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If you’ve been following the news at all in the past year, then you’d know that it’s been a bit of a doozy for Facebook. As one article writes, “Two of the most important events in 2018 in terms of online data use include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect on May 25, and the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which hit the New York Times and The Guardian headlines on March 17.”

While GDPR was initially introduced back in 2016, it was not enforceable until this year.

However, it has completely changed the way companies are allowed to handle online data from European residents. Meanwhile, the Cambridge Analytica scandal had everyone rocked. To sum it up briefly, what essentially happened was a “third-party political data firm…gained access to the private information to over 50 million Facebook users.” From there, the data was used to influence behavior.

So, with everything that has happened, it’s no surprise that changes have been made to Facebook in the last few months – specifically as it relates to digital advertising services. But we’re here to tell you not to fret and we’re sharing a few tips on how to navigate the “new” Facebook, especially as a small or medium-sized business.

Say Goodbye to Partner Categories

The first change Facebook has made is the removal of Partner Categories. Before, firms such as Acxion, Experian, and Cambridge Analytics were able to target users’ behavior offline. As creepy and intrusive as it may seem, this is actually a normal behavior for digital marketers, whether you like it or not. One site says, “In addition to large purchases, they [digital marketers] also know what offline and online stores you have visited, your political or religious affiliation (despite whether you’ve disclosed this on Facebook), income and socioeconomic status, and much more.”

It is still up in the air whether Facebook will bring this feature back, but at the end of the day, there is a lesson to be learned here – people want to know what they are sharing, which is the basis of GDPR. For now, if you’d like to obtain targeted information, you’ll have to go directly to the data brokers themselves, which is a bit more expensive, but worth it at the end of the day if it aligns with your strategy.

Facebook Pixel Use Consent

If you’ve visited a website in the last few months, you may have noticed a cookie banner pop up immediately asking for your consent to track your activity on the site – this is because of GDPR. Facebook’s Pixel code works in somewhat the same way.  It “is code that you can place on your site that helps Facebook collect information about your website visitors, so that you can use it to target them later using Facebook Ads.”

The reason it is important to keep Facebook Pixel code in mind is because the United States could follow in suit with the EU when it comes to GDPR. Essentially, it is a precautionary measure. And if a company as big as Facebook is doing it, it’s not a bad idea to do the same just to avoid trouble in the future even if you don’t have EU customers.

Changes to Custom Audiences

One of the wonderful features of Facebook ads is that ability to upload your own email addresses that can be specifically targeted. Additionally, the ability to create “lookalike” audiences that are similar to your existing list is also an option. However, Facebook is now requiring “advertisers to receive prior consent from the individuals on your email list before you’re allowed to use them as a Custom Audience.” So, no more using emails from LinkedIn, ones you’ve collected off business cards, and so on unless you are given explicit permission.

While these changes definitely put a damper in our ability as marketers to reach customers and track information as well, there is an overarching lesson here – to be more transparent. People appreciate honesty and it goes a long way. Being upfront with your customers, partnering with marketing firms that can help you make more sense of and navigate these confusing changes, and even hiring a lawyer to protect and handle user data are all great ideas moving forward.

At RenderTribe, our RenderLab process helps you identify the unique pieces that fit in your overall marketing strategy and align your plan with overall business objectives. We help build the foundation for measurement, expertise, and the tactical execution needed to support the plan.

Let us help you grow your bottom line. Contact us today.

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