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Facebook's October 1 Ad Targeting Changes: How Your Nonprofit Is Impacted

While you may have heard about the issues Facebook has been recently facing in the news, you might be less aware of how those issues are affecting advertisers. At the end of September, Facebook officially removed all third-party targeting capabilities from the advertising system—an update that will directly affect charities and nonprofits using the platform. This change went into effect on October 1. Also, Facebook has already started phasing in new requirements for political ads to prevent interference in the 2018 midterm elections. Believe it or not, nonprofits will be affected by these new restrictions as well. 

Removal of Partner Categories – What This Means for Nonprofit Organizations:
Facebook has long worked with data partners (Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud, and Epsilon, to name a few) to give advertisers information on people based on their offline activities. These so-called “Partner Categories” allowed advertisers to further refine ad targeting based on behavioral targeting parameters.
Behavioral targeting was a great tool to reach users who took part in activities that a nonprofit determined could result in higher conversion rates on their ads. Some of the commonly used behavioral targeting categories are now disappearing from the platform including the below: 
•    Charitable Donations
•    Household Income 
•    Purchase Behavior
•    In-Market Audience

While Facebook’s partnerships with data partners have historically given them a leg up in terms of advanced targeting capabilities, Facebook will remain an extremely useful targeting tool to organizations and agencies. With the upcoming reduction in targeting data, advertisers will need to prepare to adapt and reorganize some of their targeting strategies. 

Getting Creative in the Absence of Partner Categories
Since Custom Audiences and Facebook’s user provided data will still be available for targeting use, it will be your job to find workarounds to make up for these lost targeting capabilities. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
•    If you aren’t already doing it, retargeting is a great way to reach people who have been on your site but haven’t completed a valued action 
•    Your own customer lists can be some of the most valuable targeting out there — work on building out custom audiences and uploading them to target the matches
•    Brainstorm on how you can use Facebook’s first-party interest targeting capabilities to reach the same types of audiences you have in the past

How Nonprofits Will Be Affected by Facebook’s Political Policies
Facebook now requires all advertisers who want to run ads with political content in the U.S. to complete an authorization process. Both ad account admins and page admins are required to get their page approved to run ad topics that have election-related ads and issue ads. Their decision as to what qualifies as a political ad is surprisingly broad, and often results in ads being incorrectly disapproved. 

Ads with political content include both election-related ads and issue ads. Issue ads are ads about topics of public importance that people are debating across the country. The platform’s list of top-level issues that will require political authorization include wide-ranging concepts, such as education, environment, health, military and values, many of which are represented by nonprofit organizations. 

Mistakenly disapproved ads may become more common than before. Thankfully, Facebook gives advertisers a chance to fix ads that have issues. Initial reviews are done by a bot, as there are too many ads going live on the platform at any given time for people to realistically take on. There is a team in place that does manual ad reviews when the bot does make a mistake.

While there is no good way to get around this new quality filter Facebook has put into place, it is recommended to temporarily turn your ads on several days before a campaign launch to prevent any delays in approval. This also helps ensure that there is enough time to make necessary changes to your creative.



Dina Trembisky

Digital Advertising Coordinator