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Changing the Game: What Meta’s Audience Targeting Updates Mean for Your Project

If you missed Meta’s (formerly Facebook) announcement of changes to several audience targeting options late last year, you may not have noticed some of the changes that have already gone into effect. However, audience targeting is a topic that advertisers need to monitor closely as even slight changes can impact a campaign’s efficiency—for both active and future campaigns. The earliest changes were implemented in March 2022, so let’s take a look at what advertisers can expect going forward and options for adjusting target audiences for maximum efficiency.

According to Meta, many of the categories that have been or will be removed are outdated and underutilized by advertisers. Their work with policymakers and civil rights experts also uncovered topics that were deemed too sensitive for advertisers to target, including:  

  • Health (including select awareness, prevention, and treatment topics)
  • Religious beliefs
  • Sexual orientations
  • Political affiliations
  • Race and ethnicity

Meta has removed these detailed targeting options for both inclusion and exclusion, meaning you will no longer be able to target people based on their affinity for these topics, nor will you be able to prevent them from seeing your ads based on these topics.

While these changes present a unique challenge for advertisers aiming to get messages out to diverse, hard-to-reach, and/or underserved audiences, we argue that both Facebook and Instagram remain valuable advertising platforms for many businesses and organizations. Afterall, Facebook ads still reach an estimated 2.11 billion people—roughly 75% of all active monthly Facebook users. But for those worried about how the new changes may affect their ability to reach the right people, we’ve put together ideas for alternative ways to connect with ideal audiences on Facebook and Instagram:

Broad Targeting

Broad targeting can be used to build the biggest possible audience and avoid any potential issues with interest-based targeting. Demographic data such as age, gender, and location can be used to leverage this type of targeting, and users are provided with four location targeting options:

  • People living in the location
  • People recently in the location
  • People traveling in the location
  • People living in or recently in the location

If you’re looking to make location targeting more specific, certain areas can be excluded from your next campaign.

Engagement-Based Custom Audiences

If your campaign needs to be more specific, there are options for narrower targeting without interest-based parameters. Engagement-based custom audiences allow campaigns to target individuals who have interacted with your existing Facebook or Instagram content.

Customer List-Based Custom Audiences

If you already have a list of customers who have opted into receiving information from your business, you can use it to build your Facebook ad audience. Simply download the list from your customer relationship management (CRM) tool and format it in Ads Manager. Other tools are also available to help format a customer list before uploading the data to Ads Manager.

Detailed Targeting Expansion

This option allows Facebook to deliver your ad to individuals outside of your designated targeting if the algorithm determines that doing so will improve campaign performance. This can be a useful tool when your audience turns out to be smaller than you had expected, or when campaigns run into ad fatigue and costs increase as you are no longer able to reach your audience efficiently.

Ad-Based Custom Audiences

If you have run Facebook campaigns in the past, your previous ads can be used as a data source for targeting. There are a few options within this category to explore in the Ad manager platform.

Website and App-Based Custom Audiences

If you have a Facebook tracking pixel installed on your website, you can use site visitor data to create a custom audience. For campaigns that need to be more specific, you can create an audience based on users who have visited a certain page on your website.

Meta’s new targeting changes went into effect on March 17, 2022, so you may have started seeing notifications on campaigns and ad sets alerting you to the changes. If you have not received notification but know you were using interest-based targeting in an active campaign, it’s possible that Ads Manager made changes for you to bring your campaign into compliance with the new policy.

And if these changes leave you scratching your head about how to effectively target your social media advertising campaigns, 3fold’s media team is always here to help.

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