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Facebook Removes More Than 1,000 Ad Targeting Options: Just The Facts

August 25, 2020 Sarah Cavill

According to Facebook, low usage and duplication of certain targeting categories has led the social media platform to remove over 1,000 of its ad targeting options. 

Why Is Facebook Removing Ad Targeting Options?

Targeting is an essential tool for marketers, so it’s somewhat unusual for a platform as significant as Facebook to limit ad targeting options. However, Facebook said the move to remove the superfluous ad targeting options is intended to streamline and simplify those targeting categories that aren’t redundant and that better serve advertisers. Facebook explains, “We’ve identified cases where advertisers – of all sizes and industries – rarely use various targeting options. Infrequent use may be because some of the targeting options are redundant with others or because they’re too granular to really be useful. So we’re removing some of these options.”

Is This The First Time Facebook Has Removed Ad Targeting Options?

Shutterstock_721303126 BANGKOK, THAILAND - September 25, 2017: Facebook social media app logo on log-in, sign-up registration page on mobile application screen on iPhone smart devices in business person's hand

No. In 2018, Facebook removed 5,000 ad targeting options that could possibly lead to discriminatory targeting, like not serving real estate ads to certain demographics. At that time, many of the targeting options that were removed related to ethnicity and religion. More recently, Facebook has implemented specific targeting guidelines around housing, employment and credit ads, and released the Special Ad Audience tool for reaching more defined audiences.

Facebook says the current changes are not related to those prior issues, but there does appear to be some ongoing tweaking regarding how to reach diverse groups. “We’re [Facebook] removing multicultural affinity segments and encouraging advertisers to use other targeting options such as language or culture to reach people that are interested in multicultural content. We continue to support product solutions for multicultural marketing while guarding against their potential for misuse,” notes Facebook in an update about the change. Similarly, some targeting categories related to military regiments and bases have been combined or removed, with Facebook encouraging other targeting options to reach those groups.

What Does The Removal Of Ad Targeting Options By Facebook Mean For Advertisers?

The impact on digital marketers and advertisers should be minimal, with the understanding that targeting effectively is an ongoing process and subject to change with shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors. Facebook has offered reassurances that most advertisers will feel little impact, particularly since most ad targeting options haven’t changed. In the instances where advertisers do need assistance, “[Facebook] will guide advertisers to options that are similar to ones that have been removed and that should provide comparable performance.”

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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