Hack Your Way Around Facebook’s Partner Category Ban

by | Jul 12, 2018 | Facebook

Facebook Ad AccountsBy now, you’ve probably heard that Facebook is planning on removing Partner Categories from its targeting options. In fact, if you’re a media buyer reading this in the UK, France or Germany, you can no longer access these highly targeted audiences.

Fortunately, all is not lost for everybody just yet.

What are Partner Categories?

Facebook knows a lot about us from our activity on the platform (big surprise)… but it doesn’t know everything. To fill the gaps about what it doesn’t know, and what happens outside of the Facebook platform, they use third-party data mining companies (like Axciom) to connect the dots.

Facebook then matches this third-party data with user profiles, and voilà – highly-targeted behavioral audiences for advertisers. Here’s an example of the Partner Category audiences that are still available to some advertisers:

Facebook Partner Categories

I use these audiences regularly to great effect – especially Highly likely Investors. While they don’t tend to outperform lookalikes of my buyer files, they are still very targeted and relevant audiences that I definitely want to show my ads to.

Needless to say, I want to reach these audiences for as long as possible, and I want you to be able to do the same before they are completely removed.

Why are Partner Categories going away?

This decision to remove Partner Categories comes in the wake of what seems like an ever-growing list of privacy breach scandals, most notably Cambridge Analytica. To an extent, the new GDPR regulations that have brought individual privacy rights into the spotlight also play a role in the decision. The cynic in me says removing Partner Categories is simply an attempt by Facebook to appear as if they value how user data is being used on their platform.

Whatever the motive, there is no doubt that the biggest losers from this decision will be advertisers. Aside from actually losing the ability to target highly relevant audiences, Facebook also uses 3rd party data to model lookalike audiences from. This means the quality and accuracy of our lookalike audiences could be affected once Partner Categories have been removed. While I don’t have evidence to back this up just yet, it is a hot topic at the Agora companies.

Joel Brooker Facebook Question
Natalie's Facebook Response

But all is not lost, at least not yet. Because you still have until August 15th to create new campaigns using Partner Category audiences. After that date, you will no longer see them in your account. However, for those of you who act now, your campaigns will still run on the platform until 1st October 2018. Facebook will then remove the audience from your campaign after that date.

Facebook Detailed Targeting Removal

Here’s a hack to help get you around these changes…

Pair Partner Category audiences with one of Facebook’s own interest audiences that aren’t going anywhere, e.g. pair ‘Highly Likely Investors’ with the interest category, Investment. After the 1st October, the partner category Highly Likely Investors will be removed, but your campaign will still run to anyone who falls within the Investment audience. By which time, the algorithm will have hopefully taken a lot of learnings from the Partner Category audiences.

Just note that if you try this, you won’t be able to edit your ad set after 15th August.

Facebook Highly Likely Investor Target