It’s been a few weeks since Facebook announced it was shutting down Partner Categories in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mark Zuckerberg has made a decision to discontinue all uses of third-party data. That goes for Instagram, too.
A lot of marketers are left wondering what to do next. Their market segment is tightly targeted and without all of the data, they’ll miss their mark, or so they fear. What few outlets have failed to mention is that you’re still going to have access to at least 600 different targeting criteria, plus all that data you’ve collected on your own for newsletters and the like. Custom Audiences is not affected.
What’s Actually Happening at The Social Network
Although Google, Snapchat and other competitors employ the use of third-party data from providers like Experian and Oracle, Facebook has chosen to discontinue this practice. The timing of this choice is interesting. Clearly, Facebook knew about the data breach long before now, but it comes out just as the company has to start preparing for compliance with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, scheduled to go into effect May 25, 2018.
If someone were likely to believe conspiracy theories, they could spin a good one from all this news! It may not be a conspiracy, but there is something going on there. Facebook has also temporary blocked new chatbots and apps from launching until it can sort out its data audit process. This may be yet another case of The Social Network’s unchecked growth lacking the bones to support it. In fact, many of the biggest moves at Facebook have been reactive, not proactive. This is probably no different. For comparison, the Equifax breach of 2017 affected around 150 million Americans.
How Marketers Move Forward
Of course, you want to know what to do to move forward with just 600 targeting criteria to work with now that Facebook is closing Partner Categories.
Honestly, you have almost as many options as you did in January. For now, you’ll still see and be able to target using Partner Categories for non-EU residents until June 30, but after September 30 the lights on that go off for the last time.
Even if your favorite data is on the no-go list now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Remember marketing before Facebook let you drop a specialized note on every person’s lap?
Some of these tactics may come in handy:
- Widen Your Audience. Simple, yes. Costly, maybe, but only if you get too wide. Just because you believe that mothers over 25 with two kids and a minivan are the perfect people to buy your product doesn’t mean that younger women, and even men, might be interested, too.Don’t go crazy, because it will cost you a bundle, but experiment with removing all of those third-party data sources and just see what happens. Consider this Extreme A/B Testing.
- Position Yourself Properly. Just what is your value proposition? How are you going to solve a problem or improve on something already in the market? Unless your company survives solely on retargeting, you should really give this some thought. Rebuild your ads to focus hard on this question.Maybe you make a tire inflator that stops at a preset PSI, so the car owner doesn’t have to worry about over-filling their tires. Show what happens when they do. Show, don’t tell, and make it easy to understand.
- Check Out Your Current Audience Data. This may sound like the most obvious advice in the world, but have you looked at your audience data lately? Maybe there are some hints there as to how to go about targeting with fewer criteria. Your 25 and older moms might not be as much of your audience these days if you’ve not had an eye on your data. It could be that all 25-year-old people are interested in your product.Even if the data doesn’t reveal anything new, you can still do a great deal of targeting. Find a new way to get to the audiences you need to reach, but make sure they’re really who you think they are first.
The sheer amount of data that Facebook still has available for marketers means that few will be left completely in the cold. You may have to change your tactics a bit or adjust your targeting, or even give a wider audience a try. None of these are bad angles to take, to be sure. It’s time marketers remembered to do a little more marketing, even when they’re using advertising tools that allow access to so much intimate data.