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Understanding Facebook’s Special Ad Categories

Created On: October 18, 2019

If you’ve set up an ad to run on Facebook recently, you might have noticed the “Special Ad Category” feature. In a bid to be more inclusive, Facebook has decided to remove certain targeting abilities when your ad pertains to employment, housing, or credit opportunities. If you promote any of these topics, learn how this new feature can impact who sees your content. 



Why Did Facebook Remove Targeting Functions From Certain Categories? 

Facebook identified that certain targeting functions were making it possible for advertisers to exclude specific groups from seeing ads that offer opportunities for them to move forward in life. Before this update, advertisers were unable to target based on certain protected classes, such as race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Now, they’ve removed the ability of housing, employment, and credit advertisers to target audiences by gender, age, job title, and zip code, as well as by specific demographic and behavioral information. Facebook also removed the look-alike audience function from ads of this category. 


How to Maximize Your Results Within Facebook’s Restrictions

When you’re creating your financial, residential, or employment ad, you need to select the “Special Ad Category” button. If you don’t do this and continue as you normally would, Facebook will prevent your ad from running. The first step you should take before running ads is separating them into groups. Keep the ads that focus on one of these special topics in their own campaign, and separate them from your other ad groups. This will keep the reduced targeting ability concentrated on the content that requires it. 


Once you’ve separated your campaigns, you need to consider which characteristics you should target for each ad. If your ad is location-based, you can still target general areas, just not something as specific as a zip code. You’ll need to set at least a 15-mile radius around a pin drop location, so think about what geographic areas are most likely to have your desired audience. You can also look outside of Facebook for third-party data that can make your targeting more effective. For example, you can find specific behavioral trends shared by people of a certain profession and use those to target your desired audience.  


As we continue to test different methods for optimizing Facebook ads, we‘ll be researching how these results compare to those from look-alike audiences, and we encourage you to do the same. As with any update, it just takes a little trial and error and a lot of innovative thinking. If you’ve found success in advertising within the special ad category, we’d love to hear how! Share your tips and tricks in the comments. 


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Facebook Newsroom | Doing More to Protect Against Discrimination in Housing, Employment and Credit Advertising

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