On May 14, 2019 Facebook announced a set of new changes that allow their users to take more control of “Off-Facebook Activity” tracking. This change effectively includes two new changes for advertisers. First, Facebook will now expose to end-users which organizations are utilizing Facebook tools to collect data on them. This is inclusive of, “a list of the apps and websites someone visits that use our business tools such as the Facebook pixel, SDK, and API.” In addition, Facebook is including a new feature to allow its users to opt-out of off-Facebook site tracking.
Facebook has had a difficult year with continual PR challenges related to privacy, starting with the news of Cambridge Analytica, a third-party firm that gained access to the private information of nearly 50 million Facebook users.1 This data was later sold and used in ad targeting. Facebook responded relatively swiftly and moved to block third-party data input into its Platform’s advertising tools.2 This also included the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerburg being called to testify before the US Congress on the data breach.3
It is clear that 2019 is very much the year of privacy, as Facebook is not alone in their efforts to improve their user privacy tools. Mozilla, recently announced new user data security features to be included in their upcoming updates to their popular ‘Firefox’ web browser.4 Google, who controls two-thirds of the global Internet browser market share through their browser Chrome, announced new security and data privacy features in April.5
For digital advertisers, the attempts of browser developers and social media platforms to reduce passive user tracking may sound scary. And the changes may bring some new challenges for those who never paid the issue any mind. For the most part though, the changes should not prevent social advertisers from being able to leverage user data. The new world just means they will have to collect the data more openly.
Let’s focus on Facebook’s reasoning more specifically and look to how we as advertisers can shift our approaches to ensure we can continue to deliver results for our clients;
1. Giving people transparency and control is good for businesses.
It’s hard to argue with this logic, Facebook itself is a prime example of how a lack of transparency and control can be bad for bottom lines. As advertisers, we should be open-sharing where our data comes from. At the end of the day, targeted ads see better engagement6 – suggesting most users don’t necessarily mind seeing ads for products they are genuinely interested in.
2. We’re showing people how advertisers use our tools.
This does mean more exposure for advertisers, but it is in the same vein as transparency; advertisers who collect data openly and use it to target relevant consumers have nothing to hide in how they use it. This is another change that will likely only hurt the bad actors.
3. This feature may impact targeting.
When someone disconnects his/her off-Facebook activity, advertisers can no longer use the data they clear for targeting. While it is hard to prognosticate how many users will clear this data, it is perhaps the most concerning of all the changes. As it means it will be more difficult to passively track some users, as they now have a means to proactively opt-out.
However, there are still many tried and true means of collecting first-party data. For one, POS and customer loyalty data, which via outside collection (read: not tracked via website behavior), is still fair game, as is any other form of active data collection that consumers may have already opted into. So long as Facebook advertisers have access to this data, we still have a way into the most powerful of Facebook’s audience targeting tools: Lookalikes.
4. Measurement will remain intact.
We can all breathe easy. While we may have to adjust how we collect data, it’s just going to take putting more effort into transparency and outside sources. Facebook is still Facebook, and advertisers we will still be able to track ROAS on our lookalike, conversion, retargeting, and whatever other audiences we can come up with.
Whether we like it or not, the digital age is evolving to be more open and transparent. As advertisers, we share in the responsibility to evolve with the times to ensure we can continue to deliver meaningful results for our clients. Not only for our bottom lines, but most importantly the consumers we collectively serve.
Ready to simplify social advertising, and enable local activation at global scale? Contact Tiger Pistol today.
After earning his Masters in Mass Communications in 2015, Chris Mayer worked at Facebook prior to joining Tiger Pistol as a Project Manager. He specializes in helping digital agencies and national brands build scaled Facebook advertising solutions with an emphasis on local activation. Outside the office, he enjoys, basketball, Formula One, and sharing opinions on film and television.
1NY Times ‘Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: What You Need to Know as Fallout Widens’
2Techcrunch ‘Facebook will cut off access to third party data for ad targeting’
3The Guardian ‘The key moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress’
4Forbes ‘Firefox Takes Aim At Google With A Bunch Of New Security Features’
5TechCrunch ‘What Chromes browsers changes mean for your privacy and security’
6Marketing Land ’10 Steps To Target And Connect With Potential Customers Effectively’