Strategy: Changes to Facebook Ads, Targeting Have Big Impact


TL;DR: In an effort to regain the trust of advertisers and users, Facebook continues to evolve the ad platform. Here are the latest updates.

Making good on its promises for more user privacy at F8 in 2018, Facebook has been rolling out updates to targeting and Facebook Ads Manager over the last year. These three big changes will fundamentally change the way that we place ads in 2019 and beyond.

Clear History

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement that the new “Clear History” feature would allow users to see and delete “information about the apps and websites you've interacted with, and you'll be able to clear this information from your account. You'll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.” It’s a step the platform to protect users’ privacy and personal data.

This feature hasn't been released yet, but advertisers are already preparing for the reduced reach this feature will mean. While clear history will give users more control over what data is shared on Facebook, it will impact their Facebook experience, as ads may become more random and less relevant.

What can you do? Shift some of your focus from building audiences to building communities. Keep the messaging high-level in ads, and facilitate more one-on-one conversations and meaningful connections in features like Facebook Groups and Messenger.

Updates to Targeting

Over the past year, Facebook has introduced a number of updates to the platform’s targeting. In March 2018, Facebook began removing ad targeting that relied on consumer data from third parties. Prior to that time, advertisers were able to target people based on their offline behaviors outside of Facebook, ultimately ensuring higher relevancy of ads.

More recently, Facebook announced a plan to introduce additional changes to its detailed targeting options. On March 14, Facebook removed certain targeting options from the platform for campaign creation, editing, and duplication, particularly those in the exclusion targeting.

Facebook is notifying advertisers within Facebook Ads Manager about which of your ad sets will be impacted and is automatically removing affected terms from ads interfaces. Your campaigns will continue delivering as originally set up until you review and accept the updates to targeting.

To do so, access Ads Manager, where you will see a message that reads, “We're removing some detailed targeting options”, and select the “See affected ad sets” button > click "Edit ad set" > scroll to the Audience section to review your targeting and accept changes. According to Facebook, existing campaigns that use impacted targeting options may be paused on April 4 until they are updated.

... Facebook removed certain targeting options from the platform for campaign creation, editing, and duplication, particularly those in the exclusion targeting.

What can you do? Focus on ads optimizations that are prioritized by the platform like Video Views, Brand Awareness and Landing Page Views. Use website and view engagement retargeting to reach audiences at multiple touchpoints. Test Lookalike audiences based on your most engaged audience. Keep your biggest advocates engaged through Facebook Groups and Messenger.

Changes in Ads Metrics

To help advertisers better understand how their ads are resonating with audiences, Facebook is evolving metrics available in Ads Manager, removing relevance score and replacing with with three ad relevance diagnostics metrics:

  • Quality ranking: How your ad’s perceived quality compared with ads competing for the same audience.

  • Engagement rate ranking: How your ad’s expected engagement rate compared with ads competing for the same audience.

  • Conversion rate ranking: How your ad’s expected conversion rate compared with ads that had the same optimization goal and competed for the same audience.

The previous relevance score metric will be removed starting April 30. Ideally, this change will help advertisers optimize creative and targeting to improve performance.

Facebook is also updating how it provides potential reach. Potential reach was previously calculated based on the number of total monthly active users on Facebook. Advertisers have asked for an estimate that more closely aligns with the results they see in their campaign performance. Now we're only including people in potential reach who were shown an ad on Facebook in the last 30 days.

Facebook has changed even more when it comes to political ads. Read about how the 2018 midterm election was impacted by changes to Facebook ads.

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