Meta’s Targeting Policy: What Marketers Need to Know

Meta's Targeting Policy: What Marketers Need to Know

By deleting certain ad targeting possibilities, Meta is just decluttering its toolbox, say analysts, who are certain that the impact, if any, on advertisers would be limited.

Meta’s recent blog post regarding removing some detailed targeting options has sparked worry in the marketing sector. Advertisers have adjusted to algorithm modifications and regulatory changes, but the stakes rise when the changes concern sensitive themes that may affect ad targeting techniques.

For those who are unfamiliar, Meta recently announced on its blog that it was discontinuing some detailed targeting options because they are either not widely used, redundant with others, too granular, relate to topics that people may perceive as sensitive (e.g., targeting options referencing causes related to health, race, or ethnicity), or are required by law or regulations. “We will provide alternative targeting recommendations within Meta Ads Manager when possible,” the company said.

The key question here is whether advertising should be concerned. Industry experts are divided in their opinions. Some argue that the tech giant’s action should not be as concerning for advertising and marketers. At the same time, some argue that the only segment that will feel the influence to some degree is political and propaganda advertising.

This procedure began in mid-January and will continue until March 18, 2024, for current ad sets with the affected targeting options. “After this date, we will stop delivering ads to the discontinued detailed targeting options, and affected ad sets may be paused,” the blog post stated.

Experts provide a soothing viewpoint, downplaying the possible implications for marketers. Some compare it to a routine recalibration, pointing out that the abandoned alternatives are frequently underutilized or too specific to have a substantial impact on marketing campaigns. “It’s like streamlining a cluttered toolbox; you get rid of the tools you never use and focus on the essentials,” says a digital marketing expert.

Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO of ReBid, agrees, stating that the impact, if any, will be minimal. “I don’t think they are going to see like a 10% drop in spending of any sort,” he told reporters.

However, Dingra believes it will be interesting to see how performance marketing will be affected by the phase-out of cookies by the end of the year, as well as what Meta does to counteract this. “The avenues of large-scale targeting are so limited, that I don’t think Meta’s current market share whether in India or globally is going to be that heavily impacted, at least till the cookies deprecate,” he went on to say.

This move by Meta, however, is not novel in the industry. The tech behemoth has previously disabled various ad targeting choices due to sensitivity and ad safety.

A digital analyst explained, “They began mostly with political advertising since political ads can be hyper-targeted down to the zip code level. The intention is that there has been a significant quantity of divisive or polarising content on platforms such as Meta and, more broadly, on the internet. So, by deleting several of these targeting options, you will be unable to target extremes.”

According to him, while this trend affects some firms, it has a greater impact on political or propaganda advertising. “But that is probably a good thing, you don’t need that amount of propaganda.”

Experts believe that the move will influence ad targeting by increasing expenses for those who use ad targeting alternatives. However, in the grand scheme of things, it is unlikely to have an effect of more than 2-3%.

“For the majority of categories and enterprises, I do not believe it will be a huge issue. Most Meta-marketing uses Custom or Lookalike audiences, which are still available, thus it may not harm large-scale efforts”, according to Prasun Kumar, Business Head at Magicbricks.

Having said that, he also stated that most brands understand that first-party audiences are where marketing should focus and grow. And that is where the future is going. “Also, reducing sharp targeting possibilities will have an impact on the quality of output from Meta and Google platforms. Both advertisers and platforms are well aware of it. As a result, I expect a sensible equilibrium to be maintained,” Kumar remarked.

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