John Manlove
Gina Manlove

What You Need to Know about Facebook and Third-Party Targeting

Posted on May 2, 2018

At the end of March 2018, Facebook announced plans to phase out third-party targeting that helps advertisers reach relevant users on the hugely popular social media platform. If you market your products or services on Facebook, this could have a significant impact on the way you advertise.


Up until now, Facebook has collected data on users in three different ways:

  • From the users themselves (including the Pages they “like” and “follow”)
  • From advertisers (such as membership status in loyalty rewards programs)
  • From third-party providers (including purchases, in-market behaviors and household income)

The third-party ad targeting feature, known as Partner Categories, launched in 2013. Its purpose was to lump users into meaningful segments – such as singles, parents, gamers and soda drinkers – for advertising purposes.


The decision to phase out Partner Categories, according to Facebook Product Marketing Director, Graham Mudd, is to improve user privacy.

More accurately, it’s a proactive solution to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming out of the European Union, which will take effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR aims to ensure people have control over their personal data and requires their explicit permission for companies to collect and share information.

The phase-out of third-party targeting on Facebook also comes at a time when the social media platform is under scrutiny for mishandling third-party data related to President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016.


This advertising change on Facebook will go into effect gradually over the next six months. Here are the relevant dates advertisers need to know:

  • MAY 10, 2018 is the cut-off date for creating or editing campaigns using Partner Categories for audiences in the UK, Germany and France.
  • MAY 25, 2018 is when all existing campaigns built on Partner Categories for audiences in the UK, Germany and France will end.
  • JUNE 30, 2018 is the cut-off date for creating or editing campaigns using Partner Categories for audiences in non-EU countries.
  • OCTOBER 1, 2018 is when Facebook will end all Partner Categories as ad targeting options.

All advertising partners on Facebook will receive notifications in advance of these deadlines with information about which Partner Categories are impacted and any recommended updates advertisers should make to their ad campaigns.


While privacy will improve, ending third-party targeting will eliminate access to many useful ad targeting attributes. Of course, some advertisers will be affected more than others. So far, most are cautiously optimistic about what the future holds, even though Facebook has no definitive plans yet for creating proxy audiences to make up for the data being lost.

If you’re concerned about the changes to Facebook’s advertising and privacy policies, John Manlove Marketing & Communications may be able to assist. We provide creative marketing to help you expose your brand to the public without creating privacy concerns. To learn more about our services, please call us today at 281-487-6767.