Six months on, how Facebook’s new targeting restriction’s are working.

July 15, 2022

Six months on, how Facebook’s new targeting restriction’s are working.

Earlier this year, we outlined how Facebook’s new targeting restrictions could affect the ability to find customers in Ads Manager. Six months on, how are the new restrictions working, and how can advertisers now find their audience?

What targeting has been removed?

In midwinter 2022, Facebook removed the ability to target users by anything that could be interpreted as sensitive, including:

  • Religion
  • Health
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Political affiliation
  • Sexual orientation

This has made targeting users during religious festivals, or for political and social campaigns, much trickier than it used to be.

What options are available?

Broad targeting, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are still available, although the last two rely on having a good database of customers ready to upload to Audiences.

Facebook has also introduced Advantage Lookalike, where adverts may be shown to more people than the standard 1-10% threshold if it is likely to improve performance.

How can advertisers target users?

Here are some of the techniques we’ve been using to replace interest targeting: 

  • Location targeting. target by location to try to narrow down your audience. If your adverts are aimed primarily at Catholics, for instance, target locations where Catholics make up a good proportion of the population. A quick Google search can provide this information. Similarly, if you are running ads for Pride month, it makes sense to target cities hosting Pride events, particularly around the time that those events are running.
  • Icons and popular entertainment. While many targeting options have been removed, celebrities, artists and entertainment choices remain in place. If you can find a way to use broad brush strokes then you can identify an audience by its affiliations. The films of John Waters, or Arabic Pop Music, or the satire of Jon Stewart – all are more likely to be enjoyed by sections of the population you are otherwise unable to target.
  • Combination targeting. While specific targeting may be off the table – women’s rights, for instance, or feminism – you can use combination targeting to get as close to the interest as possible. Let’s say you wanted to run pro-choice adverts. Targeting users interested in Planned Parenthood or Women’s Health is no longer possible. But if you target women in Democrat-leaning states, or in locations where abortion is set to stay available, and then combine that with an interest in human rights, pregnancy and feminist icons like Simone de Beauvoir, then you might get close to targeting exactly who you want.

There is no doubt that Facebook’s new targeting restrictions have made it harder to specify an audience, particularly if you are running a religious, political or social campaign. Facebook is always refreshing the way it works, although these changes look set to stay. However, with a bit of creativity or a good customer database, it is still possible to find an audience who will engage with your campaign.


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