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Facebook Plans to Update Ads, Retire Sponsored Stories–What it Means for Advertisers

Written by: Laurie Cutts, Director of Marketing

Facebook recently announced seven changes to the Ads API that will provide more effective targeting and creative options for advertisers. The new targeting options will be fully available by April 9–including interest targeting, demographic targeting and behavioral targeting. They also revealed creative updates and will be officially retiring Sponsored Stories.

Here are the 7 big changes that will impact Facebook advertising:


Facebook has realigned its overall approach to ad targeting, focusing on four key areas, location, demographics, interests and behaviors. This new structure is expected to allow for greater flexibility and precision for audience creation in terms of the and/or logic between groups.

Facebook references the following example of how this will change on the Facebook Developers blog:

“Example: historically, if you selected “Parents” “Photography” “Photo uploader” within interests, the audience constructed was People who are Parents OR interested in photography OR people who upload [many] Photos. However the intended audience was: “Parents, who are interested in photography and upload pictures.” Now the specific audience will be targeted as intended”

Interest Targeting:

Facebook has revamped its interest targeting to offer a unified definition of what indicates interest in a specific topic. The company is unifying Precise Interests (Keywords, #Topics) and Broad Categories so that there is only one targeting group for reach term (This eliminates duplicate “Football” and “#Football”). Advertisers will now have one, clear option for each targeting group. Specifying keywords will be replaced in favor of interests and the maximum number of intersts you can specify in an ad group will be limited to 1,000.

Geographic Targeting:

Facebook unveiled new Geo-Targeting API ads featuring inclusion/exclusion logic. Advertisers can select any combination of Country, Region, City or Zip without any restrictions. They can also exclude locations from their targeting parameters and continue to take advantage of radius targeting for cities. Moving forward, geo-targeting is now “Or” and not “And”–Facebook refers to the following example:

“For example, to target California, the previous logic would have required you to specify “US” as the country and California as the state. With the updated logic, if you specify “US as the country” and “California” as the state, the targeting will result in the entire “US”. To target “California,” you now only need to specify “California”.

Advanced Demographic and Behavioral Targeting:

Facebook will now offer advanced Demographic targeting options such as enhanced coverage of workplace, education and job title types, and relationship status types. There is also new functionality that allows you to select a time period for a change of life event (3 months, 6 months, 1 year).

Behaviors, a new targeting type will feature a user’s specific actions, past purchase behavior, or likelihood to purchase. This will include targeting segments previously categorized as interests.

Creative Data Model:

As Facebook looks to streamline its advertising, they are simplifying the creative data model. The focus of creative will be on the promoted object and the creative assets instead of the creative type, making them more consistent.

“As part of a simplification of the ad creative object, we will be removing the field type and standardizing on field names. We will infer what type of ad you wish to create based on the other fields within the creative spec.”

Ad Image Cropping:

Facebook is adding the option to specify image crops through the Ads API. Image crops can be used to describe the way that an image should be displayed in each aspect ratio for different ad placements. When rendered, the image will be cropped according to the parameters provided and in the absence of specifications for an aspect ration, the image will display in the default way.

Sponsored Stories:

Facebook will retire Sponsored Stories as well. Facebook recommends that advertisers leverage Page post and Page like ads, which already feature social context. Until the retirement date, they will continue to deliver existing Page post and Page like Sponsored Stories. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will be phased out permanently on April 9th.

According to the Facebook, there are 10 types of sponsored stories:

  • App shared sponsored story
  • Check-in sponsored story
  • Domain sponsored story
  • Event sponsored story
  • Game played sponsored story
  • Open graph sponsored story
  • Page like sponsored story
  • Page post comment sponsored story
  • Page post like sponsored story
  • Page post share sponsored story

Facebook is constantly evolving its advertising options in their quest to make their ads more effective for advertisers. With more than 1.19 billion users, Facebook offers massive scale in terms of reach and engagement. Let us know what you think about these latest changes in the comments below.

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