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Date added: 23 December 2021

Update: 17 June 2024

How to get around Facebook special ad categories?

If you create campaigns in the Facebook Ads Manager, you have probably noticed a lot of changes recently. One of them is the ability to declare new special ad categories. At first, these categories included political and social topics. Today, this scope is significantly expanded. What industries are affected by these changes? And what is actually changing? Let's check it out!

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  1. New changes on Facebook – good news for users
  2. Special ad categories: restricted industries & topic
  3. Facebook against discrimination
  4. New restrictions, new challenges
  5. How can you choose a special ad category in the Facebook Ads Manager?
  6. Special ad categories vs. marketing goals

New changes on Facebook – good news for users

Mark Zuckerberg, as the main founder of Facebook, has faced allegations of discrimination many times. One of the high-profile complaints was about advertised job offers targeting only men. Bobbi Spees, one of the women who opposed such actions on Facebook, admitted that it was gender discrimination: “I shouldn’t be excluded from hearing about employment opportunities just because I am a woman”, she said that time.

We also heard about the "serious breach of Facebook's rules" in the case of Cambridge Analytica's actions, which could obtain the private data of millions of Facebook users illegally.

Facebook didn’t remain indifferent and assured that it was working on solutions to ensure the safety of its users. And so, among other things, special ad categories were created.

Special ad categories: restricted industries & topic

First, the restrictions were on social issues, elections, or politics. Today, special ad categories include advertisers from the following industries:

source: Facebook Ads Manager

1# Special category: credit. Advertisers must declare a special category of advertising in the ad when presenting credit offers: credit cards, mortgages or refinancing. It also applies to personal, business, or car loan service ads.

2# Special category: employment. After hearing about so many cases of age and gender discrimination, more restrictions are being imposed on companies who promote jobs. These restrictions apply to both part-time and full-time jobs, as well as internships and certificate programs. Even ads that list the benefits of working at a particular company won't be immune from scrutiny.

#3 Special category: real estate. Restrictions include the following: the offers to sell or rent a house or apartment, property insurance, mortgage insurance, mortgage loans, property renovation, and real estate appraisal and appraisals.

#4 Special category: social topics, elections or politics, including political advertising, ads created by, on behalf of, or about a candidate for public office, politician, political party, or advocate influencing the outcome of an election for public office. Special restrictions also apply to advertising related to elections or referendums or voting initiatives. In addition, Facebook pays particular attention to ads on sensitive social topics. In case of this category, identity proof is required.

Facebook's representatives point out that this list may be extended to other industries in the future.

Facebook against discrimination

Facebook created these categories to help enforce its policy against discriminatory advertising practices and to prevent discrimination based on demographic characteristics such as age and gender. According to Facebook, these three types of advertising were chosen because of their long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, credit and employment. Platform representatives emphasize the importance of equal opportunities in finding employment, a place to live and credit offers.

New restrictions, new challenges

If your ad is classified under this classification, Facebook will restrict your audience targeting options and prevent you from creating an audience based on age, gender, or zip code.

Specific targeting restrictions mean that you won't be able to exclude certain audiences from seeing your ad, and won't be able to target based on demographics or behavior and certain interests. In this case, you also cannot create custom lookalike audiences. However, Facebook made it possible to create a target group for an ad of a specific category. This is an audience whose online behavior is similar to your existing customers, without being matched by demographics.

source: Facebook Ads Manager

In addition to these audience targeting restrictions, category-specific ads are just like any other Facebook promotion.

How can you choose a special ad category in the Facebook Ads Manager?

It only takes a few steps to do this. First, you need to go to Ad Manager and click "create" just like you do with any standard Facebook ad. From the very first screen, you will be asked to check if your ad belongs to the special category of Facebook ads and if so, to select the type of ad.

source: Facebook Ads Manager

At this point, the rest of your campaign creation is the same as for standard ads, until you move on to audience targeting. You will then find out that you can't select demographic targeting options, including age, gender, and zip code. You can still target your ads based on your interests by selecting "detailed targeting". However, in some cases, interest targeting is also limited.

source: Facebook Ads Manager

Once you've selected your audience, the ad creation process continues as normal. You choose ad placements, budget and schedule with no further restrictions.

To comply with Facebook's advertising policies, each ad declared as a special ad category must go through this process during ad creation and verification. However, Facebook automatically blocks disallowed targeting options, so it becomes easier and more intuitive.

source: Facebook Ads Manager

Special ad categories vs. marketing goals

The new restrictions may seem to be a barrier and make it difficult to reach the most desirable audience. However, this is not the first (and certainly not the last!) revolution on Facebook that ads specialists on this platform are facing. Well, we don't want to lie, this update hasn't made our lives easier, but we can see that with the right solutions, special category ads can be just as effective as before.

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