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Facebook Updates Advertiser’s Targeting Capabilities

Social media advertisers are scrambling once again as Facebook announced on March 19 that it would eliminate certain exclusion and targeting capabilities for three major categories: housing, employment and credit. These three categories are already federally protected from discrimination in advertising, and the social media titan is following the government’s lead by removing over 5,000 targeting categories related to protected classes such as race, ethnicity, age and religion.

Stemming from lawsuits filed by top civil rights organizations, Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook COO, announced the company is taking action against the misuse of Facebook’s products and services, resulting in discriminatory advertising, by committing to three key platform changes:

  1. Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or ZIP code.
  2. Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall. Multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.
  3. We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the U.S. targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you.

How will this affect the senior living vertical?

GlynnDevins has confirmed with our Facebook Agency Partner that paid campaigns related to senior living, retirement communities and higher levels of care (Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, etc.), if in a community setting, will fall within the “housing” category and therefore will no longer be eligible to use Facebook’s age, gender or ZIP code targeting categories.

Does this mean we can’t target qualified seniors on Facebook anymore?

Not at all. In fact, there are several ways we plan to work around the removal of Facebook’s targeting categories. These include:

  1. Interest and geo-targeting – While we’ll no longer be able to target users specifically based on their age, we can still target users who have shown an interest in senior living, retirement communities or senior care, based on their online behavior. Additionally, geographically speaking, we won’t be able to target down to the ZIP code level, but targeting as close in as 15 miles around the community address will still be allowed.
  2. Third-Party Data – Even though Facebook is removing some of their targeting categories, they’re still allowing the use of third-party data and audience segments.
    This means we can work with outside data providers to generate a geo-targeted age- and income-qualified advertising segment to upload and use to target consumers through the Facebook advertising platform.
  3. First-Party Data – First-party data refers to data that is collected by the community. One example is CRM data – name, email and phone information from leads. This information can be uploaded to Facebook (in an encrypted/safe way) to target these users directly through advertising. CRM targeting through Facebook is an excellent way to reach existing leads and encourage them to take the next step in the buyer journey. And ad messaging can be cultivated based on activities those leads have already engaged in (phone call, email, tour, etc).

As is customary in the digital advertising world, a lot is still unknown and likely to change following this disclosure. As GlynnDevins is a member of the Facebook Partner Management Program, our associates are working closely with our dedicated Facebook manager to stay in front of any impact this may have on our clients’ campaigns.

As Facebook continues to reckon with the immense amount of data they’re generating and how best to use, protect, and monetize it, our social managers continue to update targeting strategies to keep up with Facebook’s ever-changing policies. Stay tuned for more updates when these changes are estimated to take effect in late summer 2019.

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