Amanda Christensen

by Amanda Christensen |

At the end of August, Facebook announced that US-based advertisers in the Housing, Employment, and Credit space will be limited in the ways they can target in order to prevent discrimination. These types of advertisers now fall into Special Ad Categories. Here is the breakdown of what’s changing:

Deprecated targeting for Special Ad Categories includes:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Zip code
  • Saved audiences
  • Lookalike audiences have been replaced by Special Ad audiences
Limited targeting includes:
  • Locations – advertisers cannot target an area smaller than a 15-mile radius
  • Interests (note: this should honestly fall into the “eliminated” category because A LOT of interests are no longer available to Special Ad Categories advertisers)
A few caveats to know for your new targeting strategy:

Special Ad audiences act as a lookalike audience but do not use any restricted information to create the model. They rely on interests and behaviors similar to the seed.
Neither Special Ad audiences or Interests can be excluded from targeting.

While the full rollout won’t be until later this year, we’d recommend getting ahead of the change to learn and drive results as soon as possible. Here are some quick tips to make sure you’re ready for the full rollout of Special Ad Categories:

1. Keep historical campaigns and ad sets running as they are
  • Without edits (with the exception of budgeting), these can continue to run as a benchmark, and proven success method, before the rollout
2. Create new audiences that closely mirror your historical audiences
  • Create Special Ad audiences of your Lookalike seed lists
  • Build Interest targeting that follows your “Detailed Interests” targeting. The new interests are very limited, but select which targeting is most closely aligned with your historical Detailed Interests options.
3. Expand targeting
  • Identify new opportunities to test as Special Ad audiences. Maybe you haven’t tested a lookalike of top website traffic, video viewers, callers, users with the fastest credit approvals, or newsletter subscribers. There is always a new way to understand your audience, and testing different audience groups with Special Ad audiences is the only way to know what will work best.
  • Leverage the few, relevant available interests, likely employing a broader approach to targeting. Many social advertisers already test broad targeting in their strategy. For example, instead of targeting “Small Business Owners”, you can test “Entrepreneurship” as an interest. This approach leans on Facebook to learn your audience based on user activity and optimize.

Facebook representatives have communicated that performance will not likely be impacted by the new targeting. Based on the interest targeting available for Special Ad Categories, it looks like niche offerings will be the most impacted.

For one of our clients, initial prospecting tests are resulting in 31% lower CPAs than historical prospecting campaigns. Starting ahead of the full rollout gives more opportunity to align these frontend results with backend quality signals, too.

If your company falls into a Special Ad Category, get ahead of the change, and start planning and testing now. Contact us to learn more.