Facebook Ends 3rd Party Data Access for Ad Targeting


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Have you checked Facebook lately? Facebook recently announced it will remove access to data provided by third-party data partners in an effort to protect user privacy. The social media platform is also updating its algorithm which will affect users’ News Feed experience. This is a noticeable change that leaves many advertisers concerned. Read on to find out what you should know.

What are Partner Categories?

In essence, Partner Categories allow advertisers to target users based on offline behaviors taken outside of Facebook. Advertisers can obtain information like purchasing behaviors, household income, and in-market audiences from third-party data providers. For instance, marketers can focus their campaigns on Facebook users in the market for a particular type of car, who hold a credit card, and have an affinity for a specific brand.

Why is Facebook Phasing out Data Partners?

Facebook is getting rid of data partners for a few reasons. First, the company is trying to save face from the negative press that followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the political data firm acquired private information on over 50 million Facebook users.

Second, it’s an effort to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25, 2018. This legislation was created to protect the privacy of European citizens and will apply to all companies that process their personal data, regardless of where they reside. By October 1, all Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options to marketers.

What’s Changing?

Facebook will remove all data from partners, including Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud (Datalogix), Epsilon, and Experian. This involves all third-party targeting capabilities, both private and public. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg announced an algorithm update that alters the user’s News Feed. The goal of the update is to “encourage meaningful interactions” whether posts come from family and friends or brands. These changes clearly represent an attempt to keep user experience and privacy in mind. However, they leave many marketers concerned.

Recent Facebook updates are meant to promote “meaningful interactions.”

How Does this Affect Advertisers?

Facebook marketed the availability of third-party data to advertisers as a means to increase specificity in targeting. This is attractive to many clients, thus, the removal of Partner Category data sparks alarming concern. While we understand the genuine distress of advertisers right now, we believe you can put all those worries to rest. The NetElixir Social Team has not experienced substantial results from the use of Partner Category data. We see more success with customer audience lists, lookalike audiences, and even dynamic broad audience and retargeting campaigns. 

Since Facebook is now taking more steps to protect user privacy, we’re not worried about the #DeleteFacebook trend. Overall, we don’t expect any major impact for marketers directly correlated to these changes, as long as advertisers have a firm paid social strategy.

The paid social industry is constantly changing. Advertisers must learn to test, experiment, and adjust to shorter term strategies. Experimentation will teach us to find new, unique ways to reach our target audiences. Facebook has rolled out multiple advertising capabilities just within the last two years and we believe new features will become available soon.


Facebook is completely getting rid of Partner Categories by mid-fall this year. This feature had allowed marketers to intricately target users through third-party data. The social media platform also implemented an update to its News Feed algorithm. Users now receive fewer posts in their feeds from brands, unless they’re relevant and promote “meaningful interactions.” Fear not, fellow advertisers! We don’t think users are going anywhere and the other existing marketing features prove to be more successful anyway. So long Partner Categories! Paid social advertising is continually growing and the Facebook platform is still one of the top contenders.

What Do You Think?

Have you witnessed a substantial change in your News Feed content? Do you think your advertising campaigns have been affected? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Advertisers predict consumers won’t be leaving Facebook anytime soon. They might be checking their Facebook right now!

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