Facebook Advertising Services Bans Employee Targeting

With more than 2 billion users providing rich first party data for B2B marketers, Facebook advertising services is easily the most powerful tool for precise and cost-effective advertising. Unfortunately, this precise advertising doesn’t just target single males in their mid-20’s—but also users with “Jew Hater” as their job title. As a result, the media giant recently banned employer information as an ad targeting option for B2B agencies.

Propublica’s investigative journalism piece in early September revealed that Facebook’s algorithm had “Nazi Party,” “German Schutzstaffel” and “how to burn jews” as targeting categories for employer, education, and field of study. The newsroom used these categories to post an ad for their website, and the ad was “approved by Facebook within 15 minutes.” Following this report, Facebook promptly removed these targeting categories.

How does this impact Facebook Ad Management Services?

For Facebook, this change seems to be temporary. As of September 21st, Facebook reported they would add back 5,000 terms commonly used for employer and job titles (i.e. nurse doctor, lawyer, etc.) that met their community standards. It still calls into question the accuracy and validity of Facebook’s targeting categories. As smart as the platform is about knowing the who, what and the where, this recent report highlights how Facebook’s algorithm fails to differentiate between users who list their actual jobs, and users who substitute in their hobbies or personal values. How effective is targeting education and job title if they are self-reported categories that are not being cross-referenced?  Facebook still far outpaces a B2B platform like LinkedIn when it comes to the sheer amount of targeting options, despite the heat they’ve taken from this report. Ultimately, the benefits of these targeting options and advertising templates, coupled with the organic interactions on Facebook, greatly outweigh the costs for B2B marketers. The impact on the reliability of Facebook’s ad services was fleeting due to the company’s swift response to the problem.

What does this mean for B2B Marketers?

Agencies with clients in the education and recruiting business depend upon this exclusion tactic. This abrupt change forced some to adapt their strategy by bidding on other segments such as company size, industry, or using third party data to compensate for a potential loss in clicks and engagements. Facebook has since updated their advertising policies and instituted teams to manually review targeting options to catch offensive language. Because of Facebook’s swift reconfiguration, Katana has been unaffected by these changes. Regardless, it’s a sharp reminder to B2B brands that the industry changes in a matter of days— so it’s imperative to stay agile.

The changes programmatic media has in store for the next year, even 6 months in the future are endless. Targeting platforms could become faster, more insightful. Media buying could warrant the need for integrated business intelligence to help B2B marketers make smarter buying choices. Katana’s ability to think forward and stay one step ahead of the game is what makes us one of the top 20 agencies and fastest growing companies in all of San Diego.