What Facebook’s Second Wave of Data Privacy Tools Mean for Advertisers

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, Facebook continuously strives to showcase their dedication and commitment to giving users more control and transparency over data that is shared with the social media platform. Shortly before the F8 Conference in Spring 2018, Facebook announced a new ‘Clear History’ feature that would give users control of their data, allowing them to disconnect the information third-party websites and apps share with Facebook.

Fast forward to August 2019, Facebook finally rolled out the ‘Clear History’ feature, now known as the ‘Off-Facebook Activity Tool’. This tool will show users a summary of the apps and websites that have shared their user data with Facebook, and gives users the opportunity to control what information, if any, is shared with these websites. According to Facebook, they “won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.” There is one caveat – even though Facebook will allow users to decide what they share, it will not prevent Facebook from collecting or storing the information. Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan describes the functionality and use case best:

“Imagine a clothing website wants to show ads to people who are interested in a new style of shoes. They can send Facebook information saying someone on a particular device looked at those shoes. If that device information matches someone’s Facebook account, we can show ads about those shoes to that person.”

Image source: Facebook Newsroom

With the new tool, users will have three options to clear or restrict specific information from their accounts:

  1. Summary view of the data apps and websites have chosen to send to Facebook
  2. Disconnect this information from your account
  3. Disconnect future off-Facebook activity from your account. This will be available for all of a user’s off-Facebook activity or just specific websites/apps.

This update will give users more visibility into what is happening with their data but will likely impact the way this data is aggregated. As advertisers, it’s important for us to understand how to prepare for the impact, as well as keep these updates top of mind as we head into the second half of the year.

  1. As mentioned, this will impact the data available to advertisers. If a user decides to disconnect their off-Facebook activity, the data from those sites won’t be used for targeting. Facebook’s pixel or custom audiences built from website visitors or custom lists won’t be available to reach users with ads.
  2. Facebook’s measurement and reporting tools will continue to provide the same level of data, as it was built to protect a user’s identity. They do not anticipate any changes will come for the data analytics tools.
  3. Targeting basics are still available, and they really work! While some targeting parameters were removed in October 2018, demographic, behavior and interest targeting is still an easy way to make sure your ads are being seen by people that fit in your target audience.
  4. Continue to connect, not only in person but on Facebook too! Targeting those connected to your Facebook Page will keep your Page Fans engaged with your content.

Facebook says they will continue to find ways to improve the level of transparency for users and their profiles. Change is hard, especially when it comes to new features or policies and ensuring that you are ready for the downstream effects of how these changes will impact your advertising ability.

Note: Facebook has made this tool available to people in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain and will continue to roll out to everyone throughout the end of the year.

Here at Tiger Pistol, we live and breathe Facebook Advertising. Keep up-to-date on the latest social advertising news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Reinventing Advertising in the Age of Privacy

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’

Facebook Announces New Features to Get You Even Closer to Your Customers

Last week, we attended Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference, a future-focused event for developers that revealed new innovations to Facebook’s platform. These Platform and API enhancements will not only make commerce even easier for users on Facebook’s platform, but enable better attribution and tracking of return on advertising spend.

Facebook downplayed its “Town Square” style of community building from News Feed, with a lot more time spent on their efforts to build smaller community connections (Groups) and secure 1:1 communication (Messenger & WhatsApp). With this new focus on more intimate connections, there is an opportunity for businesses and advertisers to participate, particularly with innovations happening in Facebook’s messaging apps. Messenger in particular has had a complete technical overhaul, with the Messenger App start time being improved to become among the fastest of any comparative messaging application and the overall size of the app being reduced to under 30 MB.

The company also revealed that they’re focused on enabling commerce via messaging platforms, including the ability to send payments and book appointments via the Messenger API. For Instagram and retailer connections, Facebook announced an innovative way for consumers to discover new brands via Creators (known as Influencers on other ad platforms), allowing them to advertise products directly in the images of their posts using “Shopping Tags.” Consumers can click to buy tagged items seamlessly and without leaving the platform

All of these new offerings work to build a greater connection between humans and their technology, which means reaching customers and prospects on an even more personal level. The challenge is scaling these new offerings across locations or clients as a multi-location brand, value-added reseller or agency. Learn how Tiger Pistol turns complexity into simplicity, efficiently empowering you to build success with local activation at scale.

Matt Matthias is Director of Business Operations for Tiger Pistol. Sean Carroll is Product Manager for Tiger Pistol.