The Facebook advertising platform is changing again. The latest move sees the social media giant usher in its newest ad classification – Facebook Special Ad Category. Ads that fall under any of these special categories are subject to additional restrictions. The most significant of these involve your audience targeting options.
While in practice, placing a special category ad isn’t too different from placing a normal ad. And it’s possible that many of your ad campaigns won’t fall under any of these categories. However, incorrectly identifying your ads could prevent them from being approved and derail your marketing plans.
What Are The Special Ad Categories?
There are four types of ads that fall under the Special Ad Categories umbrella. They are housing, credit, employment, and social issues & politics. At first glance, you may not think your financial planning ads will fall under any of these categories. But keep in mind that Facebook can be picky at times, and some of these categories are very broadly defined.
Housing and Credit
Most agents and advisors won’t have to worry about these categories. Ads pertaining to credit opportunities include, but are not limited to, “credit card offers, auto loans, personal or business loan services, mortgage loans and long-term financing.” With no mention of financial products, you should be safe to ignore this one.
Housing ads are another category we can overlook. However, any agents whose services include homeowners or mortgage insurance need to be aware of the new policy when crafting their campaigns.
Do you actively recruit new agents to join your team? Are you hiring a new administrative assistant or office manager? If you’re using Facebook to push out your help wanted ads, the new policy will definitely affect you.
According to Facebook, employment ads are defined as “ads that promote or directly link to an employment opportunity, including but not limited to part- or full-time jobs, internships or professional certification programs. Related ads that fall within this category include promotions for job boards or fairs, aggregation services or ads detailing perks a company may provide, regardless of a specific job offer.”
Social Issues & Politics
This is the broadest and most ambiguously defined special ad category. We can overlook the politics aspect of this category, as those pertain almost exclusively to political candidates. Social issues, however, are a little trickier.
On paper, these are defined as “sensitive topics that are heavily debated, may influence the outcome of an election or result in/relate to existing or proposed legislation. Ads about social issues seek to influence public opinion through discussion, debate or advocacy for or against important topics, like health and civil and social rights.”
The list of social issue topics is pretty much what you might expect. Civil rights, crime, and environment, to name a few. There are a handful of topics on this list that agents and advisors should be aware of – economy, education, and health.
On the surface, it might seem like a stretch to think that your ads about financial planning or life insurance would fall under any of these categories. But Facebook has been vague about the finer points of each of these categories. For example, ads about solar panels have been flagged for not going through the special ad category process.
Do your services include college tuition planning? Long-term care or health insurance? Are you running a campaign based around tax season? If so, it’s possible you will need to identify your ad under the special categories umbrella.
If your ad does meet the requirements for a special ad category, your ability to hyper-focus on a specific target audience will be limited. The new policy aims to prevent discrimination based on certain personal characteristics. This means you will be hitting a much broader pool of consumers, including many who might not find your ads relevant.
Targeting options for ads that meet the special categories requirement include:
- Location: Zip codes are not an option when targeting based on geographic location. Instead, any specific locations you select (be it a city or specific address) will reach everyone within a 15-mile radius.
- Age & Gender: Targeting based on age and gender is not an option for special category ads. All of these ads must reach both men and women, ages 18 – 65+
- Detailed and Interest Targeting: Special category ads still allow for some detailed targeting based on user interest. However, many of the options you can choose from when running normal ads are not available here. You also cannot exclude any demographics from seeing your ads.
Will This Affect My Ad Campaigns?
For many of you, the answer is “probably not.” As mentioned above, there are only a handful of circumstances that could see your ads check the boxes for a special ad category. That said, this is something all business owners need to be aware of. For one, if you run across any issues getting your ads approved, this new policy could be the reason why. Also, keep in mind that Facebook is constantly changing the rules with their advertising platform and it’s not unreasonable to think that these categories could one day expand.
For those of you who have been or will be affected by this change, and will be advertising to a broader, less-targeted audience as a result, remember the golden rule about marketing – content is king.
Having your ads seen by a much bigger audience is not always a good thing. Especially when it comes to niche services like financial planning. The number of eyes that will pass over your ad without a second thought can seem frustrating. The trick is to create content that grabs the attention of those who you do want to reach.
Find out how IAMS can boost your presence on social media and elsewhere by watching our “IAMS Creative Services Experience” webinar.