An important note for Facebook advertisers, with Meta announcing that it’ll be removing and/or consolidating some of its detailed ad targeting options, either because they’re not widely used, are too granular, or they relate to topics that “people may perceive as sensitive.”

As explained by Meta:

“Starting January 15, 2024, we’re removing or consolidating some detailed targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive. Existing ad sets with impacted targeting options will continue to run until March 18 2024, but will require you to update your targeting selections. After this date, we will stop delivering ads to the discontinued detailed targeting options, and impacted ad sets may be paused.”

Meta says that the “sensitive” options relate to interests that target elements aligned with health, race, and/or ethnicity.

Which makes sense, especially given the various challenges Meta has faced in the past over unethical, and even illegal use of its ad targeting options.

But it could have an impact on your process, and how you get your Facebook and IG ads in front of the right people.

Meta hasn’t provided specific details of the categories being removed, so it’s hard to measure the potential impact, and the full scope of the changes being rolled out. But it’s another step away from manual, granular ad targeting, which, inevitably, can be used for discriminatory targeting, in various ways.

For example, while you can’t target people based on race, you can target users residing in certain regions, which some would suggest could lead to, effectively, the same result. Given this, there’s no way for Meta to fully remove all forms of questionable audience targeting, while over time, Meta has also continued to improve its automated ad targeting tools, to the point where giving advertisers more manual options is actually, often, more restrictive.

Meta would prefer that marketers use its broad targeting and Advantage+ options instead, which put more reliance on Meta’s systems, and will often drive better performance, by showing your ads to users you may not have targeted yourself.

So while Meta is removing more and more targeting categories over time, you could be better off relying on its systematic display options instead. Which, eventually, seems like it will become the only option for brands.

In any event, it’s worth noting this latest change for your Facebook and IG ads.

Meta says that impacted advertisers will see a warning notification in Ads Manager, alerting them if any of their campaigns require updating after the change goes into effect. Meta also notes that it’ll provide alternative targeting recommendations where possible.

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