Last month, Facebook warned advertisers about an upcoming complication for their marketing strategies. The social media company will now be making a “clear history” feature available to its users. By selecting this option, people with Facebook profiles will be able to delete or disable data that the social network receives from outside websites and apps.
Today, we’ll explore why this choice is beneficial for consumers – and how it complicates things for advertisers.
How Facebook’s New Tool Works
The tool doesn’t delete users’ browsing activity or off-site actions, but it does make data anonymous. By choosing to clear their history, those with Facebook accounts will have their personal, identifying information removed – therefore removing the association between browsing activity and a personal account.
The main goal of Clear History is to create more transparency for users; it also provides them with a list of websites they have visited which employ Facebook’s suite of business tools, including Facebook Pixel, SDK, and API. This empowers people with Facebook profiles to make informed decisions about who, exactly, can access their personal information.
The Benefits of Clearing Facebook User Data
Facebook’s founder and high-ranking executives have found themselves in hot water in recent weeks. In the wake of data theft and privacy concerns, it’s no surprise that the social media giant has begun to prioritize users’ safety and data security. This development is just one of many recent changes Facebook’s higher-ups have released to the public. Representatives wrote in their announcement that “it’s important to understand that advertising and protecting people’s information are not at odds. We can do both.”
As mentioned, this change creates greater levels of transparency and independence for Facebook users – your potential customers. Their data is still available for analytics purposes, but with these new policies, it will exist independent of each individual’s Facebook account when requested.
How “Clear History” Affects Your Social Media Marketing
Those who haven’t set up ads themselves may be surprised by just how much data Facebook utilizes to categorize its members. Targeting options include geographical location, interests, prior purchase behavior, connections with pages or events, and demographics (such as age, gender, education level, relationship status, and job title). These prior behaviors are what will be impacted by the new policy.
Retargeting is a common tactic used to convert those who have visited your website in the past. This includes previous buyers, as well as those who browsed but have not made a purchase. By placing a pixel on your site, you are able to serve ads specifically to that audience: previous visitors. This targeting will be the most impacted by the Clear History feature. Once the tool goes live, if a user opts out of linking their off-Facebook activity, companies will no longer be able to use their data for targeting.
In brief, this means that Facebook Pixel and other tried-and-true advertising methods can’t be used to retarget someone who has opted out. This includes any custom audiences you’ve built consisting of visitors to your website or people using your app.
The good news for savvy marketers is that this doesn’t present an insurmountable challenge – just a series of changes to your overall strategy. Analytics reports will be unaffected, and accurate measurement of site traffic and conversions is still assured.
Why It Matters
Facebook has proven to be a great source of rich ad targeting and consumer data, but at what cost to user privacy? The Clear History feature is hopefully a first step towards increased transparency and prioritization of user safety in social media advertising. We’re excited to see Facebook (and hopefully other platforms) moving in this direction.
Webconsuls is a digital marketing company based in Nashville, TN, and Los Angeles, CA.