How Can Data Innovation Revamp Targeted Advertising?

In December 2021, Facebook (now Meta) updated its Special Ad Category, which encompasses any ads relating to employment, credit, housing, and politics, to prevent discrimination.

The move is seen as a reaction to an event that unfolded in 2019. Then, Facebook restricted targeted ads in the US to prevent real estate and housing brands from deliberately excluding minority groups from campaigns.

The change involved removing specific targeting options that brands could use in a discriminatory fashion, such as age, gender, and postcodes or small radius geo-targets. As a result, advertisers became more reliant on Facebook’s algorithms to find the right audience for their campaigns.

Less targeted advertising leads to higher customer acquisition costs for your brand. However, by blending first-party data and innovative solutions with Meta’s lookalike algorithms, you can restore –– and improve –– your advertising performance.

Keep reading to learn more about what the changes to Meta’s detailed targeting options mean for your business. In this article we’ll cover how data innovation can convert challenges into opportunities.

Why Are Targeted Advertising Campaigns More Effective?


You’ve probably heard the expression: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one”.

Over 50% of prospects turn out to be bad fits for businesses. However, targeted ads enable you to find and interact with customers who are more interested in your product, increasing your chances of making a sale.

The more details you have about your audience, the easier it is to win their business and generate revenue for your brand. When used correctly, targeted advertising helps you cut through the white noise and attract loyal customers who keep coming back.

Changes to Facebook Detailed Targeting Options: How Does it Affect Brands?


The changes to Facebook’s targeting mean companies in industries like real estate and credit lose access to important demographics and interest groups used to refine audiences. Here are a few examples:

Advertisers often use postcodes or small-radius discs to geographically segment audiences. This segmentation uses1km ranges spread across maps to target the customers they’re most likely to convert. Facebook’s detailed targeting changes prevent brands wanting to run housing, employment or credit ads from targeting customers by postcode.

Because of the new restrictions, advertisers have had to increase their minimum disc size to a 15-mile radius. In a densely populated city like London, the targeting pool could increase from 49,200-57,900 to 5.7-6.7M customers.

The larger radius makes it much more difficult to target customers effectively, forcing brands to spend more on customer acquisition to achieve the same conversion rate. 

Demographic targeting
Facebook has also restricted brands’ options for demographic targeting in their Special Ads, meaning you can no longer make changes to age and gender.

Audiences must include all genders and ages 18 through 65+. In addition, Facebook has removed some additional demographic, behaviour and interest options, and has excluded detailed targeting selections.

Instead, Facebook encourages brands to broaden –– not restrict –– their audiences and use the audience selection tools in exclusive, not discriminatory ways.

How Can Innovative Advertising Solutions Improve Targeted Ad Results?


The best approach to boosting your targeted advertising results will depend on your particular business model and goals, but here are three effective methods any brand can use:

1. Lookalike audiences
Getting the audience right is crucial to creating effective ads for your brand. By building lookalike audiences for your Facebook ads, you can target new people who will likely be interested in your business because they are similar to your existing customers.

Once you’ve created Lookalike Audiences for each audience segment, use these tricks to get the most out of your ads:

  • Target the same ads to each Lookalike Audience with initial bids.
  • Monitor how well the ads perform based on revenue per conversion or the lifetime value of the people in each audience.
  • Modify your bids for each audience based on your findings, bidding more for more valuable audiences and less for less valuable audiences.

When using lookalike audiences, the most important thing is to test and monitor how different settings perform. You need to continuously refine your audiences and look for new activities to measure to ensure your ads achieve maximum results.

2. Never stop innovating
Lookalike audiences are only as good as the seed audiences used to feed the algorithm. Existing customer lists may not be large enough for the lookalike algorithm to perform well, or may not be appropriate when looking for growth into new segments. At Outra, we have blended our own data with the client’s data to supercharge the algorithm and brought CPL performance in real estate up by 36%  – back to its level before the targeting limitations were introduced.

Advertising technology is constantly evolving, unlocking new opportunities to create hyper-targeted ads. At Outra, we’re all about finding new ways to help brands leverage targeting data to plan, budget and execute marketing campaigns more effectively.

3. Content is king
Every ad needs high-quality, relevant content that entices your audience to click on the ad and find out more about your offer. If you’re short on ideas, use your already high-performing content (blog, YouTube videos, etc.) to create new Facebook ad campaigns.

Try repurposing content into:

  • Infographics
  • A video sales letter
  • A free video course
  • An e-book
  • Different angles for your ad

Creating multiple lookalike audiences requires numerous ad ideas to test. Repurposing high-performing content is an excellent way to fill that gap quickly with material your audience already loves.

With the Right Data & Innovation, Anything is Possible

Changes to targeted advertising don’t have to be an obstacle, but an opportunity! The increased focus on privacy and brands’ social responsibility is actually a positive development that companies can use to improve their marketing and general operations.

By keeping an open mind and embracing innovation, your brand can increase effectiveness throughout the marketing lifecycle: from media planning to content personalisation, precision targeting and campaign optimisation.

Innovation is the key to bringing advertising into the future. At Outra, we live for creating powerful solutions that transform basic ad targeting into multi-channel marketing campaigns that target your customers at the right time,

By using our data and innovative marketing solutions, we’ve gotten our clients back on track to achieve the same results as they did before the change. Our unique approach helped one brand achieve a 400% increase in weekly leads in February alone and increase conversion rate by 586%, resulting in a 64% decrease in Cost Per Lead.

What does this prove? That with the right data and innovation, anything is possible!

Are you ready to revolutionise your advertising?