By Maddy Coast
As the digital marketing world continues to adapt to a cookies-less future, new strategies are being deployed to maintain the results that were once had in ‘the good ‘ol days’. Back in 2018, Facebook (now the Meta suite of platforms- that’s how fast times are changing!) was under major fire for data misuse in what’s known as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As a result, they removed the availability of third-party data from their targeting capabilities. This meant that the information they were getting from outside data partners, say Experian, was no longer available as a targeting option when launching a campaign. In this example, Experian previously provided categories to Meta like “people with a credit score of 650 or higher” so that advertisers could better reach users based on financial information, previous purchase data (oftentimes provided by credit card companies), and other digital behaviors and interests.
What was left for targeted campaigns was first-party data, or what Meta’s advertising algorithm tracks from their users on the platform and by tracking codes provided by Meta, called Pixels. While this targeting (often referred to as native targeting because it’s native to the platform) is still valuable, marketers lost out on enriched audiences that were highly targeted and highly relevant. In the coming months, Meta would also update the platform for ads related to credit/financial opportunities, employment, or housing to prevent discrimination from advertisers. In these protected categories, called “Special Ads Categories” Meta doesn’t allow advertisers to select ages, gender, zip codes (geo targeting has to be 15-mile radius or more) and limits the native targeting options available to a pre-selected list of narrow options. While these changes are positive in that they protect equal-opportunity legislation, campaign performance can be compromised and advertisers have to work harder to make their messaging even more attractive to the end-user in mind. You can see how these platform updates create major constraints for advertisers.
While it’s possible to run a successful ad campaign with native targeting, Special Ad Category limitations, and effects on Apple’s iOS 14 changes, native targeting can be considered a weak audience source. Say for instance a user is part of a luxury cars group on Facebook and commonly interacts with posts and pages on this topic. This would signal to Facebook that the user falls into “Luxury Vehicles” targeting based on their first-party interactions, however they may not necessarily be a luxury vehicle owner and an advertiser trying to sell a luxury detailing service wouldn’t benefit from using this targeting, since it’s merely aspirational.
Because we felt such a gap in campaign performance after these changes, C Squared Social set out to find a way to use the same data provided to Facebook once upon a time to help strengthen our campaigns and give them the absolute best shot at success. What we ultimately found was that we could work directly with the data providers and plug their audience sets in as “Custom Audiences” for Meta to match to real users on the platform. In this work-around solution, campaigns are leveled up so to speak with audience data straight from the source – we can target people based on the actions they’re taking directly with the third party data providers. Providers include Mastercard, LiveNation, Visa, Experian, Oracle, and any data partners that live within the LiveRamp Directory meaning the opportunities are endless. With new data partners being sourced and added into our repertoire every day, we can find an audience solution for every campaign under the sun. Audiences could be demographic based llike “Females 25-54”, purchased based like “Smoking Cessation Buyer”, and even sourced by llife events like divorce, or recent home purchase. With a robust library of data partners covering anything from consumer packaged goods to financial industries, and everything in between, third party data is sure to offer high quality audiences backed by real data that will greatly impact a campaign.