Facebook say it won’t use third-party data targeted advertising – but what does that mean?

PUBLISHED: 14:26 30 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 30 March 2018

Jonathan White of the White Organisation.

Jonathan White of the White Organisation.

Joseph Casey Photography

Facebook has announced it will no longer offer ad targeting options reliant on third-party data. But what does that mean for you? Marketing consultant Jonathan White explains.

Facebook said on Thursday it would remove ad targeting options that relied on consumer data from third-parties such as Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud, Experian, Epsilon, and others.

This data is used by marketeers to create very specific targeted audiences, to allow adverts to be placed in front of the right people, who are more likely to take action.

In my opinion, this was bound to happen considering the news around Cambridge Analytica who are being investigated in the US and UK for allegedly using underhanded tactics to impact the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential elections. When I have been speaking at events and in my training, I have used the Trump targeting scenario to show how easy it is to get a message to certain people. The reactions are always: “Wow, that is Big Brother.”

Data that is used from these third-parties include the type of houses people live in, their household annual income, the type of car that is being driven, the number of children and ages in the family, people’s spending habits, financial data and much more.

As an example, this week I was asked to look at a campaign for people who are first-time mortgage owners with a specific income, probably looking to move and thinking about their second mortgage. This would have been possible to do, meaning all the ad spend would only be on that group of people, very smart and specific marketing. From next week this will not be possible.

Marketeers will still be able to target life events that Facebook users are in control of. For example: setting their own status to engaged, married, their birthday, geographical demographics and their interests which have been gained through the different pages users visit and engage with. This means my example of the second mortgage will have to be set up for people who are visiting pages relating to moving home and mortgage providers. Still targeted, but not so granular.

Custom audiences will also remain, which are targeting options to get adverts to people who have previously visited businesses websites. They also include businesses consented email lists, which are then matched to the Facebook user’s email address, which they manage their account with.

Pretty much all the campaigns I run for my clients are not affected, as they either use custom audiences or information that is managed by the user within Facebook itself, such as the wedding campaigns I run, targeting people who will one day get married – perfect for wedding venues. I have used household income, family and types of homes that people live in – which is a good choice for landscape gardeners. You don’t want to display ads to people living in tower blocks for landscaping!

Twitter has been trending #DeleteFacebook. What some people don’t know is that Twitter uses similar methods of data, using third-party data to create these targeted campaigns. I think in some instances Twitter has better targeting options as you can even target people by the month their insurance runs out! I’m pretty sure Snapchat and Google are in the same boat, so watch this space.

We must remember we all have a digital footprint which we leave behind wherever we go. It’s important that the people who have access to this data use it in accordance with the law. That’s why changes are coming in May with GDPR.

So, a change ahead, but a way where data and privacy can be protected for the better.

• Jonathan White delivers sales and marketing support through the White Organisation, based in Norwich.

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