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Facebook Is Removing Partner Categories
What Facebook's walled garden means for your campaigns using third-party data.
By Kyle Kienitz

August 16, 2018

3 min read
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What’s Happening

Facebook will soon shut down its third-party data integration program called Partner Categories. This means that outside data from companies like Oracle and Acxiom cannot be used to supplement audience targeting strategies for ads on Facebook. As a result, much of the targeting many agencies and advertisers use will soon go away.

Unfortunately, Facebook will not provide a list of all categories going away, but broadly speaking some examples are:*

  • Household income
  • Automotive shoppers
  • Company size
  • Charitable donations
  • Credit union member
  • Corporate executives
  • Retail purchase behavior
  • Likely to move
  • Business travelers

Targeting strategies most affected are ones based on behavioral data. It will also be challenging to adapt if you heavily rely on specific demographics, like household income, and you don’t have first-party data.

Ultimately, we don’t expect performance to change much, but if you run campaigns on Facebook that include third-party data, you will need to reevaluate your strategy and targeting.

 

When

These changes to Facebook’s Partner Categories will take effect October 1, 2018. After that date, third-party targeting options will not be available.

This update was announced on March 28. Until a few weeks ago, a lot has been up in the air. Now that the details are more concrete, we understand a little more about what to do about it.

 

What To Do About It

The good news is that some audience segments have suitable replacements within Facebook’s targeting options. So, Facebook’s own first-party data will be able to fill some of the gaps created by removing Partner Categories.

We recommend taking the following steps for your campaigns that incorporate third-party data:

  1. Create a list of all Facebook ad sets that currently include third-party targeting categories.
  2. At a date no later than 7 days before the October 1 deadline, shut these ad sets off.
  3. Substitute their targeting where appropriate to match the previous categories as close as possible.

If you need help with any of these steps feel free to reach out to us.

 

A Few Interesting Things

Because Facebook is trying to shore up their walled garden, it would benefit them to make their first-party data more robust. It’s possible that in the coming months, some of the capabilities eliminated by removing Partner Categories will be replaced by options Facebook has complete control over.

Facebook’s policy on uploading first-party data has not changed. This provides a bit of a workaround for those with access to their own first-party data because you just have to self-report where the data is coming from. So, you may be able to add third-party data sources if you use them to supplement your first-party data before on-boarding it all into Facebook. There are a lot of restrictions with on-boarding first-party data, so it would be tricky to make this work. Also, most advertisers and agencies do not have robust enough access to first-party data to facilitate this. The big takeaway here is that this process puts the responsibility on the advertiser as far as legality of uploaded first-party data.

 

If you have any questions or would like help with the steps outlined above, let us know.

 

 

*Source: Jon Loomer

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