Announced back in March 2019, Facebook’s audience targeting changes went into effect as of last month, August 2019. After settling claims with multiple activist groups over unfair targeting practices on their platform, Facebook has since limited the way paid advertisers can target people for ads concerning credit, recruitment, or housing-related services.

If you suddenly noticed last month that your Facebook Advertising campaigns were being disapproved after having successfully run for any amount of time, this rule change was likely the culprit. For financials, this means that ad campaigns talking about loans, credit cards, insurance, home loans, etc. all need to comply with the new targeting rules.

What’s Changed?

In order to comply with the settlements, Facebook has limited the ways in which advertisers can target Facebook users when advertising in these three categories. The limitations are apparent in four different categories:

  • Geography: When advertising for credit, recruitment or housing-related, advertisers can no longer be as granular as they were once able to when targeting geographically. The minimum area that can be targeted is now limited to a 15-mile radius. ZIP code targeting is no longer available.
  • Age and Gender: Advertisers no longer have the ability to target specific age ranges or genders for these three categories. Ads will be delivered to the entire age range (18-65+) and all genders.
  • Special Interests: While this area was already significantly limited after the 2016 election scandal, the special interest area has become even more limited for financial-based targeting. The available targeting in this section is now strictly behavior-based and does not offer any demographic-based components.
  • Look-Alike Audiences: Taking off on where the Special Interests left off, look-alike audiences have also changed for advertisers. Similarly, audiences are no longer built with demographic-based information, but rather with behavior-based information.

What this Means for Your Digital Ads

While this is far from the end of the world for financials using Facebook Advertising to reach consumers, it does present some challenges. At MarketMatch, we believe in well-rounded marketing strategies that blend both traditional and digital channels to achieve the objective. In the same vein, a well-rounded digital marketing strategy uses each channel to the best of its ability.

So, it’s not that financial advertisers should abandon the Facebook platform altogether. Rather, change how we think about and use the platform.

I’ve long advocated that social media advertising – namely, Facebook – presents awareness opportunities and operates more as a digital billboard rather than highly targeted, intent-based advertising. Yes, I know Facebook Experts would push back on that and argue otherwise. The fact still remains that for financial institutions, consumers rarely flock to social media to figure out where their next credit card or checking account relationship will take place.

Our industry is one of careful consideration and planning for the majority of our consumers. Time spent on social media, therefore, lends itself more to brand, product, service and event awareness for banks and credit unions.

What do you think of the changes in Facebook targeting? A good move for Facebook, our industry, and consumers?