What We Do

How We Do It

Who We Are

The Barnacle

What You Need to Know About the Changes to Facebook Targeted Advertising

Digital Marketing is a fast-paced, ever-changing industry. Facebook advertising in particular has been undergoing numerous small changes since its inception. Recent changes are affecting advertisers on the platform more than ever. With government regulations like GDPR, and CCPA there has been a big push to limit the amount of personal information that the giants in the tech industry have about individuals on their (and in some cases off their) social media network.

How Does Facebook Track Users?

Facebook’s algorithm takes into account all of the interactions a user engages in on its social media platforms, like Facebook.com, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook (Meta) can also pull data from sites that it has permission to do so. When a company adds a Facebook pixel to their website, they are able to track conversions, remarket to interested users, and build look-alike audiences based on website visitors. However, by doing so, they are essentially granting Facebook permission to track all user on that website. Facebook has created more than just a social network. They have created a tracking network spanning the majority of popular websites that you visit every day.

Here is an example. A user logs into Facebook, then the user clicks on an ad, that ad takes them out of Facebook and into the advertisement’s website. That site has a Facebook pixel added to its website’s code. The pixel feeds data back to Facebook. Facebook takes that information, creates assumptions about you based on that information and an immeasurable amount of other data points. These assumptions range from hobbies and interests to political affiliations.

How is Facebook Audience Targeting Changing?

The latest change that Facebook is implementing has to do with its detailed targeting options. According to Facebook,

Detailed targeting is a targeting option available in the “Audience” section of ad set creation that allows you to refine the group of people we show your ads to. You can do this with information such as additional demographics, interests and behaviors.

These detailed targeting options may be based on:

  • Ads they click
  • Pages they engage with
  • Activities people engage in on Facebook related to things like their device usage, and travel preferences
  • Demographics like age, gender and location
  • The mobile device they use and the speed of their network connection

 The detailed targeting options let you target users based on their interests.

Starting January 19, 2022 Facebook will be removing some detailed targeting options that are related to topics people may perceive as sensitive or too personal such as causes, organizations, or public figures, or that relate to health, race, ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.

Here are some examples Facebook provides:

  • Health causes (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”, “Chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
  • Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures

This is not an extensive list, or all the options Facebook is removing, nor does this imply that Facebook is no longer collecting this data about its users. They are simply removing a handful of targeting options from the Ad Manager.

The decision to remove these sensitive topics was made with good intentions. Facebook is making an effort to prevent advertisers from abusing the targeting options they make available. With the amount of information Facebook has about its users, they are constantly tweaking what is made available to advertisers to prevent them from abusing their ad platform capabilities.

Unfortunately, this change may to make it harder for caused-based organizations such as nonprofits to reach their target audience, generate fewer donations through Facebook, and overall increase their cost per conversion.

How to Reach Your Customers with Facebook Ads in 2022

At 2 Fish Company we are constantly on the lookout for changes like these and we do whatever we can to respond and adapt to them. For example, as an organization, we do not typically recommend that clients create audiences based on sensitive topics—even if the options are available. We believe that a person’s personal information is just that, personal.

There are plenty of other ways to reach your target audience without getting all up in their business. The most common targeting option we recommend to clients and implement is location-based targeting. Since the majority of our clients have a relatively small and specific geographic service area, we recommend location-based targeting accompanied by age. If a company were to use both location-based and detailed targeting the audience may become too small to be effective. By creating location-based audiences, a company can reach the highest number of users possible, bringing awareness to unfamiliar users, while also driving conversions with users familiar to the product or service the company provides.

Another great targeting option is creating custom audiences. There are a couple of different ways to do this. One way we recommend is by creating a customer list custom audience by using email addresses from your company’s CRM. To do this all you have to do is import a .CSV file into the Facebook Audience tool and Facebook will pull together a list of users connected to those email addresses. After creating a custom audience, you can create lookalike audiences. A lookalike audience is a group of users who share the same targeting characteristics as your custom audience.

You can also create engagement audiences to reach potential customers. An engagement audience is a custom audience made up of users who have engaged with your content across Facebook’s extensive network of apps and services. These users have already shown direct interest in and engaged with your content and may be interested in your ads in the future. Depending on your social media advertising goals, this is a great way to reach potential customers.


Don’t be afraid of these changes, digital marketing is constantly changing. Yes, these changes could make things more difficult for you but rest assured, it is still possible to reach your audience through social media advertising. At 2 Fish Company, we are doing our best to stay at the forefront of the latest changes and regulations, and we are always on top of these changes.

Creating effective marketing campaigns is still possible no matter what your ad budget is. As always, were here to help. So feel free to reach out! Make a splash and contact us!