Facebook Set to Remove Thousands of Ad Targeting Categories

December 21, 2021

Find out if Facebook’s category changes will affect you and your customers

In a move related to sensitive topics, Facebook – now known as Meta – has announced it will remove thousands of ad targeting categories, starting on Wednesday 19th January 2022.

It’s a big step in ensuring they align with ever-evolving privacy regulations. To be compliant, Meta is removing detailed ad targeting options surrounding sensitive subjects on Facebook, which could cause potential issues in the future.  

Facebook’s ad targeting removal statement

Making an official online announcement, Meta states: “We strongly believe that the best advertising experiences are personalised. They enable people to discover products and services from small businesses that may not have the ability to market them on television or other forms of media… 

“At the same time, we want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform. Starting on 19th January 2022, we will remove Detailed Targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive.”

Ultimately, it all comes down to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws which came into force back in May 2018, and have since been a bone of contention for Facebook. Technically, the social media giant isn’t allowed to target users based on the parameters surrounding the ad targeting categories, without gaining consent from each person. 

What does the removal of Facebook’s ad targeting categories mean?

Let’s start by explaining what detailed targeting is; this is an option available to businesses located within the ‘Audience’ section of an ad set creation. Detailed targeting enables you to filter the groups of people that Facebook shows your ads to, as well as a range of topics relating to your industry. 

The changes implemented by Meta means that thousands of topics will be removed on Facebook from Wednesday 19th January 2022. Granted, most of these options relate to health causes, political beliefs, religious faiths, race and sexual orientation amongst others, so may be unlikely to affect you. But, if your company has incorporated any of the subjects into your brand messaging at any point, you could be affected.  

What can be done to mitigate the effects of Facebook’s ad targeting removal?

Meta insists that through the Facebook platform, they “remain committed” to helping small businesses reach audiences. So what can be done to reduce the impact? The good news is that companies will still be able to utilise Facebook’s ‘Engagement Custom Audiences’ option; this means you can still reach people who have previously engaged with your brand. 

Facebook business users will be pleased to know that audiences can still be targeted by location too. In addition, you can still reach customer audiences who have previously engaged with your brand, as well as potential customers with similar interests. 

The move encourages businesses to build their own data lists from first-hand audience information. These are people who are directly engaged with your brand, rather than targeting potential customers through third-party ad targeting groups. 

Bear in mind there is a grace period of up until 17th March 2022, when the existing ad sets will then be fully removed. It’s important to update your ad targeting selections in order to comply with the new regulations. 

Kate Berry, Head of Marketing at 67 Degrees, puts our dealers minds at rest, she says: “For 67 Degrees Facebook customers, there is nothing to worry about regarding this change. Due to the nature of car (and van) sales, we don’t have a need to target any of these sensitive audiences in our advertising campaigns. 

“We have many campaigns that are already utilising audiences based on users who have engaged with our customers’ websites and we have built similar audiences around these.”

If you have any concerns about the removal of ad targeting categories on Facebook, please get in touch with us here at 67 Degrees and our marketing experts will be able to help you. 

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