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What Facebook’s New 2018 Ad Targeting Updates Mean to Marketers

What Facebook’s New 2018 Ad Targeting Updates Mean to Marketers

What Facebook’s New 2018 Ad Targeting Updates Mean to Marketers

Find out if Facebook’s recent decision to delete 5,000 ad targeting options will affect your marketing strategy – and how you can adapt if it does.

Recently, Facebook made a dramatic announcement that will impact marketers’ ability to target audiences for paid advertising on its platform.

In August 2018, Facebook published a blog post entitled “Keep Advertising Safe and Civil”. It states that Facebook is removing over 5,000 ad targeting options in order to help prevent abuse of its non-discrimination policies.

Since Facebook Ad Manager is well-known for its powerful ability to target niches audiences, the news left businesses concerned about how they might get through to consumers on an increasingly limited platform.

Months later, we now have a clearer understanding of the changes involved. In fact, the removal of the 5,000+ ad targeting options may not affect your ability to target audiences at all.

In this article, we’ll explain how the changes might affect your advertising and show you what you can do to compensate for the restrictions if necessary.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Understand the New Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

  • Will the Updates Affect Your Marketing Strategy?

  • 3 Tips For Working Around Facebook’s New Ad Targeting Updates

Understand the New Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

In this section, we’ll briefly explain the new changes and show you what businesses will or won’t be affected by Facebook’s new ad targeting updates.

Has Facebook Changed Its Policies?

Facebook paid advertising policies have not changed.

The new Facebook Ads updates are a means of reinforcing its current non-discrimination policies, which state:

“Ads must not discriminate or encourage discrimination against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.”

According to Facebook, ads are discriminatory when they deny opportunities to individuals or groups based on certain personal attributes such as family/marital status, disabilities, or genetic conditions.

What’s Changing About Facebook’s Audience Targeting?

There are 2 main changes that marketers need to know about: 1) The loss of exclusionary ad targeting and 2) The requirement on behalf of advertisers to certify compliance with Facebook policies.

1. Your ability to exclude certain groups of people from paid advertising will become extremely limited.

When tailoring advertisements to your niche audience, you may no longer be able to exclude people based on their demographics, behaviors, or interests.

For example, if you want to exclude people of a certain religion or ethnicity, this may no longer be possible.

Facebook Exclusion Choices

However, you will still be able to narrowly define your audience by including groups of people. Your options to positively target niche audiences haven’t changed.

You can still choose from a wide selection of demographics, interests, and behaviors in order to reach specific buyer personas when placing ads through Facebook Ad Manager.

2. You must certify your compliance with Facebook’s non-discrimination policy.

In order to show that you understand and agree to Facebook’s non-discrimination policy, you’ll be required to review and accept the policy.

The contract is a simple form that shows examples of right versus wrong and also offers more information in case you’re unclear of what’s acceptable.

Facebook Non-Discrimination Policy


Facebook wants to be sure that you understand the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination. They are going out of their way to ensure that you’re held accountable to following their rules.

Find Out If Facebook’s Ad Targeting Updates Will Affect Your Brand

Many brands will not be affected by Facebook's new ad targeting updates. Here’s how to tell if you’ll need to adjust to the new changes:

  • New advertisers:

If you’ve never advertised on the platform before, these updates won’t affect you.

In fact, you’re more likely to be impressed by its powerful ability to target specific types of people and personalities within any budget you specify.

  • Advertisers who do not use exclusionary targeting:

If you do not normally exclude certain groups or types of people when placing Facebook ads, then the updates will not affect your strategy.

  • Advertisers who exclude certain groups or types of people when placing ads:

If you’re accustomed to using exclusionary ad targeting, then the new Facebook ad updates may affect the way your target your audience when placing ads on Facebook.

However, you will continue to be able to reach your niche audience by positively targeting specific audience demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Do The New Updates Pose a Challenge to Your Marketing Strategy?

If the new Facebook ad targeting updates create a challenge for your marketing department, it may help to understand why they’re being instituted.

According to the original Facebook announcement, exclusionary targeting has been used in non-discriminatory ways in the past:

“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important.” - Facebook, Keep Advertising Safe and Civil announcement

In the past, some businesses used exclusionary targeting to restrict certain genders, religious groups, and ethnicities from housing and job markets. It became such a problem that it even spurned lawsuits and caused a complaint to be filed with the Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission.

Additionally, Facebook exclusionary audience targeting has been blamed for allowing actors like the Russian Internet Research Agency to leverage the power of audience targeting to influence the 2016 Presidential election.

If your marketing department understands the reasons behind the ad targeting changes, they may be more motivated to adjust to the changes. These changes are working toward a healthier, more fair consumer environment for everyone and may be considered a worthwhile sacrifice.

Tips for Working Around Facebook’s New Ad Targeting Updates

Below are some tips for enhancing other areas of your advertising to help compensate for the loss of exclusionary targeting.

1.  Narrow Your Goals

If you’ve been relying on Facebook advertising to deliver on multiple levels, such as building an audience and sending traffic to your site, then take a closer look at how you advertise on Facebook.

Choose only one goal for each ad or campaign, and allow your ads to shine.

For example, if you have a new product and are offering a 50% coupon for it, don’t split your efforts by sending them to your website’s homepage. Homepages typically contain a number of links and navigation options that could distract your potential buyers.

Instead, create a dedicated landing page to serve only traffic coming from the specific Facebook 50% off ad. This will help focus your efforts and the interest of your followers on one specific goal.

2. Pump Up Your Facebook Audience Targeting

Facebook Ad Manager’s powerful audience-defining options still offer a wide selection of ways to choose the niche audience you want to show your ads to.

You can still target consumers based on things like education, finance, relationship status, and cultural affinity.

Dig deeper into the options available to you for audience targeting in order to offset the loss of exclusionary targeting.

3. Take Advantage of New Advertising Features

Message Marketing continues to gain popularity. You may want to consider advertising through Facebook Messenger.

Facebook has recently improved the Messenger ad creation process to make it easier for you to place message advertising.


Facebook Ad Manager


Also new is the ability to place ads in Facebook Marketplace, a busy online marketplace in which local people sell used items (much like Craigslist).

4. Get to Know Facebook Blueprint eLearning site

Facebook Blueprint eLearning is a collection of self-paced courses that help you meet objectives by learning:

  • How to generate leads

  • How to drive consideration

  • How to build awareness

Blueprint helps marketers and advertisers get the most out of their Facebook advertising.

Facebook Business Learning Blueprint


Facebook Blueprint eLearning can help you discover new ways to make your advertising more effective.

Not only can you learn more about audience targeting, but you may also discover new options, techniques, and tactics to help with your social media strategy.

If you’re unsure of how to navigate the latest Facebook ad targeting updates, Facebook Blueprint eLearning may be an excellent source of information and ideas.

Moving Forward With Facebook Advertising

In advertising, creating buyer personas and marketing to niche audiences is one of the surest ways to brand success. However, it’s good to be aware of the fine line that separates “audience targeting” from discrimination.

Facebook’s new ad targeting updates may remove 5,000 ad targeting options, but the changes do not limit your ability to target niche groups of people.

Understanding why the updates need to take place can help your team move forward. It may also present the opportunity to open discussions about how to be more inclusive with your own social media strategies along the way.


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