How New Facebook Targeting Restrictions Impact Financial Services Ads

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facebook advertising restrictions for financial services

Facebook’s new advertising targeting restrictions have been a hot topic since Meta first announced the changes last fall. The limitations went into effect for new campaigns on January 19, 2022, and impacted all active and future advertising campaigns beginning late March 2022.

We spoke with Media Logic’s Director of Media Integration, Patrick Boegel, about the implications of the changes for FIs and what advertisers can do to optimize targeting going forward.

What targeting options are changing?

The big change relates to “interest”-based targeting, which leverages the interests that people have signaled over time through their actions on Facebook, whether from Page likes or events. Facebook is removing specific topics within the “Detailed Targeting” category, like health, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, political affiliation and race and ethnicity.

Advertisers can still target broadly for criteria like location; basic demographics like gender and age; and some interests that people choose to share on their profiles.

What is the expected impact of the change?

In general, the impact of this change varies based on how reliant the advertiser is on interest-based targeting. Many financial services products already fall under a special category that is highly scrutinized and requires advertisers to be compliant with how they source their data, use Facebook’s data and how they phrase their ad copy. So, FIs may not feel the latest round of changes as acutely as other sectors. For example, FIs are already not permitted to use their data to restrict a product’s availability. Offerings had to essentially be available to everyone. So, if FIs have been abiding by the prior restrictions, they are most likely not relying on interest-targeting exclusively, and as a result, these new changes will not have significant impact.

What are the broad implications of this changes for advertisers?

The changes make proprietary data and custom lists more important than ever. Without your first-party data or approved third-party data, the change will limit targeting to basic demographics and geography. With your own data, you can upload custom lists, as well as generate lookalike lists; you just have to abide by certain rules. Now, companies will want to work even harder to drive people to their websites to enhance their first-party data. This may make it necessary for companies to reconsider what they offer in exchange for consumers filling out forms online, because that personal information is even more valuable for marketing purposes now.

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So retargeting is still allowed in the new restrictions?

Yes. There are no limits on anything you can do from a retargeting standpoint or a targeting standpoint, as long as you use our own data. Facebook is basically removing the data it has accumulated and is no longer allowing advertisers to use that. You have to go out and get data on your own, so you’re totally safe engaging your existing customers. If you’ve got a slate of checking customers and you want them to also utilize a debit card, it’s fair game to work within your existing customer base to continue to sell new products. There’s no restrictions on that because you’re not excluding people based on any characteristics.

Where can advertisers get that data?

Advertisers can get the data in several ways. They can collect it via their websites by having visitors fill out a form with information like names and email addresses. Advertisers can also purchase the data based on the specifications they are looking for — say, parents in their 40s whose kids are starting to look at colleges. Advertisers can also use Facebook’s Conversions API tool, which we’ll talk about later, to keep track of and analyze website visitors.

Is this going to affect the creative development process? How?

The messaging in Facebook ads has to be non-exclusionary. You can’t presume to know who the individual is through your ad, so you have to craft your message so it doesn’t pinpoint people based on characteristics, whether that messaging appears in the ad copy, a video or in audio. You can broadly say, “Are you interested in getting a mortgage?” But if you were to say, “Do you have a poor credit history?” that’s where you get into trouble, because you can’t seem to pick people out based on their financial history.

Do you think Facebook users will notice a change in the ads being served to them?

It’s hard to say what people notice and don’t notice now, but I don’t think it will make a huge difference in the end users’ perception. It’s just going to add more leg work on advertisers’ part to figure out how to get their information to the right people at the right time. Even before the changes, we saw examples of people wondering why they were seeing certain ads, but I think that’s always going to happen. When you’re doing this kind of targeting, it’s never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be data imperfection.

Should advertisers use Facebook’s Conversions API?

Yes. Facebook’s Conversions API will allow data to flow into Google Analytics and be curated in a more useful way. It will enable us to segment why some people click on some ads and fill out landing pages versus others. Right now, we get more of a lump sum deliverable rather than a detailed breakout of data. Facebook has been encouraging advertisers to adopt the Conversions API, and we are trying to get there as quickly as possible.

How is the Conversions API different from the Meta [Facebook] pixel?

The pixel is the simplified version. It worked very well until the iOS 14 privacy changes, which allow people to opt-out of the pixel tracking. Everything on the pixel that is set as a standard data capture is estimated at this point, like if somebody clicks on an ad, it tells you the percent likelihood that they follow through and fill out forms. The Conversions API allows you to fine-tune and hone in on the level of detail. It’s a more detailed curation of information.

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