Why Facebook’s limits on teen targeting are all part of its algorithmic ad playbook

Digiday 04 Aug 2021 04:01
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August 4, 2021 by Kate Kaye

When Facebook announced late last month it would soon end targeting to people under 18 years old based on their interests or activity on other apps and sites, the company said the move was in response to demands from youth advocates and represented “a more precautionary approach” to advertising aimed at young people. But agency execs who eat, sleep and breathe Facebook advertising say the company’s automated ad targeting algorithm could continue doing a good — possibly even better — job of targeting ads to teens whom the platform deems likely to respond to their ads.

Indeed, the agency execs say Facebook has encouraged advertisers to ditch the old way of setting targeting parameters for Facebook and Instagram and instead pushed a different approach: leaving it up to Facebook’s seemingly omniscient targeting algorithm to take the reins.

“Advertisers can probably still be profitable in reaching people under 18 simply by setting a broad age and gender audience target and feeding Facebook the conversion data that enables its algorithm to decide who to reach with ads,” said Ty Martin, founder of Audience Kitchen, which helps advertisers uncover targetable audiences on Facebook and Instagram. “Most advertisers are treating Facebook and Instagram pretty much the same and letting Facebook do the work of allocating the budget between those, serving the creative format that performs the best,” he said.

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