Over the last few months, Facebook privacy changes have sent entire paid marketing teams into a frenzy.
While most of these updates were designed to place greater control in users’ hands and prevent nefarious or discriminatory organizations from taking advantage of the platform’s massive user base, well-meaning companies are caught in the crossfire.
But what exactly has Facebook changed? How will these updates impact marketers? And can you still drive success through your Facebook paid media campaigns in 2020?
Here’s what you need to know.
Since the Cambridge Analytica disaster, Facebook has endured increasing pressure from government organizations and its users to take data privacy more seriously.
In response, the massive social network released a series of updates designed to give users more control over the information Facebook stores and, subsequently, how advertisers can use it.Here are three recent privacy updates that affect marketers:
Before the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, the Facebook settings menu was something of a UX nightmare. Privacy options were strewn across several sub-sections, which made updating settings a complicated chore.
Afterward, in early 2018, the platform simplified the interface, creating a more straightforward privacy section. Additionally, users can download all data stored by Facebook and determine what (if anything) they’d like to delete.
While this hasn’t significantly impacted paid marketing efforts, per se, it ushered in a new era of user awareness and brand accountability.
In late 2018, Facebook came under fire again — this time in the form of a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Communications Workers of America. The charges stated Facebook engaged in discriminatory ad targeting, which prevented certain groups of people from seeing ads (like employment opportunities) based on gender, race, age, national origin and more.
Last spring, Facebook settled the suit, submitted to a civil rights audit, and updated its advertising targeting options.
These limits primarily impact advertiser targeting by age, gender and zip codes. The updates also prevent advertisers from excluding audiences based on certain interests and significantly restricts the creation of lookalike audiences.
Eliminating discriminatory practices is, of course, a welcome change we should all support. But in some cases, these restrictions can make things tricky. For example, if you run a senior living community, you’re now unable to limit your campaign audience to senior citizens.
On Jan. 28, 2020, “Data Privacy Day,” Facebook officially rolled out Off-Facebook Activity — a tool that allows users to manage how they’re tracked across the web by showing which brands have access to their data (it also allows them to delete this information, similar to how you might clear cookies from your browser).
“Off-Facebook Activity marks a new level of transparency and control,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook blog post. “We’ve been working on this for a while because we had to rebuild some of our systems to make this possible.”
This update comes on the heels of Apple and Google’s newly released anti-tracking mechanisms (processes that prevent brands from tracking people’s behaviors via cookies as they traverse the web).
It’s too early to tell how much this update will affect advertisers, or how much users will leverage the new tool. But it stands to reason that when users disconnect their activity, their data will no longer be available for targeting, and this could impact ad performance.
Despite Facebook privacy changes, the platform remains one of the most popular spaces to advertise on the web (currently, Facebook is second only to Google in net digital ad revenue share, with the duopoly expected to consume more than 64% of the market this year, according to predictions from eMarketer).
And with 1.66 billion daily active users, it’s not a platform most organizations are willing to leave out of their paid marketing strategy.
Additionally, Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings report shows company revenue surpassed analyst expectations and topped $21.1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. And though the social giant’s chief financial officer said he expects lower revenue in Q1 2020, it’s unlikely new privacy restrictions will significantly impact advertising results (or spend).
At the end of the day, ads are Facebook’s bread-and-butter. And while privacy may be a new priority for the tech behemoth, they’ll always find new ways to make their advertising products well worth marketer’s spend. Intimidated by the new rules? An experienced marketing agency can help you navigate the waters and produce paid ads that get you results.