Facebook Advertising Update: Fighting Discriminatory Ads

Posted: October 26, 2017

If you’ve set up a new Facebook advertising campaign recently, you may have noticed some small but impactful changes to your targeting capabilities.

In mid-September, Facebook announced it was taking away advertisers’ ability to target users by:

  • Field of Study
  • School
  • Job Title
  • Employer

What? Why? WHAAA? Why would Facebook do this to advertisers? These are important attributes for many advertisers trying to reach their ideal customers.

Facebook: no targeting on inflammatory statements

What prompted the move was that Russian use of social media as a way to interfere with U.S. elections came to light.

As a result, Facebook updated its ad targeting restrictions in order to make sure targeting is not used for hate speech or discriminatory purposes.

In its September news release, Facebook states,

“Hate speech and discriminatory advertising have no place on our platform. Our community standards strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, and we prohibit advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes.”

What went wrong with Facebook targeting?

Facebook discovered that a small percentage of people were using the education and employer profile fields for racist or bigoted material that violated Facebook’s policies. With enough people using these inflammatory statements in their profile fields, the fields were then showing up in Facebook’s interface as targetable audiences for campaigns.

When Facebook discovered the problem, they were removed.

The good news is that while Facebook is removing self-reported targeting fields, it is only until they have the right processes in place to prevent this from being an issue in the future. The not-so-good news is that we don’t expect this to be resolved quickly – nor do we know what these targeting options will look like when they do return.

If you have campaigns that were created before this change when into effect, you can still use them. However, be aware that making changes to these campaigns may result in losing this targeting ability.

4 steps to help your Facebook campaign now

So, what can you do right now?

  • Add more video. Facebook is giving a lot of attention to video content. If that’s not in your content strategy, get on it. This includes videos uploaded directly to the network and the live broadcast videos.
  • Customer service. Give your customers a good experience on Facebook. Make it memorable, preferably positive. If a response is needed, make it quickly.
  • Try new things. If you haven’t already, use the remarketing capabilities on Facebook. You can also import customer emails and create look-a-like audiences.
  • Keep on advertising. More than 2 billion monthly active users are on Facebook. Be sure to be using the tools available in Power Editor. Think about the other things you know about your customers outside of these removed attributes.

The bottom line

Facebook may have taken some targeting options away, but it won’t be permanent. Facebook knows more about each of us as individuals than we’d care to admit, helping it remain a powerful tool for marketers. Facebook is a free platform for users, and for those of us that do advertise, it remains a cost-effective way to reach ideal customers.

About VONT Performance Digital Marketing

At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. When tools and environments are constantly changing, new opportunities to help our clients achieve success are constantly arising. Each new advertising technology, social platform, or design approach allows us to improve on the results we achieve for our clients.

We believe in this idea of continual fine-tuning so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities.

In short, we’re here so that our clients achieve success in the ever-changing digital world. If you’d like to learn more about VONT and the work we’ve done with our client partners, visit our Work page. Or, if you have a question, contact us. We’ll get right back to you!