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November 11, 2021

If you’re still reeling from the news about Facebook changing its name to Meta, or their hollow promise to get rid of facial recognition software to appear less creepy to consumers, this latest bit of news from Meta is the least scary or shocking of all. As the industry shifts to a less hyper-targeted structure, Facebook’s advertising department has announced that starting early next year, it will be removing targeting options related to “causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.” These options would include the following examples:

  • Health causes (i.e. “lung cancer awareness,” “World Diabetes Day,” and “chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (i.e. “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
  • Religious practices and groups (i.e. “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures

Facebook also will expand the option to limit advertising in content categories such as political, gambling, weight loss, parenting, alcohol and pets, with more on the way. While some clients may be worried, it’s important to leverage marketing tools in ethical and reliable ways to reach audiences effectively, and these restrictions will push clients and partners to consider more effective audience solutions.

While many advertisers rely on interest-based targeting solutions collected by Facebook, like those outlined above, it’s important to consider all of your options and data points as a business. One particular solution that will play a key role for businesses moving forward is first party data, or at its simplest, email lists. Driving people to sign up for a newsletter or download a whitepaper will not only capture high intent consumers, but will also allow brands to own that data in perpetuity (or until someone opts out) without fear of a platform removing the option to target them.

Driving people to particular sections of a website and retargeting them based on that traffic is also something that won’t go away. Lookalikes on specific platforms aren’t always a perfect solution, but it does allow email lists to be stretched and tested to an audience that isn’t void of targeting. The focus must shift away from the person’s individual interests and attributes and more towards their actions in relation to a brand, and we’re seeing it more and more as the methods of collecting those hyper-targeted data points disappear.

Based on the removals above, there are a few industries that might be directly affected and might have concern about what to do next. Let’s paint a few pictures to help with the transition away from interest-based targeting, and towards first-party data targeting:

  • A political activism brand is working hard to move a specific agenda forward in a given country. Their best bet is to either work with a partner to generate enough broad demographic insights about a target audience (surveys, polls), utilize voter records (which are publicly available in the United States) to target party affiliation, or create a low-effort newsletter to help supporters join their cause. Not only can they directly measure impact by the number of newsletter signups, but now they have a collection of people they can send specific messaging to amplify their agenda across platforms, using UTM links that can also track impact.
  • A healthcare system is working to address the needs of a particular group of people affected by a specific condition or life event. In their research, most conditions affect specific segments of the population (women 18-54, men 45 and older), and targeting can begin here, driving people to download a pamphlet or document containing more information, or signing up for a consultation. Those emails collected by asking people to opt-in to marketing before the download can be processed into a list, that can either help stay in front of that audience, or apply to a lookalike audience to reach people who might be interested in the same content.
  • An educational institution aims to obtain students with specific beliefs, values or goals in a given region. Most educational institutions have options to accommodate any financial situation, and by law can’t discriminate in any capacity, so targeting should truly start with parents, or people aged 30 and up, if that aligns with the student’s timing in their system. By driving people to sign up to attend virtual open houses, download materials or directly apply, the high-intent users will provide information that can be retargeted or applied to a lookalike audience, and people that drop off can be placed in website retargeting. This set up allows them to hit comfortably sized audiences to meet their goals just as effectively as before.

Image by Dima Solomin on Unsplash

In our previous blog outlining the marketing analytics landscape, we discuss the importance of a conversion-based approach to marketing, which allows us to collect the data we need to meet client goals. By considering the whole user journey and the outcomes you can generate on your website, all brands can create gated content or set up consumer-facing events to build lead lists. This not only helps your advertising, but can help generate revenue or identify strong supporters, too.

At ChatterBlast, we have solutions at every turn to meet key business goals, and are happy to work with clients that may need to pivot or adjust their approach in a cost-effective way. If your team needs any additional information on how to navigate the upcoming changes or how to adapt over time to meet big advertising industry shifts coming in the next few years, we’re here to help.

About the Author

Joe Mineo

As associate director, ads & analytics at ChatterBlast, Joe is our go-to numbers guy. In addition to his extensive experience with radio brands, he's also an avid runner.

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