Over the last few years, concerns over the nature of online privacy have reached a boiling point, and many prominent online platforms have been forced to take a more proactive approach to safeguarding user data. The most obvious example of this is Facebook, which caught fierce criticism in the wake of the 2016 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The outcry has led Facebook to make some significant changes to its engagement with user data. These changes are only now taking effect and could have big implications for advertisers who depend on user data for ad targeting. In this post, we’ll outline everything advertisers need to know about the new Facebook privacy rules.
About the Changes
Upon drawing such widespread ire for its data collection policies, Facebook redoubled its efforts to demonstrate a commitment to transparency, as well as to providing users with more control over how their personal data is harvested, stored, and used. For instance in Spring 2018, Facebook formally announced a Clear History option, giving users more control than ever before over their personal data. Specifically, this feature promised users the option of disconnecting the information that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook.
This announcement was met with approval, but there was a bit of a delay in its implementation; indeed, the feature, now called the Off-Facebook Activity Tool, wasn’t unveiled until August of this year. Basically, the tool provides users with a list of websites and apps that may have collected data from them. You can view this tool and then denote which ones you wish to disconnect from your Facebook account.
Additionally, Facebook has made clear that users are now in control over the data shared by Facebook itself… though it’s worth noting that Facebook will still collect and store data as they see fit.
All of these new privacy features are a boon to the end user, but they come with some potential side effects for advertisers, many of whom have come to rely on some of the data-driven functionalities that Facebook enables. The question is, what can advertisers do to prepare for these consequences, many of which are only now beginning to take effect?
Adjusting to the New Facebook Privacy Options
Here are just a few points we’d offer to advertisers who wonder how the new Facebook privacy options will impact their strategy.
- First of all, be aware that there is certainly going to be less data to draw from. Users now have the option to disconnect their off-Facebook activity, which means that data can no longer be used in targeting.
- Facebook’s own measurement and reporting tools, however, will continue to provide the same level of data as ever before. These tools were actually designed to protect user privacy, so they’re not really affected by these new privacy stipulations. The company has been vocal in saying that it does not anticipate changes in its data analytics tools.
- Basic targeting options are still available to advertisers… and they still work, too! Some targeting parameters have been retired, but it’s still possible to target based on behavior, interests, and demographics. This remains a powerful way of ensuring your ads are seen by the people you most want to see them.
- Additionally, advertisers still have the option of targeting people who already Like their Facebook page. This isn’t going to be useful in every campaign, and won’t really help you build an audience, but if you’re trying to increase engagement among your current users, this can be a smart option.
- Keep in mind that for now, in order for these privacy restrictions to have an impact, users must go in an manually adjust their privacy settings. It is likely that only a small percentage of Facebook users will take the time to do this, so for the time being there will still be a substantial data set for advertisers to continue to use for targeting.
- Something else to be aware of is that the dust hasn’t necessarily settled on Facebook’s new privacy policies. The company anticipates additional changes to its relationship with user data, and there’s really no telling what those changes might be or when they can be expected. Change is an inevitable part of social media advertising, and we’d encourage advertisers to stay vigilant!
To that end, the enCOMPASS team is committed to keeping our clients in the loop; as more changes occur in the Facebook Ads platform, we’ll make sure we send out updates, letting you know what’s happening and what it means for your strategy.
Stay in the Loop with enCOMPASS
For now, you may have some questions about what these changes mean for your advertising efforts. First and foremost, know that we pride ourselves in being nimble, and have made adjustments to client strategies as needed to keep up with these new privacy policies.
And, we’re always happy to talk with you about these developments. If you’d like to chat about Facebook Ads and the new privacy rules, reach out to the enCOMPASS team at any time.
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