What impact will Facebook’s targeting update have on the third sector?

By Hayley Coleby, Associate Director and Head of Social at The PHA Group.

Last month, Facebook announced that it is removing certain ad targeting options on its platform. As part of this change, advertisers are no longer able to target “topics people perceive as sensitive” – which includes referencing health causes, sexual orientation, religious practices and more.

According to Facebook, the reasoning behind this change was that these “targeting options could be used to reach people from underrepresented groups that lead to negative experiences”. However, this change will also have an unexpected but significant impact on advertisers who are trying to generate positive societal change, such as charities.

Smaller charities, such as our third sector clients like Smile Train and Lotus Sanctuary, will be hit hardest as they rely heavily on targeting specific interest groups in order to reach audiences who might support their work through donations. Whereas largest charities such as Cancer Research UK, have huge existing audiences already, so may not notice much difference.

Awareness days – which create key campaign moments for many charities and provide a strong income-driver for charities – will also look very different as a result of these new changes.

Facebook has been working to simplify its targeting options over time in a bid to encourage advertisers to use broad targeting by age and demographic. While this suits advertisers with large budgets, it leaves smaller advertisers (such as charities) playing catch up.

There are, however, alternative ways advertisers can make use of Facebook owned data through custom audiences. This includes:

Engagement custom audiences – individuals who have shown an interest in your cause or brand by engaging with your previous content.

Website custom audiences – using a pixel to retarget people who have been on a specific site.

Custom Lists – creating custom audiences from customer data

For the consumer, however, this more sophisticated and streamlined algorithmic targeting will be an improvement, as it will ensure they get served ads for services and products which are tailored to their specific tastes. For example, for a person who identifies as being part of the LGBTQ+ community being targeted with all things LGBTQ+ related, they will be targeted with much more ads associated to their specific interests.

In summary, given this new change, it’s more important than ever that brands create attention-retaining creative, and stay ahead of the curve. It is also imperative that brands are well read on the ever-changing Facebook ad ecosystem, to ensure they are amending their campaign strategy and targeting point of view accordingly.

We must continue to support our clients, especially our third sector clients, through these changes to ensure they are well equipped to adapt to the developments of paid social advertising. In order to do this, testing will be key, as well as utilising the vast suit of creative options available to us.

Leave a Reply