After initially announcing its coming changes to its ad targeting options for housing, credit and employment ads back in March last year, then re-iterating those updates and requirements in December, Facebook has this week set two definitive deadlines for advertisers to comply with its new requirements, particularly related to those utilizing Facebook’s Marketing API – i.e. those buying Facebook ads through third-party platforms and tools.

To recap, Facebook’s new ‘Special Ad Category’ changes, which came about as the result of agreements with leading civil rights organizations, in response to concerns about Facebook’s ad targeting tools, will mean that:

  • Any advertiser looking to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code
  • Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a limited set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns, while multicultural affinity targeting will be unavailable for these ads. “Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable”.
  • All housing, employment and credit opportunity ads which have been approved will also be added to Facebook’s Ad Archive, providing full transparency over such promotions.

​To enforce these new rules, Facebook will now require that all advertisers, developers and partners specify whether or not their ads offer housing, employment or credit opportunities.

“They can do so by selecting a Special Ad Category and, once a category is selected in Ads Manager or via the Marketing API, a limited set of targeting options will be available.”

Facebook set the requirement that all advertisers running ads in these categories identified any active campaigns before December 4th, 2019. Now, The Social Network has implemented two new deadlines for the last stages of the integration.

Facebook Special Category Ads

The key deadline here is March 31st, by which time:

  • All businesses – located in the U.S. or targeting audiences in the U.S. – creating new ads offering housing, employment or credit opportunities must specify a Special Ad Category and update targeting settings to comply with restrictions for Special Ad Category campaigns, or these ads will no longer be allowed to run.
  • All businesses creating ads that do not offer housing, employment or credit opportunities must indicate “None” in the Special Ad Category field for all campaigns, or these ads will no longer be allowed to run.
  • All businesses creating ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities targeted outside of the U.S. can choose to select a Special Ad Category and proceed with the limited targeting options, or select “None.” If no designation is made, these ads will no longer be allowed to run.

​All Facebook advertisers in the US, or who are targeting the US, need to be aware of these deadlines, and ensure compliance. If you’re not sure, it’s worth clarifying with your Facebook ads partner, or reading the documentation yourself – you can read more info on the Facebook Developer blog.

This is an important, and significant change for Facebook, and it will have a range of impacts. Those who fail to comply will not be able to run ads, so its worth taking a moment to understand the change, and how it may impact your process.