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Facebook’s Special Ad Category in Ads Manager

Facebook announced on Monday it is now requiring all U.S.-based housing, employment and credit advertisers to select the “Special Ad Category” option in Ads Manager when creating ads. This feature restricts ad targeting options — removing the ability to target ads by age, gender, zip code, multicultural affinity or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics — to prevent advertisers from running discriminatory ad campaigns.

The “Special Ad Category” process also prohibits advertisers from using Facebook’s Lookalike Audience ad feature.

“Instead, advertisers will be able to create a Special Ad Audience, an audience based on similarities in online behavior without considering things like age, gender or zip code,” wrote Facebook on the Facebook Business blog.

Why we should care

Any marketers managing ad campaigns for housing, employment or credit products and services need to begin using the Special Ad Category option in the Ads Manager or run the risk of their ads being stopped. Facebook said it will review ads mostly via an automated process, but supported by human reviews: “Mistakes will happen, but we continue to improve the ads we review.”

Advertisers running housing, employment or credit ads who have used Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences in the past will now have to create new “Special Ad Audience” lists based on the new restrictions.

Facebook’s efforts to remove ad targeting options for housing, employment and credit advertisers are the result of a settlement the company reached with civil rights groups earlier this year who charged Facebook with allowing discriminatory ads on its platform. Facebook first began rolling out the restrictions in March, and last week, reported it was adding the “Special Ads Category” to its Marketing API.

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More on the news

  • The new Special Ad Category applies to both housing, employment and credit advertisers based in the U.S. and those wanting to reach U.S. Facebook users.
  • Facebook plans to extend these new restrictions to all of its other ad-buying systems by the end of this year.
  • For advertisers using the Special Ad Category via Facebook’s Marketing API, the option will not be available until September 16.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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