With social media platforms constantly adapting to privacy laws and regulations, keeping up with the latest changes and ensuring compliance can be a challenge for advertisers. One such platform, META, has faced its share of legal controversies but still offers some level of advertising through a special ad category. This article will discuss the limitations and benefits of using this special ad category while offering strategies for optimizing your advertising campaigns in the face of these constraints.
In response to concerns raised by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, META phased out the use of special ad audiences related to housing, employment, and credit throughout 2022. By October, Special ad audiences were completely removed from use in new ad creation across Ads Manager and the API, with affected ad sets possibly being paused for delivery. To resume delivery, advertisers had to update their ad sets to remove special ad audiences and explore broader targeting options.
Special ad audiences were similar to lookalike audiences in that they formed a new audience based on the online behavior similarities of people in the source audience. However, special ad audiences had been adjusted to comply with the audience selection restrictions associated with the campaign’s chosen special ad category. Unlike lookalike audiences, special ad audiences do not use targeting information such as age, gender, certain demographics, behaviors, or interests.
Understanding the Special Ad Category Limitations
META’s special ad category is designed to prevent discriminatory practices in advertisements related to credit, housing, employment, and social issues or politics. Advertisers must adhere to certain limitations within this category:
- Age and Gender: Age targeting is automatically set to 18-65 years, while gender targeting is unavailable.
- Audience: Certain demographic, behavior, and interest options are restricted. Lookalike audience expansion and detailed targeting selections are also prohibited.
- Location Targeting: Postal or ZIP codes are not allowed. Location targeting must include all areas within a 15-mile radius of any selected city, address, or dropped pin. In some cases, regions must be used.
- Interests: Broad interests, such as education or real estate, can be targeted, but specific interests or behaviors are off-limits. Advertisers must avoid targeting or updating categories based on age or gender to prevent being flagged by the platform or facing legal consequences.
Maximizing Campaign Effectiveness Despite Limitations
Although the restrictions within the special ad category might seem daunting, advertisers can still find ways to target their audiences effectively within META’s platform. With Facebook’s penetration of 71.43% of US users in 2022, it can be daunting to think you can’t target within the platform, but that simply isn’t the case. There are ways to target within the platform, with some tweaks. Here are some strategies for optimizing your campaigns:
- Nurture users on site: Since targeting and messaging are broad, it’s essential to create relevant and engaging content on your landing page to improve click-through rates.
- Focus on awareness and consideration: Use META for awareness and consideration campaigns, while employing search advertising for more direct response initiatives. Analyze your media mix to understand user journeys and impact.
- Use imagery strategically: Ensure images align with your brand and target audience. For instance, showcase available activities at an assisted living facility or highlight a credit opportunity with an appropriate lead generation form.
- Test and optimize: Utilize split testing to determine which campaigns yield the highest quality leads and performance. Employ dynamic creative optimization to expand your creative options.
- Explore high-intent lead forms: Test high-intent lead forms to gauge audience size and engagement. High-intent lead forms often include targeted questions or fields that help qualify the leads and gauge their level of interest.
- Diversify your media mix: Consider targeting specific audiences on platforms like LinkedIn for a more focused approach. Evaluate the effectiveness of each channel and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Leverage analytics: Use analytics to develop a cross-channel strategy that utilizes social media for discovery and other channels for remarketing efforts. Focus on prospecting and broad audiences within social advertising.
In conclusion, despite the limitations imposed by META’s special ad category, advertisers can still find success by adjusting their strategies and making the most of the available targeting options. By focusing on nurturing users, diversifying the media mix, and leveraging analytics, advertisers can effectively reach their target audience and achieve their campaign objectives.
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