The State of Facebook: Recent Changes in Data and Privacy Concerns

Image of Paid Media Director, Kailee VanDamia

A message from our Paid Media Director, Kailee VanDamia:

What you need to know about the current state of Facebook advertising:

Public outcry surrounding news that Cambridge Analytica matched data from personality quizzes and third-party apps to micro-target up to 87 million Facebook users for political gain has attracted widespread media coverage and affected the public perception of the social network.

Noteworthy announcements:

  • Some reports are stating that Facebook has collected Android users’ phone calls and texts. Facebook claims users opted-in knowingly. Read more.
  • Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress and many expect future regulation over data collection. Read more.
  • In the coming weeks, Facebook will force marketers to verify that they have gained consent to utilize a custom audience or CRM list to target specific Facebook users. Read more.

To publicly address and manage mounting concerns, Facebook made two major announcements that will impact marketers:

  • A redesigned settings menu that allows users to remove items currently leveraged for ad targeting. The goal is that the “experience is now clearer, more visual, and easy-to-find” for users to manage their ad preferences. While this has always been a feature, it’s likely that more people will become aware of the options and update the information that Facebook has collected.
    • Example of current ad settings:

Screenshot of current Facebook ad settings

  • Limiting 3rd-party data providers from targeting users on Facebook. Over the next 6 months, Facebook will phase out some of the options for marketers to mesh third-party data with Facebook targeting. This includes partners such as Experian, Epsilon, and Acxiom.
  • Requiring that marketers verify they have permission to use email addresses to target customers and prospective customers. In the coming weeks, Facebook will require that marketers verify they have obtained the data with explicit user consent before being allowed to use the email addresses for targeting purposes.
    • Geography as determined by Facebook.
    • Age and other demographic targeting visible on a user’s profile
    • Interest targeting based on pages you’ve liked and actions you’ve taken as determined by Facebook
    • “Custom audiences” uploaded from client email databases and matched to specific Facebook users
    • Lookalike audiences based on Facebook’s determination
    • Oracle, Polk, and other 3rd-party data segmentation as allowed through collaboration with Facebook

What This Means for Reunion Marketing Partners and Clients: 

Our goal as your partner is to generate cost-effective conversions for your business. For many of our clients, Facebook ads are playing an important part in generating these types of conversions, particularly because 60% of US adults use the network each month and spend 41 active minutes per day on the platform. Because of this, Facebook continues to be a valuable way to connect your brand’s content with consumers.

We currently use several targeting methods and strategies on Facebook to reach potential customers in your area:

  • Geography as determined by Facebook
  • Age and other demographic targeting visible on a user’s profile
  • Interest targeting based on pages you’ve liked and actions you’ve taken as determined by Facebook
  • “Custom audiences” uploaded from client email databases and matched to specific Facebook users
  • Lookalike audiences based on Facebook’s determination
  • Oracle, Polk, and other 3rd-party data segmentation as allowed through collaboration with Facebook

We anticipate that the recent events will result in limited access to some of these targeting features, as well as increased control from individual users. However, we believe these changes will not be immediate, and we are unlikely to see changes in performance in the short term.

That said, as Facebook limits marketers’ use of the 3rd-party data, we will take the following actions:

  • We will continue to only access data as approved by Facebook. This may mean limited access to Oracle and Polk data in the coming months, as Facebook cracks down on these partner relationships. It may also mean we are not able to utilize your CRM data, if you can not verify that you own that information. We will keep you up-to-date on these developments and whether they are impacting the performance of your marketing on the network.
  • We have not and will not download personally identifiable data from the network.
  • We strictly adhere to network terms and conditions to keep your companies compliant.
  • In light of the events, we will closely watch this network’s marketing efforts and may recommend shifts in strategy or budget to optimize your marketing spends. Over the course of the next six months, this may mean recommending new channels and tactics if Facebook isn’t a top performing way to drive high-quality conversions.

Additional Reading: