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Review of Facebook's Latest Targeting Options Update

Over the last 6 months Facebook has implemented several changes and updates with regards to its targeting policies. Now, Facebook has offered some extra updates about its ad targeting tools and advertiser education. We examine the changes they have made, what impact it may have on advertisers on Facebook and how they can cope with this latest update.

4 min read

Removal of Some Targeting Options

Last year, Facebook revealed it would review some of its targeting options such as multicultural affinity groups and other possibly sensitive areas in order to reduce the amount of discriminatory behaviour on the platform. Now, as part of the review, from September 4 onwards, Facebook has announced it will be removing more than 5000 targeting options from its platform for campaign creation, duplication and editing in order to prevent the misuse of these targeting options.Targeting options related to ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexuality etc. are amongst the options that will no longer be made available to advertisers.

Although Facebook is more than aware that most of the time these targeting options have been used in good faith and in legitimate ways with the aim of reaching people who may be interested in a product or service, the social media giant believes minimising the risk of abuse and discrimination is of utmost importance.

This includes implementing limitations to the ability to exclude audiences that are related to attributes such as religion or ethnicity. We are aware that these changes can be disruptive to your work and so is Facebook. Therefore, from September 4 onwards, Facebook will be providing notifications from within the API and its Ads Manager about exactly which of your created ad sets will be impacted by these changes and will require updates to its targeting options. On that day, you will be asked to review, edit and re-save your ad sets, whilst any affected targeting will be removed automatically when you are editing impacted ad sets in order to ensure a smooth updating process. Any ongoing campaigns that are using one or several of the impacted targeting options will be automatically paused on October 1 until they have been updated.

The Expansion of Advertiser Education

For more than a year, Facebook has required advertisers, that have been identified as ones that offer housing, employment or credits ads, to confirm and verify their compliance with Facebook’s non-discrimination policy. In the next couple of weeks, Facebook will be asking all US advertisers to review and certify their compliance with Facebook’s policy through Facebook’s own Ads Manager. Over time, this will be expanded to advertisers in other countries as well.

Facebook has designed this education after consulting with external experts in order to stipulate the differences between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination. Facebook is very aware of how valuable targeting can be for businesses and people alike, and they will do all that we can to provide an advanced notice and help you in preparing for transitions when and where it is possible.

What can you do about it?

Yes, these changes could potentially make advertisers’ jobs a bit trickier and more challenging, however, there’s no reason to be too downbeat about it. There are still many impactful ways in which you can still reach your target market with your Facebook ads. Use this as an opportunity to explore alternate options in which you can still deliver your message to the audience you want.

Here are a few alternative targeting options which you should consider.

Targeting by Interest

Facebook harvests lots of data based on what its users engage with on the platform in the form of ‘Likes’. Although it represents one of the most basic ways of targeting users with Facebook ads, its data consists of information related to the actual behaviour that users exhibit on the platform. So using targeting based on income as an example, which has now been deprecated and removed, advertisers can possibly target wealthy users who have shown interest in expensive or luxurious items.

Custom/Lookalike Audience

This is another proven and effective way of targeting the people you want to reach. First, by installing the Facebook Pixel on your website, you can start retargeting people who have shown interest in your product or service. Afterwards, you can use the data you have collected to form a Lookalike Audience so you can find and target people that have similar behaviour patterns and interests to your website’s visitors.


Use advanced geo-targeting to target people who live in a specific area or location, people who travel (frequently) to a specific location or people who were recently in a specific location. This can give you an idea of where your target market is visiting on a frequent basis or spending long periods of time.

What do you think of these recent changes? Do you have an idea about how you’re going to deal with this situation? We’re curious to see what your thoughts are on this targeting update by Facebook! Want to stay up to date with The Next Ad’s latest news, updates, blogs and more? Simply click on the button below to subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

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