Earlier this year Facebook announced in a brief statement that they would be shutting down their Partner Categories feature as part of the effort to ‘improve people’s privacy on Facebook1’. This should come as no surprise following the Cambridge Analytica Data scandal which has had ongoing media coverage over the last few months causing uproar amongst users and official’s alike. Facebook have been making a lot of changes to how they use data and user privacy over the last few months following all the scandal and upcoming GDPR policies within the EU. Partner Categories is one of their features that have been identified by them as a ‘need to shut this down’. But what is this and what does it mean for advertisers on Facebook?

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Photo credit: William Iven – Unsplash

What are Facebook Partner Categories?

In some targeting options, Facebook uses data from third-party data partners to allow advertisers to target people based on their offline behaviours. This can cover things such as being a homeowner or whether you are loyal to a certain brand or product. The data is collected by third-party partners who gather and model data from a range of sources such as public records, surveys and independent data providers.

Current partners within this are Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian Marketing Services, Oracle Data Cloud and Quantium. All of these fall within the Audience Data Provider specialism and cover a wide geographical market and demographic. Partner Categories can help advertisers better target users by expanding their reach if they don’t have access to customer data.

Facebook is still licking its wounds from earlier data scandals but in an effort to future-proof/protect themselves, they have been clamping down on any ad practice that may potentially be vulnerable to backlash/in breach of data regulations and bodies.

When Will Facebook Partner Categories No Longer Be in Use?

Unfortunately for some who may rely on this, it has already started. Facebook have split the removal into two geographical based timelines.

EU Audiences

In line with the EU’s impending GDPR update (effective 25th May 2018) campaigns targeting the UK, Germany and France have the following timelines:

  • 11th May 2018 – Advertisers will not be able to create, edit or duplicate campaigns built on audience targeting that uses Partner Categories. However, existing campaigns can continue to run until 24th May 2018
  • 24th May 2018 – No campaigns will be delivered to Partner Categories after this date using audiences based on the UK, Germany or France.

Australia, Brazil, Japan and US Audiences

There is still time within these markets to use Partner Categories, however, time is ticking…

  • 2nd July 2018 – Partner Categories will no longer be available for campaign creation, editing or duplication.
  • 1st October 2018 – No campaigns will deliver to Partner Categories after this date.

What does this mean for my Facebook advertising?

Typically, the majority of advertisers on Facebook don’t rely heavily on Partner Categories however, if you do fall within those that use this feature it’s time to reassess how you can increase your audience reach via different tactics and start thinking outside the box of what you were previously doing.

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Photo credit: Nikita Kachanovsky – Unsplash

One way to do this is to relook at your Facebook Advertising target audiences and reassess/analyse the buyer personas. This will help you get into the mindset of those you want to reach and from this you can look for other interests or categories within Facebook categories that were/are similar to Partner Categories you are/were using.

However, I would take this as an opportunity to analyse what has worked for you to date and see this as an opportunity to get creative, start experimenting and think outside of the box when it comes to your campaigns.

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  1. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/h/shutting-down-partner-categories/ accessed 15-05-2018

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