In recent months, Facebook has started removing certain aspects of their ad-targeting options, with this starting to come into effect from January 19th. This is in response to the intense scrutiny the Facebook parent company, now known as Meta, has been facing over how their ad-targeting has worked in the past. For a company that makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising, they’re being exceptionally cautious as a way of mitigating the criticism they’ve received while still trying to keep the platform exceptionally profitable. But what does this move mean for the many thousands of businesses that use Facebook as an advertising platform? And how can you best use it to go forward?
What types of targeting are affected?
The main criticisms of the platform revolve around the company’s micro-targeting capabilities, which have been found to harm many vulnerable groups. While many of us use these tools to drive business and make sales ethically and appropriately, some unethical organisations and businesses have used them to discriminate against vulnerable audiences based on their race, health, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or religious practices. It’s a case of the tools being a double-edged sword where it’s up to the organisation using them to do so for good or harmful practices.
Due to the impact of these negative uses, relevant aspects of microtargeting have been removed – even though they may impact ethical businesses too. Because you won’t be able to niche down as much, you may have to pay more to get your ads in front of the right people because you’ll be forced to advertise to a much broader audience. However, we think that this is a price we’re happy to pay if it helps stop harm and discrimination happening to other people – especially since social media specialists can still find new strategic ways to target your advertising effectively as well as ethically with the new rules.
How can you target your audience?
With the new rules for interest targeting eliminating areas of potentially negative discrimination like race, health, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or religious practices, you may worry that your medical practice’s campaign to help people quit smoking might go unseen. Or that your helpful post on Muslim or Christian beliefs won’t be read by interested parties, or that you can’t get your special veteran’s discount in front of an audience who can use it.
But there’s no need to be too concerned. You can still target your audience in more general terms like location, by sending content based on your own database of customer information or reaching customers who have interacted with your brand or similar brands. All it means is that you need a social media advertising partner who can best understand the characteristics of your ideal audience, that can use the targeting criteria available as effectively as possible, and who can create content that sets your business in its specific niche and encourages the right people to interact with it.
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