As a dealer, you need to know that the way you advertise on Facebook is about to change.

On Wednesday evening, March 28, Facebook made this brief announcement:

“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”1

How Facebook’s Latest Announcement Will Impact Your Ad Targeting Click To Tweet

This means that the highly targeted Facebook advertising you’ve been relying on to bring in new customers and reach in-market shoppers “where they’re at” is coming to an end.

Why This is Happening

Facebook is in trouble.

The social network is under scrutiny from governments around the world regarding the network’s privacy policies and practices.2

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s famous CEO, will be testifying before Congress in a few short weeks about a “data breach” that involved the information from roughly 50 million Facebook users.

A third party, Cambridge Analytica reportedly accessed the information of millions of Facebook users, without those users’ knowledge or permission.

Facebook argues that it was not breached, but that Cambridge Analytica did violate their terms of service.

Because of this, Facebook is making some big changes like updating their terms of service, suspending Cambridge Analytica, and cutting third party providers from offering their targeting directly on Facebook. Unfortunately, Oracle, who partnered with IHS Polk is one of the third party provides that had access cut.

What this Means

Advertisers are still allowed to collect data from Facebook (which they collect from user activity and profiles) and they’re still allowed to use their own data (like customer names, emails, website activity, etc.).

Unfortunately, the highly targeted and extremely relevant ads created through valuable consumer insights from Oracle and IHS Polk are no longer an option.

The problem is, this is what was so incredible about Facebook! Their network is perfect for the extraction of data and that’s a huge reason why Facebook ads were so appealing. Plus, this is what Facebook advertised about themselves. They wanted advertisers to know that they could target individuals outside of their database with detailed information that directly related to that individual – these highly targeted ads are what Facebook is all about.

Now, Facebook is going to have to rebrand. They’re going to have to find a way to appeal to advertisers and individuals alike and they’re going to have to find a way to make money without working with third party data providers.

What This Means for Dealers

Dealers are now faced with a dilemma.

The good news is that everyone is facing this same dilemma. The bad news is that this is not going to be an easy transition.

But don’t jump ship just yet – Facebook is still a viable advertising platform.

Facebook has 1.32 billion daily active users (even more monthly active users) and is the most widely used social platform.3 The average user spends around 35 minutes per day on the site.4

Seventy-nine percent of Americans use Facebook and over 50 percent use Facebook multiple times per day.

You might not be able to reach the same audience as before, but the data shows that Facebook is still a key marketing platform – you just need to make some changes to the current process.

If you’re working with an advertising agency, your first step is to make sure you’re not paying for something that the agency can’t actually offer!

But don’t panic – Facebook has said that this change will happen gradually over the course of about six months, so you and your agency have time to figure out an alternative plan.5

Additionally, Oracle released this statement

What Dealers Should Do

There are still some incredibly useful advertising capabilities that are allowed and encouraged on Facebook – some of which are still highly targeted and incredibly effective.

This is what you need to focus on in the coming months.

Utilize Your DMS

You can still use your own data to reach your customers and even conquest customers.

By creating a customer match audience from your DMS data, you can advertise to customers in your DMS who are on Facebook. Or, if you would like to conquest, you have the ability to negatively match against this audience.

Similarly, you can create a “lookalike audience” from your customer match audience. This means you can reach Facebook users who act similarly to your customers. Lookalike audiences are great for increasing your brand awareness among customers who have expressed similar online actions to your known audience.

This is highly effective and delivers results – without compromising Facebook’s new terms of service.

VIN Specific Facebook Remarketing

Just as Amazon faithfully follows their customers around with items they’ve previously viewed – you know the ads – Facebook allows you to advertise to shoppers with the exact vehicles they’ve previously viewed on your website.

While you can no longer use third-party data to target in-market customers, you can target customers who have revealed that they’re in market! When they view a vehicle on your website, you know they’re in the market and you know what they’re looking for.

This takes remarketing to a whole new level. These shoppers have already shown an interest in what you offer and, by remarketing to them on Facebook, you’re simply reminding them of that! With the latest change, this is the most specific messaging you can use to advertise on Facebook.

These ads are the most contextually relevant to the user, which results in: higher clickthrough rates, higher conversion rates, and better engagement once they make their way back to your website.

This is an excellent tool for driving customers back to your website, as they’re making their way through the online shopping process.

In a world where highly personalized, targeted, relevant, and timely advertising is the name of the game, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Audience Interest Marketing

Finally, you can still pull data from Facebook. You can market to audiences that have expressed specific interests on Facebook.

Perhaps a Facebook user has shown an interest in your OEM or a specific model of vehicle you sell. Maybe you choose to broaden your reach and market crossovers to people with children who are interested in outdoor activities.

There’s a plethora of information available for advertisers who know what to look for and how to use that data. It’s just a matter of choosing how specific you want to be with your advertisements.

Stay on the Alert

The world of marketing is constantly evolving, and this type of change is to be expected. That said, the change could hurt marketers and, by proxy, dealers like you.

As we’ve discussed there are many reasons to continue advertising on Facebook and a few simple ways to work through the current change, but I encourage you to stay on the alert.

All of this is currently limited to Facebook and advertising platforms like Google and Twitter still offer third party targeting tools, but that could change very quickly.

Facebook intends to turn this disadvantage into an advantage by challenging their competitors to higher privacy for their consumers’ information.6 If their strategy works, you may be seeing this change occur across all social marketing platforms.