Will Facebook’s Off-Facebook Activity Tool Affect Ad Targeting?

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In June 2019, Facebook will begin rolling out its new tool that shows users a summary of the apps and sites that are reporting their off-Facebook data to Facebook through Business Tools, as well as the Facebook Audience Network. Users will also be able to clear their history, deleting all previous off-Facebook data and resetting Facebook login connections, which can then no longer be used for targeting.

The tool was announced last year and global availability is expected to be complete by the end of September this year.

Facebook has spoken with businesses, agencies and industry bodies and as a result, has put together a list of points to keep in mind as the feature comes into play. They are:

  • Transparency and control – when people are informed about how their information is used, it improves the way they feel about ads and the businesses they interact with online.
  • Education – helping people understand how advertisers use their business tools will help people understand what data they share.
  • May impact targeting – not having access to off-site activity may impact ad targeting. Facebook suggests keeping this in mind when developing campaigns in the second half of this year.
  • Measurement will remain intact – Facebook said measurement and analytics tools have been carefully designed to protect people’s identity.

“Though Facebook retains the data after history is cleared, that information can no longer be used to target ads or other content to users on Facebook or Instagram, but can be used in aggregate by Facebook to provide analytics and measurement services for apps and website,” commented Emily Kramer, vice president, display media at Merkle.

“Going forward, the off-Facebook data generated from their activity on those apps and sites will not be used to personalise ads or other Facebook content,” she continued.

Will this affect all ad targeting on Facebook?

Advertisers will be limited by consumer choices, which is Facebook’s goal in providing this tool to the public. However, will it affect ad targeting on Facebook as a result?

“No. Off-Facebook Activity will not have an effect on any ad targeting derived from on-Facebook data, like interest targeting – which is derived exclusively from on-Facebook activity, or on CRM audience targeting. Only targeting based on data collected by Facebook’s Business tools, including pixel-based retargeting, will be affected,” said Kramer.

So what would be the potential impact?

“Significant consumer adoption would limit advertisers’ targeting and remarketing scale, and drive additional reliance on Facebook’s interest-based targeting solutions,” commented Kramer. She also believes that measurement won’t be affected as “Facebook will still be able to provide accurate reporting based on targeting that is available and in use.” Finally, “cost efficiency of media on Facebook may be impacted, as advertisers will have to target less specifically when consumers take advantage of the new capability,” continued Kramer.

What should you do?

Kramer recommends incorporating prospecting tactics to allow the algorithm to re-learn the most efficient way to target the users that clear history but do not opt out of future targeting. She also suggests incorporating lookalike audiences based on CRM lists into media plans to identify likely customers, regardless of their use of the off-Facebook activity offering, and to monitor off-Facebook targeting segments closely to evaluate performance and scale.

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