Part of what makes digital marketing so effective is the ability to precisely target who you want to see your ads. You can pinpoint an audience you know will be interested in your product or service and not have to worry about wasting money on showing your ad to people who aren't going to care about what you're advertising.
One of the commonly agreed upon drawbacks of digital marketing is that it's constantly changing. I think this is a misconception, though.
I believe the fickle nature of digital marketing can be a benefit. How? Good digital marketers should be equipped with the ability to pivot their strategies quickly, which can set them apart from their competitors when big changes are implemented by platforms. If, instead of viewing changes as an opportunity, you feel like you fall 10 steps back, it might be time to seek help. Platforms aren't going to stop changing and constantly being ten steps back isn't a profitable position.
That being said, a huge change has been announced by one of the biggest digital marketing platforms...
Facebook advertisers will soon be facing one of the biggest changes ever administered by the platform. I'm not trying to add to your anxiety, but I do want to layout what you need to know and give you some advice on how to prepare for the change.
So what's this big change?
In response to the data breaches of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook will be removing many of their most beneficial targeting options in the very near future. Honestly, some of the options they're removing are going to hit certain industries pretty hard. But again, with change there is an opportunity to set yourself apart.
You need to be prepared, though.
When creating an ad set, you may notice that some "Detailed Targeting" options use "Partners Categories" as their source. These partner categories are third-party data providers that give advertisers an option to target people based on offline demographic and buying behavior information such as homeownership or purchase history. While you may not have been aware of these options, I'm betting you have used or currently use them in your ad sets. The options are valuable to businesses that don't have access to customer data of their own in order to create custom audiences.
Facebook is removing every single one of the options that use partner categories.
This means that only information posted online by users can be used for targeting purposes, which means without customer data of your own, the accuracy of your targeting could take a major hit.
Who will be affected?
Maybe this all doesn't sound too consequential to you, but the list of targeting options being removed is substantial.
If you leverage any of the following audiences, you need to pivot your strategy.
By scanning the list of options being removed, you can see that certain businesses will be affected more than others. If you are one of the following types of business, you will be hit the hardest:
- Car dealerships
- Retail stores
- Grocery stores
- Credit unions
- B2B businesses
- Maternity stores
Now, you may say, "This is only Facebook. There are other platforms I can use to advertise online." While that is the truth, Facebook is one of the largest online advertising platforms, and don't forget, it includes Instagram and the Audience Network. Also, this will likely prompt competitors to take a similar action.
What can you do to prepare?
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, I don't blame you. I can assure you that we are experienced with these type of changes and can devise a new strategy for you. Please do not underestimate the effect these changes will have on your digital marketing strategy. Though the changes are substantial, we are confident that we can help you with a plan. Don't hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns.
Here are some tangible steps you can take in order to prepare for this imminent change:
- Use your POS software, books, etc. to compile an audience of your customers. Create a custom audience using this data.
- You can now use your custom audience and target the people in that audience with your Facebook ads (use this strategy to advertise new products, sales, etc. to your existing customers).
- You can also use your custom audience to create a lookalike audience and Facebook will compile a completely new audience for you that consists of people who share similar demographics and interests to your custom audience (current customers). Use this strategy to find new customers.
When will these changes go into effect?
May 11, 2018 - Partner Categories for audiences based in France, Germany, and the UK are no longer available for campaign creation, editing or duplication.
May 24, 2018 - No campaigns will deliver to Partner Categories for audiences in France, Germany and the UK after this date.
July 2, 2018 - Partner Categories will no longer be available for campaign creation, editing or duplication.
October 1, 2018 - No campaigns will deliver to Partner Categories after this date.
I think that's all the information you need to know as of now. If you have questions about how this is going to affect your specific business, or if you need help building a new strategy with these changes in mind (especially the types of businesses referred to earlier in this post), do not hesitate to contact us. It's always best to stay ahead of your competition. Don't get stuck 10 steps behind.