Final Notice: Facebook Partner Categories, Less Than 2 Weeks Left

The final notification has been sent and the days are numbered with less than 2 weeks left to use Facebook partner categories.

Facebook partner categories announcement.png

For those Facebook advertisers that have either been living under a rock for the past 6 months or have just pretended the announcement didn't happen, we're officially only days away from partner categories being completely gone from Facebook advertising.  Facebook gave us until August 15 to create new ad sets using these targeting options, but as of October 1, no ad sets will deliver to partner categories.  

Since 2013 Facebook has provided access to customer data provided by a select group of third-party partners.  Here is the official list pulled from Facebook:

  • Acxiom, which can provide data from Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the US

  • Acxiom Japan, which can provide data from Japan.

  • CCC Marketing, which can provide data from Japan.

  • Epsilon, which can provide data from the US

  • Experian, which can provide data from Australia, Brazil, the UK and the US

  • Oracle Data Cloud (formerly Datalogix), which can provide data from the UK and the US

  • Quantium, which can provide data from Australia

While there were hundreds of different targeting options that came from these, some of the most popular were: in-market car buyers, purchase history, financial data (income and net worth), likely to move and job roles.  Depending on what you advertise on Facebook you will hear of varying degrees of success.  For example, if you are an auto dealer you are likely feeling this the most. You could literally target people in marketing for a new Honda.  That's going to be difficult to replicate.  If you are a real estate agent or mortgage broker, while you could target those likely to move competition was extremely high and the performance wasn't always great.  

One thing many advertisers didn't know about the third party data is you were paying for its usage.  Just like when you mail postcards or run programmatic advertising using this data, there is a data fee Facebook is passing on. One advantage you might see now is lower CPM's when you are unable to use the partner categories.

No matter what level of success you did have, it will soon be over.  Here are your 3 options moving forward:

  1. This data is still available for programmatic advertising through many vendors, but more than likely you will have a hard time getting anywhere near the results that you had on Facebook. 

  2. There are ways to buy this data from Acxiom, Experian and Oracle, but it gets expensive.  To get a list of 100k people which would be a small list compared to what many advertisers were targeting on Facebook, will cost anywhere from $15-25k.  Could that be the last resort?  Yeah, likely. 

  3. The best option (our opinion) now and that's testing other targeting options within Facebook.  Many advertisers using third party data targeting have already begun this process as soon as the changed was announced by Facebook.

If you've started testing with limited success or you haven't begun yet, before you panic.  Let's start with a simple question.  Facebook as a company is driven entirely by advertising revenue.  If Facebook thought there was going to be a mass exodus of advertising dollars would they have voluntarily done this?  Probably not.  Their data likely shows a couple of different things:

  • A small portion of Facebook's overall ad revenue was from advertisers campaigns using third party data targeting

  • Their targeting options have improved enough since 2013 when they added third-party data targeting in the first place that they don't see the same need anymore

  • Facebook's algorithm has improved (which we know it has) to find the right target audience for advertisers and continue increasing performance based on that

Yes likely some advertisers will leave Facebook, but not many and mostly just smaller advertisers and many that were either self-managed or managed by marketers that don't really know what they were doing.  Now it's time to think outside of the box.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you were targeting "Likely to move" here are just a sample of other options for Facebook interest targeting: Mortgage calculator, Keller Williams Realty, House Hunting, Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia.  There are dozens more just as good.  Think in terms of "if I were looking to buy a house, what else would I be interested in?"

  • If you were targeting in marketing car buying behavior here are some options for Facebook interest targeting: used car, car dealership, consumer reports, Honda (plus a variety of exact models), Motor Trend.  Again, what other things would you be interested in while doing research to buy a car?

Facebook targeting options.png

While there are many more to get into, my goal is really just to spark a mindset change from the obvious to the less obvious, but just as good.  Yeah, wouldn't it be great if we knew the exact people that are today looking to buy a Honda Accord.  You also have to think that every Honda dealer you compete with also has access to the same targeting.  We have to get more creative as marketers which will separate the experts from the followers and also drive a competitive advantage that you didn't have before.

At RelayPM we were only using partner categories for about 10% of our Facebook budget and we only have one client using them still, but we've already honed in on some other audiences that work just as good.  If you need any help with your advertising and would like us to review please reach out.