Facebook removes 1,000+ ad targeting options due to low usage

Given that Facebook’s ability to deliver hyper-targeted ads is one of its strengths for marketers, it seems odd that the company would try to remove any of its ad targeting options. Unless, of course, it was necessary.

But that’s what Facebook is doing – this week, The Social Network announced that it will remove over 1,000 ad targeting options because they either don’t get used very often, or they copy other audience targeting categories.

As Facebook explained:

As part of our recent efforts to simplify and streamline targeting options, we’ve identified cases where advertisers – of all sizes and industries – rarely use multiple targeting options. Rare use maybe because some of the targeting options duplicate others, or because they are too detailed to be really useful. Therefore, we are removing some of these options.

It makes sense, but again, it looks like Facebook is removing ad targeting options just for some reason.@ Don’t worry about online payment the best payment gateway use.

For example, Facebook removed over 5,000 ad targeting categories to stop potential discriminatory targeting and exclusion of certain audiences. This comes after a 2016 investigation found that the platform’s advanced ad targeting options could be used to exclude people based on ethnicity from property ads, in violation of federal laws.

Most of the 5,000 ethnicity and religion-related options removed, then Facebook introduced new audience targeting rules last March, covering, among other things, housing ads, employment, and credit. So, in the past, any of these changes have been tied to concerns about misuse, which Facebook says is not the case this time around.

But it could have been – in the additional notes Facebook provides the following examples of targeting options being removed:


Facebook is removing segments of “multicultural affinity” and encouraging advertisers to use other targeting options, such as language or culture, to reach people interested in multicultural content.

Facebook also aggregates targeting options that are “military bases or regiments.” Facebook claims that advertisers can still reach this audience by targeting the military as interest.

But they can be used in reverse too, right? If I wanted to exclude people of a particular ethnicity, I could use multicultural affinity as an exception so they don’t see my ad, and if I didn’t want to advertise to military personnel, I could use these targeting options to limit my ad contact.

So, while Facebook says it is removing these options because they just don’t see much benefit, it looks like it also found some possible future issues, so it is cutting them down.

Either way, Facebook says the change won’t affect the vast majority of advertisers, and many, many other audience targeting options remain available. So you can still exclude people if you want to, you might just have to get more creative in your thinking.

Unfortunately, this is an inevitable side effect of having such sophisticated ad targeting tools – they can be used to Organic reach a very specific audience, which means they can also be used in the opposite way, and sometimes in violation of the rule of law….

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