Facebook Targeting: A MOVING Target

September 13, 2018

Facebook’s removal of Partner Categories as an ad targeting choice will be fully effective beginning Sept. 30. What does this mean and who’s affected?


Facebook has been embroiled in a privacy controversy this year (think Cambridge Analytica scandal) and notified users in March that they would no longer allow advertisers to target audiences with data supplied by third-party providers, referred to on the platform as ‘Partner Categories.’ Targeting options widely used in Partner Categories include:

  • Homeownership
  • Income and financial data
  • Job titles (some will be retained)

Any ads that rely on Partner Category data need to be modified with new audiences after Sept. 30 or they will likely stop delivering.

Moving forward, the only detailed targeting parameters Facebook will allow advertisers to use will be:

1) data provided by users to Facebook or 2) third-party data advertisers purchase directly. Your subscription to a third-party data provider will allow you to export audiences for use on social platforms, but it may not be affordable for small businesses.

What are your options?

Facebook and other advertising experts have offered different solutions designed to navigate this change in audience targeting. Alternative targeting options include:

  • Interest targeting
  • Advanced geo-targeting or geo-fencing
  • Lookalike audiences

Of the available alternatives, we believe lookalike audiences are the best course of action at the moment.

Lookalike audiences allow advertisers to find and create new audiences who have traits that are almost identical to the people who currently visit your website. This is accomplished by installing a Facebook Pixel on your website, which Facebook then uses to collect visitor data and group predominant traits and behaviors. Facebook identifies and groups information by using extensive social graph data including demographics, interests, social connections, and newsfeed activity. Advertisers can add even more precision by including age and location requirements.

But does it work?

While there’s still a lot of testing to be done, many advertisers including us at BroadBased, are reporting much higher conversion rates with lookalikes. One of our August ads that previously used a Partner Audience experienced a 172% increase in click-through when we made the change. So, we don’t mind saying that we’re bullish on the strategy.

If you’re wondering about the best way to optimize your own Facebook campaigns, send us a note with your question.

Alexandra Morrison

Alexandra Morrison

Digital Marketing Strategist

Alexandra Morrison is the Digital Marketing Strategist at BroadBased and provides strategy and support for a wide range of projects including paid social, e-blasts, digital advertising, website production, marketing automation and more.