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Is this the end of Meta’s behavioral targeting?

Is this the end of Meta’s behavioral targeting?

Starting November 17, the European Data Protection Board states that Meta can no longer use personalized ad targeting in Europe. Let's see how Meta reacted and what does it mean for marketers.
Is this the end of Meta’s behavioral targeting?

What’s happening with Meta’s behavioral targeting

Starting November 17, the European Data Protection Board states that Meta can no longer use personalized ad targeting across the European Economic Area’s 30 countries.

Meta’s counter-move? Launching a subscription service. Now, for €9.99/€12.99 per month, we can enjoy Facebook and Instagram ad-free.

Meta offers subscribers an ad-free experience, while others can continue using the platforms with “tailored” ads - implying personalized targeting remains for non-subscribers.

Meta ads behavioral targeting ban in Europe

How Meta’s behavioral targeting works

Meta has been criticized for using personal information like browsing habits and app usage for ad targeting. With the EDPB’s decision, it seems advertisers may lose the ability to specify target audiences.

But does it mean that Meta should not be able to learn from the activity data to show personalized ads to users? Here the clear semantics from the regulatory committee would help.

But clearly, it’s not a realistic option because it would end the whole ad system not only for Meta but for other tech giants and not Meta alone.

Meta’s response

It’s safe to say Meta’s not betting on their subscription plan to offset the revenue hit from the targeted ad ban in Europe. Echoing Jon Loomer, Meta would likely fare just fine even if no subscriptions were sold.

Social media responses suggest minimal enthusiasm for the paid service. After 15 years of cost-free access to Instagram and Facebook, paying more than $150 annually for ad-free usage isn’t catching on widely.

This subscription is Meta’s way of navigating GDPR compliance while keeping personalized ads flowing for those choosing the free, ad-supported option.

According to Meta’s statement, this new choice is their way of complying with evolving European regulations. They present the subscription as a GDPR-compliant option, allowing them to maintain tailored advertising for those who prefer the ad-supported model.

Meta ad free subscription

Impact of Meta’s ad-free subscription on advertisers

Social media reactions indicate the subscription model might not be widely adopted.

Unless there’s a significant uptake of the paid subscription, the status quo for advertisers remains largely unchanged.

Either way, the key thing to watch now is the European Data Protection Board’s reaction to Meta’s approach. Will they accept the subscription service as adequate for GDPR compliance, or will Meta need to develop a new strategy?

Approaching Meta Ads targeting in 2024

Post-iOS 14 and with ongoing privacy measures, Meta ad targeting has evolved. Now, the focus is on broader, AI-driven targeting with tools like Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, Advantage+ Audience, Advantage Lookalike, and Targeting Expansion.

What should marketers do?

  • Reduce сold audience segmentation: With algorithms reaching beyond your chosen audience, it’s not efficient to have many ad groups for testing. Better to limit the number of ad sets for cold targeting to avoid overlapping and splitting your audience too much.
  • Leverage broad targeting: Use broad targeting for cold audiences and test Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, relying on Meta’s AI to identify the best audience.

Advantage+ audience and Advantage+ shopping campaign.png

PS: At SegmentStream, we recognize Meta as a powerful channel with a huge revenue potential. The challenge is that it’s often underrated compared to Search, for example, especially using last-click attribution.

Our work with Lancome revealed Facebook’s significant contribution to total sales, leading to a 41% ROAS improvement across their marketing mix. Read the case study.

Discover how we can help your company with accurate measurement and optimization - book a personalized demo now.

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