What You Need To Know About Facebook’s New Ad Policies
“Your Facebook ad has been disapproved”
Those six words have been throwing a wrench in the works for more and more business owners as of late. If you haven’t encountered them yet, the chances will be even greater you will in the coming weeks. In response to the ongoing data, privacy, and “fake news” scandals, the world’s most popular social media platform is making some changes, many of which could have a direct impact on your marketing strategy.
In the interest of transparency, Facebook is tightening the belt on ads (and advertisers) pertaining to elections and political issues. The new rules include new verification requirements for advertisers and “paid for by” disclosures on their ads. While the move is intended to slow the spread of “fake news,” there appear to be a few kinks left to be worked out of the screening process. In the weeks since Facebook has started roll out these changes, we’ve seen numerous reports of ads/sponsored posts being incorrectly flagged as “political” and disapproved until the advertiser submits personal information, such as their Social Security number and photo ID, needed for the authorization process.
While the policy itself was written with politicians, lobbyists, and election campaigns in mind, content from a variety of businesses (including agents and advisors) has also been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s increased scrutiny. When Facebook launched the new political ad rules in late May, the company released a list of 20 initial issues that would be used to determine whether an ad was political in nature. A few topics that appear on that list might help us understand why your post about a retirement planning seminar was disapproved:
- Social Security
Sure, it might seem silly to draw any sort of connection between the November elections and a post offering future retirees information on how a tax-deferred annuity can help those who are concerned over the future of their Social Security benefits. But, with a screening process that’s based on a combination of human judgment and a still-evolving algorithm, it’s happening. Has it happened to you? If so, don’t expect much help from Facebook, as the company is passing the issue off as growing pains and claims it will
straighten itself out over time. This leaves legit, non-political advertisers whose content has been flagged with little recourse other than to appeal the decision and/or complete the authentication process. Both of these require more time and energy than most of us would rather spend on clients and prospects.
But wait, there’s more…
The content of your Facebook ad isn’t the only thing under the gun these days. The ways in which you target your audience is also undergoing a major overhaul. The end of June will introduce the first step in Facebook’s move to eliminate “Partner Categories” from the available ad targeting audience. Partner categories consist of consumer data provided by third-party companies that advertisers use when fine-tuning their customized audience. This means that several behavioral and demographic parameters advertisers used to better reach those consumers who would benefit most from their products/services will no longer exist on Facebook’s advertising platform.
What does this mean for you?
For those working in the world of finance, targeting consumers based on their financial indicators is a key part of finding those prospects who are most likely to convert. Information such as personal income, net worth, homeownership, and several behaviors related to one’s financial well-being have long been used by advertisers when customizing an audience to the product/service. Beginning June 30, those parameters will no longer be able to be used for creating new or editing existing campaigns. On October 1, any ads using data gleaned from partner categories will no longer be delivered.
Does this spell the end of Facebook advertising? No, absolutely not. Despite the platform’s overhaul and accompanying frustrations, Facebook will still remain one of the most valuable ad platforms available. Even after the third-party data is gone, the remaining demographic, behavioral and interest categories will still allow you to finely-tune your customized target audience. You’ll just have to be a little more creative when doing so. Here are a few tips that can help you work around the changes to Facebook’s advertising platform:
- Geotarget Affluent Communities: You can no longer use Facebook to specifically target homeowners who make at least $75,000 a year. But, you can use what you know about your own area to geotarget your ads to reach those living in neighborhoods that would likely be populated by people who fall under that demographic. Geotargeting is a commonly used parameter that can be used to create a customized audience of Facebook users living in a specific area.
- Replace Behaviors with Similar/Relevant Interests: Just because Facebook is no longer going use consumer profile data from third-party companies, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped learning everything they can about its users. The social media giant uses internet activity such as web browsing and Page “likes” to create comprehensive profiles of its users. If you ever expressed an interest in clog dancing, Facebook probably knows it and has you tagged as someone who might be receptive to an ad about clog shoes. The same goes for those who have searched for things like annuities, retirement, and life insurance. This approach might take some experimentation but can be an effective workaround in the absence of third-party data.
- DIY: Facebook’s new targeting policies apply to consumer info compiled by third-party data mining companies such as Acxiom and Experian. But the rules do not prohibit businesses from targeting people based on data they’ve collected themselves. Consider using surveys, forms, or landing pages to help build an audience of consumers who want to see your ad.
In all likelihood, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Facebook’s much-publicized overhaul. This means we should expect the “formula” for a successful ad campaign to change with the seasons. Keeping up with it all can take more time than most of you have to spare, but you also can’t afford to waste resources on ineffective advertising.
This is where we can help. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep ahead of the curve, call us today.