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What You Should Know About The Facebook “Special Ads” Category Targeting

Written by:

Michelle Ashby

December 3, 2020

As of August 2019, Facebook has instituted a "Special Ads" category for advertising related to housing, employment, credit and more recently, social issues, elections and politics. Ads that fall within the "Special Ads" category have seen their audience targeting options significantly reduced.

Our senior paid media architect, Bridget, breaks down why changes were made and what was changed:

“The objective is to stop predatory advertising practices based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, and family status. This means that agencies will need to balance sensitivity and strategy when using Facebook for economically- and socially-targeted campaigns.”

With this update, if you were previously using targeting options that are no longer available, suggestions will be made within Ads Manager to change targeting to currently available options.

What targeting was removed for the purpose of “Special Ads”?

  • Protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, family status, homeowner status, education status, and current employment
  • Location targeting by zip code, but there is an option to target within 15 miles of a specific location
  • The ability to exclude interests, for example: you can no longer say you want to target people interested in “marketing,” but exclude those interested in “email marketing”
  • A lot of interest-based targeting options were removed or condensed into broader categories
  • The options of targeting expansion and look-a-like expansion settings are not available under “Special Ads”

The deadline to make these changes is coming soon. Per Facebook, “existing ad sets that contain these targeting options can continue to run until January 25, 2021.”

An addition:

There is a new feature called "Special Audience," which is similar to "look-a-like audience" targeting but is based on behavior and interests rather than any of the protected characteristics.

Along with the new “Special Audiences” feature, Facebook will allow for remarketing in these categories. If you already have identifiable customer information, Facebook allows you to use their email or directly target those who have liked your Facebook page to reach them. Using smart segmentation and Facebook’s Pixel feature, you can set up broad awareness campaigns to build remarketing lists that can later be used for specific initiatives.

If you are having any trouble understanding or implementing these changes, contact your account coordinator.

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