Social Media

Facebook Ends 3rd Party Data Access for Ad Targeting

What Marketers Need to Know

Facebook lit up news feeds Wednesday, announcing that it will begin limiting the amount and type of data advertisers will be able to leverage to target potential audiences.

Specifically, over the next six months the social network will end the use of 3rd party data targeting, also known as Partner Categories.

The announcement suggests a larger effort by Facebook – following last week’s Cambridge Analytica scandal -- to prove that the company is willing to take hard and swift action to protect its users’ privacy and maintain autonomy over its data sources.

The Short Version:

  • Facebook will slowly phase out Partner Categories starting in May, and no Facebook Partner Categories will be available after October 1.
  • Targeting via client-provided CRM custom audiences and client + partner direct audiences are still available.
  • At iProspect, for most clients we have seen 1st party data, lookalikes, and dynamic audiences perform better than Partner Categories.
  • However, for some clients, 3rd party targeting does provide effective results for many advertisers, such as those without accessible or robust customer data, or those desiring to target niche audiences.

The Details:
Specifically, Facebook’s announced updates will halt targeting options currently made available via the Facebook UI powered by 3rd party data providers including Datalogix, Axiom, Oracle, Epsilon, and others. Data provided by these services – such as offline purchasing data – allows Facebook to provide advertisers with an additional layer of enriched targeting.

Facebook outlined the timeline for these changes to take effect, with a definitive deadline of October 1 for all 3rd party campaign activity to stop. While certain sources will be cut off before this deadline, the slow suspension allows advertisers ample time to reassess and configure their audience targeting strategies.

Key Dates:

  • May 10: In order to comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), after this date, you will no longer be able to create or edit campaigns using Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France; however, they will be allowed to continue running until May 24.
  • May 25: Facebook will no longer deliver Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France, and these targeting options will no longer be available for use on its platform. You will notified to update any targeting containing impacted Partner Categories before this date.
  • June 30: Last day to create new or edit existing campaigns using non-EU Partner Categories; they will be allowed to run until September 30.
  • October 1: All other Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options on Facebook and the platform will stop delivering against these audiences worldwide. You will be notified to update your targeting by this date.

The Impact:
The good news? At iProspect, for most clients we have seen 1st party data, lookalikes, and dynamic audiences perform better than Partner Categories. So, we anticipate impact will be limited for these clients.

However, 3rd party targeting does provide effective results for many advertisers, such as those without accessible or robust customer data, or those desiring to target niche audiences.

The Solution:
First, it’s worth emphasizing that targeting via client-provided CRM custom audiences and client + partner direct audiences are still available, since we see the greatest scale and cost efficiencies with these capabilities.

The available and appropriate solutions for those advertisers leveraging 3rd party audiences will vary greatly, depending on everything from investment levels to target audience and desired outcome. We are working with these clients on a case-by-case basis to assess impact and adjust plans accordingly.

 

While the end of 3rd party targeting will require a shift in many advertisers’ spends and strategies, we believe the positive results will prevail: a step toward renewing user trust in Facebook’s use of data, a heightened focus by Facebook on enriching their custom and dynamic audience capabilities, and decreased cost and increased conversions through maximizing the most effective targeting tactics provided by the platform.