In the wake of the backlash that Facebook has been facing after millions of users personal information was leaked, the company has decided to cut off access to third-party data providers. Ad-targeting based on consumer data provided by third-parties allowed advertisers on Facebook to target consumers based on very personal, deep insights. This was made possible through a feature called Partner Categories, where Facebook partnered with external consumer data providers. Now, however, Facebook has ended this feature after details came out of Cambridge Analytica, also a third-party data provider, exploiting private user information. The company also announced that this was a part of their larger efforts to improve security and integrity of the platform for users.
For advertisers, this move means that they will have to re-think their targeting strategies on Facebook. While they might not be able to rely on consumer insights provided by external agencies, they can continue using the Custom Audience tool on Facebook. The Custom Audience tool will not be affected by Facebook’s new policy because the data used is owned by the advertisers themselves. Facebook also uses third-party data providers for advanced social media analytics and will continue to do so. However, they have announced that they will be reviewing the integrity of these external agencies before going forward.
The company has insisted that removing the Partner Categories feature will not put Facebook at a disadvantage in the competition between its rivals like Google. Instead, they believe that it will prove their commitment to protecting consumer data and placing privacy of their users above all else. With the growing number of Indians joining Facebook, it is very likely that the platform will continue to be one of the most important ways for brands to engage with India’s next billion internet users.
Facebook expects that their new policy will come into effect gradually over the next few months. This gives digital marketers an opportunity to rethink and refine their ad targeting strategies.