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Right when you thought advertising couldn’t get any trickier, Facebook declares that marketers won’t be able to advertise to users under 18-years-old based on their interests and online activity. 

But why stop there? Kill three birds with one stone and implement these restrictions to Instagram and Messenger whilst you’re at it. 

These restrictions will have a consequential impact on how brands advertise on social media, especially concerning the reliable techniques of lookalike audiences and retargeting.

You remind me of someone.

A lookalike audience is a term we use when reaching out to new audiences who are similar to already reliable customers. 

Usually, marketers can gather this information by comparing the interests users post and discuss on social media platforms. For example, if our friendly customer, Johnny Football, has a Facebook friend who enjoys kicking the ball around too – it would be in a marketer’s best interest to advertise to them. 

Additionally, retargeting allows marketers to deliver ads directly to users who have previously interacted with your brand. Whether through visiting your website or searching for a specific product, retargeting is a vital player in the consideration stages of a buyer’s journey.

With privacy restrictions rapidly integrating within social media platforms, these strategies will become significantly harder to utilize. 

Oh, Facebook… 

Why all the changes now? Earlier this year, researchers experimented with the platforms ad algorithms by creating adverts aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds revolving around alcohol, weight loss and gambling, even though Facebook’s policies forbid this.

Thankfully, the ads never saw the light of day. However, Facebook’s ad management system did approve them for publishing. 

With the latest additions to Instagram’s privacy settings (being that users under the age of 16 will have their account automatically set to private), Facebook said this about privacy restrictions and children on their platforms: 

“This is complex territory, with competing interests and considerations. We’re committed to working with experts and the broader industry to give young people a compelling and safe experience on our services.” 

Tip of the iceberg. 

These restrictions are a cherry-topping piece to an already privacy coated cake. It’s becoming harder and harder to advertise online. We’ve previously discussed how Apple has implemented stricter privacy restrictions to their emailing system (which you can read here).  

We also can’t forget about our old friend Mr Third Party Cookie and its crumbling significance online. 

From a users perspective, it will help safeguard privacy, but it will lead to a worse user experience as the ads they see won’t be relevant. 

For example, this will have a massive impact on universities and colleges that advertise uniquely to potential students. With these new restrictions, educational services will struggle to gather click-through rates as ads become less targeted and relevant. This could have a significant effect on specific periods such as Clearing and A-Level Results Day. 

Let’s get creative!

It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s time to get experimental and rejig our advertising efforts! Let’s take a look at some creative and innovative techniques that will help mitigate these restrictions and get you ahead of your competitors: 

Firstly, marketers can still use broad categories and advertise to this cohort. These include factors such as age, gender and location. Ads that focus on these themes are not out of the question. 

Ty Martin, the founder of Audience Kitchen; a platform that helps uncover targetable audiences on Facebook and Instagram, states

“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…”

Additionally, maybe it’s time to pack your bags and move to a different platform. Contextual retargeting is all about altering your advertising methods to cater to the content of a specific webpage. And what better place is there to get creative than the newest member of the social media family, TikTok!  

TikTok offers a goldmine of advertising formats to get creatively crazy over. We’ve highlighted them here if you’d like to delve deeper. 

We also can’t forget about our other Gen Z social hub, Snapchat. Being one of the “fastest ways to share a moment”, we’re getting great results with our advertising efforts due to its easy-to-use interface and snappy (sorry) design. 

As always, we’ll keep you posted with any additional insight we gather about privacy restrictions online. In the meantime, if you’d like advice on how to advertise online and avoid these prickly privacy regulations, contact our team of professionals now. 


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