Top Facebook Changes in Plain English (GDPR and More)


23 May Top Facebook Changes in Plain English (GDPR and More)

Fake News, Cambridge Analytica scandal, GDPR rollout… These are just a few of the “hiccups” Facebook has experienced in the last year.

As a result, Facebook is making a number of swift changes. These changes will impact marketers all over the world.

If you use Facebook for Marketing, read this article to learn about top changes explained in plain English.

Removal of Partners Categories

Facebook is shutting down approximately 1/2 of its 1200 targeting categories from the 3rd party data providers.  These categories allowed marketers to refine their campaigns with granular offline behavioral and demographic information.

Examples of these categories include:

  • Automotive shoppers (e.g. users in the market for new cars or car owners)
  • Retail purchase behavior (e.g. top spenders)
  • Homeownership status (e.g. likely to move)
  • Company size and Corporate executive status
  • Travel habits (e.g. business travelers)

While you may have to change how you structure your campaigns, there are still plenty of targeting categories coming directly from Facebook. Define your targeting using Facebook proprietary interest targeting.

Also look into Custom Audience Targeting and Lookalike targeting. These types of campaigns tend to outperform Interest targeting. Learn how to fine-tune your campaigns over time 

Removal of Legacy Metrics  

Facebook announced the removal of several metrics they viewed as outdated and non-actionable. Starting in July of 2018 many of the metrics will become unavailable. Some of the top categories of metrics include:

  • Actions, People Taking Action, Cost per Any ActionFacebook recommends customizing metrics to reflect specific actions. For example, tracking reaction for Engagement Ads and Page Likes. 
  • Button Clicks – You can focus on Clicks instead 
  • Canvas Component Time Percentage consider tracking Canvas View Time and Canvas View Percentage
  • Positive Feedback, Negative Feedback –  Relevance score is a more accurate metric that reflects the quality of ads.

Note: this is not a complete list of metrics being removed. Check Facebook directly for the full list.

API Removal 

To continue with the theme of improving the quality of user experience, Facebook will be restricting its API use. This change may impact many of the tools and Facebook management processes.

Specifically, pay attention to the following top changes:

  • Pages API – many of the Facebook page management and scheduling apps may be impacted by this change. This may also limit access Messenger bots have to your page
  • Events API – this change may impact ticketing apps and event search experience.
  • Group API – Facebook will limit Group Management apps and will have a significant impact on marketers who actively group groups

Review all of the apps you use to manage your Facebook marketing to ensure that your campaigns will not be negatively impacted.

Removing Audience Size and Reach Estimates 

Facebook is changing the way audiences are presented to the advertisers. If you use Custom Audience for your campaigns, you may have noticed that the Audience definition, reach and audience size are no longer available.

There are two workarounds for this issue:

  1. You can pay attention to daily estimates for reach and engagement. While these are not entirely accurate, these serve as a proxy to help you project campaign performance
  2. Rely on historical data from previous campaigns for similar audiences and products.

This change further underscores the need to pay attention to the campaign reports and key campaign performance metrics.

Impressions Counting 

Transparency is one of the key directives for Facebook in 2018. To further drive transparency of the reporting, Facebook has been making many impression reporting changes in the last 2 years.

The last change now includes ALL of the impressions data previously not reported on. Facebook ensures that the advertisers will not be charged for extra impressions.

If you compare similar campaigns you may see that while campaigns have the same budget, reach and engagement, your recent campaigns may show 2x impressions.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 

Last, but not least – GDPR. This change is by far one of the largest changes marketers must be aware of.

The new regulation completely redefines personal information to include a direct and indirect definition of it. In addition to most obvious categories, such as name, email address, it also includes location data, IP address and more.

This article does not constitute a legal advice. To fully understand implications of GDPR please consult an attorney and review the GDPR principles)

I have summarized my personal understanding of the key GDPR changes:

  • GDPR is not a guideline. It is a regulation – You must comply to avoid hefty fines.
  • You do not have to be in EU for the regulation to apply. Unless you block 100% of the EU traffic, you must comply.
  • Any time you collect personal information (direct or indirect), you must have explicit consent – i.e. users have to physically check the consent box. Make sure that the consent box is unchecked on any of your email collection forms and require dual confirmation of the opt-in.
  • Clearly explain types of data you collect how you use and store data. Privacy Policy should be updated with this information and easily accessible.
  • Outline all of the 3rd party apps and cookies such as Facebook and Google retargeting.
  • If you have multiple uses for the data (e.g. you have an eCommerce website, have affiliate links of Display ads) a separate consent will be required for each data use.
  • Provide each user with a clear way to opt-out, delete or update their personal information stored by you.
  • Never purchase email, phone number and other contact data from 3rd parties. Unless you have explicit consent from the user, you cannot contact them.
  • Review your existing email list. If you have not previously received explicit consent from your email list, do NOT email them under any circumstances. Even an email asking whether they want to be removed from the list may be deemed as a violation of GDPR.
  • Research and install plug-ins that will help you manage your compliance. We use GDPR plugin for our WordPress site, but there are many other ones on the market.
  • If your data security is breached, you must notify everyone impacted right away.
  • Most importantly, think about data you collect – if you do not absolutely need it, do not ask for it.

Marketers worldwide are still struggling to understand what GDPR means to them. Do not be surprised if the list of guidelines will continue to evolve.


With so many things in flux creating a regular practice to stay up-to-date on the latest changes will help you improve your marketing efforts. If you need help with navigating the ever-changing Facebook maze, apply for a FREE 15-minute strategy session with one of our Strategists.

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