No Partner Categories Targeting for Facebook Ad Post Cambridge Analytica Incident


So something was about to come and it came so early from Facebook! The recent announcement came from Facebook that they are now shutting down the ‘Partner Categories’ to target the ads. It means the advertisers can now not use Partner Categories Targeting in coming next 6 months time period.

The feature of targeting audience through partner categories was launched in 2013 when Facebook partnered some major data brokers. Facebook News report said:

“Through new partnerships with top online and offline purchase data providers Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai, Facebook is now allowing advertisers to target hashed lists of existing and potential customers, and categories like role-playing gamers or soda drinkers.”

So What is ‘Partner Categories’?

Simply putting, these categories include the data which is given by major data mining companies to Facebook. These companies curate the data of the users to learn their activities, interests and behaviours away from Facebook that can be used by the advertisers in Ad targeting. So basically Facebook leverage the pool of data in 3 ways:

  1. The data it collects from the users on the basis of their Facebook usage habit (e.g. pages they like and content they engagee to)
  2. Information from the advertisers (e.g membership status in the loyalty program)
  3. Data obtained from third party providers (that is the partner categories)

Out of these 3 ways, Facebook feels comfortable with the first two but now not with the third one. So it will still continue to use the data from the first two ways but will stop using the data from the major data mining companies to target with Facebook ads.

In 2013, Facebook was working on its algorithm changes and making a shift from organic results to paid results. To provide the better-paid results to the advertisers on Facebook, it had to use the data provided by the major data mining companies. So these companies were collecting the data of the users away from Facebook and Facebook was giving this data to the advertisers who could target those people with their Facebook ads.

For example, If a car dealer wants to target people with the ad on Facebook to those who own a particular car model, he can use the Partner categories data available in the ‘Detailed Targeting‘ opting in the Ad campaign. For example:

Partner Categories Targeting

There are many such partner categories but not available in all countries.  There are 7 such countries are where the facility of the targeting is available i.e. Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, UK, and the USA. The some of the partner categories included are:

  • Automotive shoppers
  • Business Travellers
  • Company size
  • Charitable donations
  • Credit union members
  • Corporate executives

So, when you surf any pages on websites other than Facebook or you do any actions on those websites then these companies collect your information and then pass to Facebook. Facebook matches these data with your profile and advertisers target you based on the activities you have performed.

What is the reason for removal of Partner Categories Targeting?

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, there was so much pressure on Facebook to come out with some solution of data breaching. Facebook took important decisions including cracking down app approval and improving the privacy controls.

One can still use the Partner categories for coming 6 months to target the audience with ads but after that, the category will be removed. The Facebook marketing is going see many such updates in coming few months as Facebook has a bigger challenge to win the trust of the users and advertisers both.



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Bhautik Sheth
Bhautik is the founder of iVIPANAN Digital Marketing Services. He is a digital marketing trainer and practitioner. He has trained many people for digital marketing and he provides his expert consultation to many organizations. He loves fun and he always motivates his team members to do their best.

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