« Return



About Facing Facebook's About Face

How the Special Ads Category is Special

In an act of unplanned irony, Facebook, the world’s most invasive profiling network, takes steps to limit others from being able to profile its users. In March 2019 everything changed. Again. That’s when Facebook announced a new privacy policy, protecting users from discriminatory practices from potential employers, requiring placement ads to comply with an updated set of criteria known as… the Special Ads Category. And then, between last March and now, a bunch of other stuff changed. Again. And when this new law fully hits come December, everything’s going to change. Again.

Here’s the lowdown. In March of this year, Facebook announced that it would be restricting the parameters by which employers can target candidates on the platform. From 40,000 possible parameters, advertisers would be restricted to a grand total of 383. Furthermore, ads of this type would be relegated to what’s called a Special Ad Category, making it much easier for Facebook to both manage and alter these rules at any point in time. Given the precedent set by Facebook in the past, this can happen without warning, meaning that advertisers need to build agility into the planning to accommodate last minute changes.

So, what can we do in the meantime until everything changes again?

Parameters and Perimeters. The rules are restrictive, but they do create a perimeter within which you can work. Less choice can often make it easier to make a decision. This means that with 383 possible parameters, it’s simpler to prioritize which attributes best apply to your candidates, then target and spend accordingly. At the same time, with a greater focus on behavioral traits rather than demographic characteristics, your search will be refined more towards performance and practice – much better qualifiers for a candidate anyway. Focusing on fewer, better metrics will net the best candidates.

Act now. As this may and will change without notice, waiting to see what happens will put you several steps behind the competition when these changes come. Find an expert and get them involved with your team now. Invest the time, one way or another, into understanding how it all works, and start deploying as soon as possible.

Diversify. There’s a good chance that if you’re largely focused on Facebook, then as these changes roll out, you may find yourself lagging on KPIs. Look into other platforms and diversify your time and investment across them. The usual suspects (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) are already commonly used across industry segments to find candidates and will take on greater prominence as this change is rolled out. Also, don’t forget the smaller – and seemingly unorthodox – digital channels. 

Pay attention. Facebook made these changes as a result of regulatory and other outside pressures. I believe one of two things will happen: Either Facebook will roll this back slightly or other platforms will have to follow suit. Either way, it’s best to have a plan in place for multiple scenarios so you’re not left scrambling to adjust your ad strategy.

So there it is. Facebook is changing its rules, which means that the rules are changing. However, your needs haven’t changed.  So, adapting now and taking action will ensure that your performance remains top, even in the face of Facebook’s next about face. Now there’s a mouthful.