Facebook Data Changes – What Advertisers Should Know

By: Katrina Stroh, Media Director | April 10, 2018 

As many of you are aware, Facebook has been battling user privacy concerns following the investigation into the Cambridge Analytica data breach.  As a result, Facebook has tightened the reigns on all data practices in an effort to show users they are serious about protecting their personal information. (Although some may argue these data changes are just “smoke and mirrors” to show immediate action, rather than actually getting to the root of the internal issue.)

Either way, we understand that navigating this topic is confusing, especially to a non-media expert. Therefore, following our call with Facebook, we have broken down the basics of what you really need to know about the changes and how it will impact your advertising campaigns. (Caveat: changes regarding this matter are influx, therefore this is reflective of what we know at this point in time.)


  1. Immediate removal of “Custom Audience Insights” capability
    • What’s Custom Audience Insights?
      • It’s a really snazzy tool that allows us to upload first-party audience data (CRM lists, Website visitors, etc.) into Facebook and match users to Facebook user ID’s in order to gain deeper insights about advertiser’s current customer base beyond basic demographics (insights include income, in-market behaviors, purchase behaviors, etc.).
    • How this impacts you?
      • Advertisers will no longer be able to gain insights about their first-party audience data through this tool.
    • Additional Insight:
      • It is still uncertain if this capability will be permanently removed, however we have been informed they are considering rolling out a “Custom Audience Certification Tool” that would allow advertisers access through a special certification. This would allow them to screen and limit access to prevent disreputable advertisers from obtaining access for questionable purposes.
  2. All “Third-Party Partner targeting” will be completely unavailable beginning Oct 1st 2018
    • What’s third-party partner targeting?
      • It’s the ability to use outside data partners to target against additional data layers not currently collected from Facebook. In addition, Facebook also incorporates certain third-party data into its existing dashboard available to all advertisers, therefore the jury is still out on what data will no longer be available come October.  Using third-party data is a standard practice across all other digital channels (display, video, native, mobile, etc.) and by using them in Facebook it usually enhances targeting precision and media performance.
    • How this impacts you?
      • Targeting capabilities will be reduced, therefore potentially hindering future performance. The impacts can range depending on how much third-party data is being used to target your core customer. For high-level demographic targeting, you can be assured your campaigns will be minimally impacted, whereas campaigns that isolate specific in-market behaviors or purchases, you may expect significant changes in performance.
    • Additional Insight:
      • M+ is still investigating the exact list of data parameters that will be impacted and will provide a POV and solution of how to best navigate these changes on an individual client basis.

In closing, even with the removal of third-party data on Facebook and Instagram, there is still a plethora of rich user data still available within these platforms as users continue to share their interests, life events, and day to day behaviors with their network of friends and family.  We are confident that in light of recent changes, Facebook will continue to evolve its advertising and targeting offerings in a way that will still prove beneficial to advertisers.  M+ will continue to stay abreast ongoing changes within the platform and maintain a nimble approach by evolving strategies that tap new channel and targeting opportunities and minimize any decline in performance.

 “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat” -Steve Jobs

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