Facebook Special Ad Category

Facebook Business has long been the gold standard of the digital marketing toolkit. This article addresses the recent update of the “special ad category” and how it affects you as a marketer or as a business. This update was put in place on August 26, 2019 and includes these 3 categories: 

  1. Housing
  2. Employment
  3. Credit

The first question you will be asked when creating a new campaign is if your ad fits any of these 3 categories. So what does this all mean? Along with these new ad categories there are increased restrictions to avoid discrimination. These categories have subcategories to them and the rule of thumb is, if Facebook believes it’s even close to one category it will be grouped as such. 

What are the new limitations? 

The guidelines are as follows:

For ads in certain special categories, the following audience options are different or unavailable:

  • Locations: You can target your ads to people by geographic location (such as country, region, state, province, city or congressional district), but not by ZIP code. Specific locations you select will include a 15-mile radius around that targeted city, address or pin-drop. For example, if you want to reach people in the city of Seattle, your audience will also include people within a 15-mile radius of Seattle’s city center.
  • Age: You can’t edit this option. Audiences must include ages 18 through 65+.
  • Gender: You can’t edit this option. Audiences must include all genders.
  • Detailed Targeting: Some demographic, behavior and interest options are unavailable. Excluding any detailed targeting selections is also unavailable.

How this differs from original targeting on non special ad category pages:

For ads in certain special categories, the following audience options are different or unavailable:

  • Locations: there were no restrictions on the locations, and you could target a radius of up to 50 miles per location. Zip codes were able to be used to segment different neighborhoods.
  • Age: You could manipulate this targeting infinitely, it was a best practice to always comply with the rules as current, however previously it was not required.
  • Gender: Previously you were able to segment which gender you would like to target. 
  • Detailed Targeting: This category is the biggest change that is causing the most trouble for marketers and businesses alike. Previously you could target by things such as, employer, job title, credit score, income level, down to such granular detail such as what kind of car the person drives. With the new changes there is only broad targeting options, mostly just interest based targeting such as people interested in construction, or people interested in trucks. 

So what can you do?

There are still viable options out there! Given the limitations on targeting, it just makes other aspects of your advertisement that much more important. Ad creative, landing page experience, and ad copy really are significantly more important now. Only the first 3 lines of ad copy show up before it is truncated to save space. This illustrates just how important it is to get your point across much sooner in ad copy. 

Special ad category lookalike audiences also provide another solution. If you have an email list, phone list, etc., you can provide them to Facebook and build an audience of those people plus the people Facebook deems comparable to your lists’ interests. That is simply why they call this a “lookalike” audience. Lookalike audiences are a tremendous tool that allows us to not only reach out to people who are already involved in your business, but also reach some people you may have missed!

TLDR. (Too Long Didn’t Read) : Facebook, in an attempt to eliminate discrimination, has implemented special categories for ads in housing, employment and credit. These ads will have higher restrictions on what they can target. There are still options out there to target and have success.