Target Ads Without Using Personal Data, is it Possible?

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Facebook is attempting a new tool that would allow advertisers to create alternative audiences away from specific targeting. 

The social media giant is convincing advertisers of a new way to identify their potential customers and target ads without using personal data and traits. This is a sensitive issue for Facebook because they’ve been facing allegations of using personal data for targeting ads in the past. 

Facebook claims that they can make accurate profiles of consumers without relying on their personal information including age, gender, ZIP, and other identifying characteristics. This is an alternative route for ad targeting that’s not based on personal data but rather on peoples’ online behavior. 

Special Ad Audience tool 

In preparation for the new feature, Facebook began rolling out updates to its platform. The changes forbid targeting based on race, age, gender, family status, and household income.  

Facebook’s new tool is called a special ad audience. The effectiveness of this feature hasn’t been tested yet. However, advertisers have expressed their concerns regarding the restriction of data use thinking that it might affect the success of their campaigns. 

The special ad audience is a replacement of the ‘lookalike’ audiences. Lookalikes are users with traits from customer profiles given by advertisers. For example, an automaker could share client email with Facebook and provide details about the brand’s loyal customers. Facebook will then be able to serve ads to similar people. That was then. 

Facebook addressing issues after Cambridge Analytica

Facebook removed the third-party data providers from their platform in 2018. On the other hand, Oracle Data Cloud, Epsilon, and Acxiom had been offering their advertisers access to hundreds of hyper-specific audiences but for Facebook, such is no longer the case. The hyper-specific data gave brands instant audiences that are broken down into specific categories such as income, interest, family status, gender, and others.

The days of doing specific targeting on Facebook are over,” says Brad O’Brien, VP of social and content marketing at 3Q Digital. He also added that Facebook ad buyers’ jobs are now changing due to the new feature. Without the specific ad targeting, Facebook is simply telling advertisers to throw their ads out there. This means that their ads must be flexible enough to cater to various kinds of people on the net. 

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