Hasta Luego Facebook’s Partner Categories Feature!

April 20th, 2018

A lot of changes have been happening over at the ol’ Facebook HQ because of recent scandals and regulations.

One of those developments recently announced is that Facebook will be ending a feature called Partner Categories in order to effectively remove third-party targeting data.

All this is being done in an effort to win back its users’ trust.

What exactly is this changing?

In short, advertisers could previously request access to “private audiences” from vendors like Oracle Data Cloud (Datalogix), Epsilon, Experian, and Acxiom through Facebook. Now, however, Facebook will be permanently removing public and private third-party targeting capabilities.

Keep in mind, however, that this change doesn’t affect the use of Facebook’s or brands’ own user data.

Why is Facebook making this change?

As you already know, Facebook is taking some heat from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and a couple of weeks back, the company announced that some new limits were going to be placed in apps that can access user data.

As you may also be aware of, the second reason why Facebook will be implementing this change is because of the General Data Protection Regulation that is set to take effect on May 25, 2018, in the European Union.

The broad regulation is an effort to give control of the people’s data back to the people while requiring companies to ask explicitly for permission to collect and share that data.

“How’s that going to affect us here in the US?”

Well, American companies that also process data from EU citizens will have to comply to the regulation, regardless if the individual lives within the US or not. Companies that violate this regulation can look to paying a fine of up to 4 percent of their global revenue.

This decision is kind of a big deal, even outside of the EU, and it will certainly change the way digital marketers are able to use third-party data. Multinational companies will have to decide to either set processes and procedures to meet compliance with the regulation, block EU users altogether—something that is unlikely to happen—or pay a staggering fine.

About ½ of Facebook’s 1200 targeting criteria come from third-party data sources. Click To Tweet

What does this mean for digital marketers?

As per Facebook, the company believes that their own user data or brands’ own user data should be sufficient and strong enough that advertisers will stick around.

For many, it’s a no-brainer that Facebook would react this way, especially because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Many marketers are optimistic, if not cautious. Advertisers that don’t have much data on their users, however, may be the most impacted.

Other categories that are likely to be affected would be entertainment marketers—think Netflix—as they usually utilize third-party data to market new promotions.

All in all, clients may now make the most out of their first-party data or build more resources to gather it.

How can you prepare?

If you relied heavily on Facebook’s third-party data, there is still hope. Consider these three areas when developing your next plan of action.

  1. Get that first-party data. Custom audiences are not affected by this change, so you can still upload your own customer data into Facebook to use in ad campaigns. Consider using anything from your Customer Relationship Management system, loyalty programs, your website, or mobile apps. In a pinch, if you don’t have enough first-party data, you can use Facebook’s audience selection tools to target the right people to purchase your products by using the basics: age, location, and interests.
  2. Construct Lookalike Audiences that match your best customers. If you happen to collect all data about your customers, Lookalike modeling can be a godsend. It uses trends that it finds in your customer data to identify like-minded audience segments. Doing this means you can reach new customers that have the same buying trends as your established customers.
  3. Build targeting groups based on the products or web pages people are visiting on your website. Think outside of the box and harness data from viewed products, abandoned carts, and/or wishlists of potential clients. You can then use this data to create personalized ads that will be more relevant to your targeted demographic.

Facebook’s Partner Categories may be leaving but all is not lost. It may take a little bit of thinking outside of the box but that’s something we here at Cobalt Digital Marketing do best.

Get started today by choosing your very own Cobalt Formula™.

Contact us today.