Are you accidentally violating Facebook’s Ad Targeting Guidelines?



Custom Audience’s allow advertisers to serve ads to individuals they’ve previously interacted with. A common use case includes targeting people who are on your email list. But, what should you do if they decide to opt-out of your email list *after* you’ve already included them in your custom audience?

As per Facebook: To the extent an individual exercises such an opt-out after you have used data relating to that individual to create a custom audience, you will remove that data subject from the custom audience. 

Meaning, you’re supposed to stop serving them ads if they opt-out of your email list.

Are you doing this?

If your email list has been uploaded via API, this process may take place automatically.

If you’re manually uploading your lists, you’ll need to perform some routine maintenance.

How often? That part isn’t mentioned.

According to the CAN-SPAM Act - a law that sets the rules for commercial email - you must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list.

Using that as a guideline, you may want to consider scrubbing your lists once every 10 days. Time to start looking for an intern?

On the flipside, you - or your agency - may be purposely violating these rules.

Maybe you just don't care, maybe you didn’t know your agency was doing some shady stuff without telling you.

Either way, Facebook is working on a Custom Audience’s permission tool that will require user consent confirmation.

The tool, still in development, will aim to safeguard against advertisers misusing user data in uploaded lists for ad targeting. Details around how it will work or what the process will be are still unknown. It could be a complex set of permissions, or just a checkbox asking advertisers to pinky swear they have consent to use the data.

That said, Facebook could easily poll random individuals in these audiences asking if they consented to the use of their data. In this scenario, if X% say ‘No’, Facebook could conclude this list was developed in violation of their Custom Audience terms and take further action.

A similar approach is already used to test Ad Recall, the metric for which users would remember seeing an ad two days later.

Facebook Ad Recall.jpg

Instead of saying ‘Do you recall seeing an ad . . .’ they could ask ‘Do you remember opting in to . . .’

This approach is obviously prone to false negatives but could be enough to scare off some of the less bold policy violators and/or companies that have more to lose.

We can expect additional platform updates to rollout over the next few months. Stay tuned.



About me

I’m a former Facebook employee, and a Certified Facebook Advertising professional. Over the years, I’ve trained thousands of individuals, and worked with multiple agencies and teams.

I know Facebook Marketing can be challenging, but if you have the determination, I can guide you through the process. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping people finally ‘get it’, so they can apply their business knowledge to creating profitable campaigns.


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