As a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been cracking down on the sharing and use of some types of user data.
But first, here’s a refresher of what happened: Cambridge academic, Aleksandr Kogan, and Global Science Research, created an app in 2013 that had users answer questions for a psychological profile. The app harvested personal data, and gathered data from Facebook friends of the users that had submitted their information to the app, reportedly resulting in the Cambridge Analytica having access to the data of millions of Facebook users. Fast forward to the end of 2015, The Guardian reports that Cambridge Analytica was ‘in bed’ with Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign (further down the track we’re also made aware that the data firm influenced voters during Trump’s presidential campaign). Facebook then bans the app, and legally pressures Cambridge Analytica to remove all of the data they had acquired. At this point, Cambridge Analytica confirm that the data has been deleted. Low and behold, it’s now September 2018, and Facebook continues to make changes to their policy after the onslaught of media attention and ‘bad press’ garnered from the scandal.
So, what changed? Here’s a timeline of some of the major changes.
- Facebook announced that only authorized advertisers could run electoral ads on Facebook owned channels.
- Facebook extends the above to any advertiser wanting to show “issue ads”.
- Facebook rolled out the labelling of political ads in the top left corner of the ad, and introduced the new “paid for by” information.
- Facebook removed Partner Categories, which accounted for over half of Facebook’s 1,200 targeting criteria. Partner Categories essentially allowed advertisers to target Facebook and Instagram users via third party data from the likes of Axciom, Oracle Data Cloud (Datalogix), Epsilon and Experian.
- Facebook strengthened their protection of user data, through the platform’s compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR was developed to ensure users have control over their personal data, and companies must gain consent for collecting and sharing this data. In order to comply with the EU regulation, Facebook worked to remove Partner Categories and will officially stop targeting these audiences as of October 1, 2018.
- As of May 24, Facebook requires all advertisers wanting to run ads with political content in the US to complete an authorization process.
- Facebook’s updated Product Terms and revised the Custom Audience Terms came into effect on May 25.
- Facebook introduced a new upload and sharing flow for Custom Audiences from a customer file, requiring advertisers to accept Facebook’s Custom Audience terms, provide audience origin information, and establish audience sharing relationships through Business Manager.
- Facebook introduced Page publishing authorization last month, requiring people that manage a Page with a large audience in the U.S. to complete an authorization process.
- Facebook removed over 5,000 targeting options to help prevent discriminatory advertising, but also introduced new and returning professional targeting options.
- Facebook announced that over the coming weeks, they will be requiring all US advertisers to certify compliance with their Non-Discrimination Policy. Originally, Facebook had required advertisers offering housing, employment or credit ads to do this.
All is not lost - Facebook still has great ways to get in front of your target audience.
The changes mentioned above were swift actions to try and correct some of the ‘wrong’ that had occurred, and it’s likely there will be more changes to follow as Facebook continues to adapt to data regulations and user privacy requirements. Some believe the lack of third-party targeting might not even make a difference in ad performance, while other parties think otherwise. Either way, Facebook continues to be one of the most powerful and robust tools for advertisers to get in front of their target audience. Here’s some advice on what advertiser’s can still do, by way of targeting, to achieve great results:
- First off, make sure you review and are compliant with Facebook’s updated Custom Audience Terms.
- If you have a website - use it: installing the Facebook Pixel on your site will enable a plethora of retargeting capability via Facebook, from targeting people who visited the site, right through to targeting those that made a purchase.
- If you’ve got a customer or prospect list, use that too! Utilizing data such as email addresses is extremely effective, and allows you to target your existing customers in a personalized way. If retargeting isn’t your desired strategy, you can create a Lookalike of your customer list to reach a new audience that’s likely to be interested in your business.
- Targeting basics are still available, and they work! While some targeting parameters are due to be removed on October 1, demographic, behavior and interest targeting is still an easy way to make sure your ads are being seen by people that fit in your target audience.
- Connections are a great not only in person, but on Facebook too! Targeting those connected to your Facebook Page, will keep your Page Fans engaged with your content!
Facebook can be tough to navigate, especially when it comes to new policies and making sure you, the advertiser, are compliant. Fortunately, Tiger Pistol lives and breathes Facebook Advertising, so we’ll make sure to keep you up to date on the latest changes that might affect your advertising via our Blog.
Amy Abell is a Senior Social Specialist at Tiger Pistol, is experienced in Facebook Advertising for small and local businesses.
Coming Soon: Facebook’s America: “Safe & Civil” Advertising in a Sea of Policy Change by Analissa Moreno.