What Automotive Advertisers Need To Know About Facebook's New Ad Compliance Policy

Crystal Wong, Director of Marketing

October 01, 2019

A Facebook non-discrimination advertising policy that predominantly targets the housing and real estate industry has also begun to affect the automotive space. Here’s what your dealership needs to know about Facebook’s new ad compliance policy and how this relates to digital advertising at your dealership.

What's happening?

For the past couple of years, Facebook has been fighting back accusations of allowing advertisers to unlawfully discriminate people by excluding them to see ads for housing, jobs, and credit. In March 2019, Facebook announced changes in how they manage housing, employment, and credit ads on its platform to prevent further discrimination. This meant that in June 2019, they rolled out new rules that required all advertisers based in the U.S. or trying to reach audiences in the U.S. to use a new process to buy housing, employment, and credit ads called the Special Ad Categories. Currently, we’re starting to see how this non-discrimination policy is starting to affect the automotive space and our financing advertisements.

How does this change affect dealership advertising on Facebook?

Unfortunately, the removal of any credit-related content on automotive advertising can drastically change how automotive dealerships target customers for finance offers. However, with special ad categories, any automotive advertising that promotes any credit or loan content on the advertisement or the landing page can be filed as a credit opportunity. At Orbee, we noticed that if automotive ads weren’t published under this special ad category, they tend to get disapproved and are unable to be served. We also noticed that despite the ad format – such as service display banners, model special videos, or product catalogs – the variety of ads were still disapproved due to the credit-related content on the dealership landing pages.

What does this mean for our Facebook ads?

You can still serve ads that offer loans and financing or any credit-related content. However, keep in mind that it must be placed under the special ad category. Because Facebook now has a strict non-discrimination advertising policy, detailed targeting is unfortunately very restricted. This means that you may not target based on demographics, behavior, multicultural affinity, and interest. You also cannot exclude any detailed targeting selections. We also noticed that in-market and conquest marketing were affected the most by this new policy due to the inability to be precise with who we are targeting, especially targeting based on zip codes.

While detailed targeting is pretty restrictive and despite the inability to use zip codes, you can still use first-party data for targeting and target your advertisements based on geographic location; country, region, state, province, city, and congressional district are still available. You can also choose specific locations within a 15 to 50-mile radius around the targeted city, address, or pin drop.

Moving forward, we will still be able to utilize valuable Custom Audiences for targeting from first-party data sources such as website traffic, customer lists, and other Facebook sources, like those who interacted with your Facebook Page. This means we will still be able to create audiences to retarget people who have visited your website or retarget people from a CRM export of your sales data after given authorized dealership approval. 

We plan on using Facebook’s substitute for Lookalike Audiences, called Special Ad Audiences. This new audience type from Facebook will use online behavior similarities from individuals in your original source group to create a new audience. The predominant difference is that Special Ad Audiences will not create these audiences based off of potentially discriminatory factors, such as gender, age or interests. The caveat to this new process is that we are losing more authority over targeting to Facebook and its algorithm, but we still have time to see how this tool will perform.

What's next?

Our team will begin to label all Facebook advertising under the special category to avoid the consequences of not following this new compliance policy. Furthermore, despite the inability to be as precise as we can with who we are targeting and the initial flags of credit-related ads, Orbee is working on continuing to empower our customers to stay ahead of the curve as privacy and advertising policies continue to change. We will be readily available to assist you with the changes, and our team will continue to monitor performance and provide updates as they become available.