Facebook is adding the same Special Ad Category field it rolled out in Ads Manager in July to its Marketing API next month. The update, which is designed for marketers and developers running housing, employment and credit ads, limits the set of targeting options to keep marketers from running discriminatory ad campaigns.

“All developers that want to create ads must implement the Special Ad Category flows by December 4, 2019, or their ads may be paused for non-compliance,” Facebook wrote.

The Special Ad Category will be available within the Facebook Marketing API on September 16. Facebook said all new campaigns must comply with the Special Ads Category rule by December 4 or the campaigns will be terminated.

Why we should care

Facebook’s efforts to end discriminatory advertising practices impacts any marketer running housing, employment or credit related ad campaigns. Advertisers that don’t select the Special Ads Category run the risk of their campaigns being terminated on the platform.

All other advertisers targeting users in the U.S. with ads that are not related to housing, employment or credit products or services must specify “NONE” in the Special Ads Category, “Or the campaign creation requests will fail,” said Facebook.

Once the Special Ad Category is selected, some detailed targeting options will no longer be available, such as demographics, behaviors or interests. “Special Ad Category” advertisers will also not be allowed to exclude any targeting options.

In March Facebook announced it was removing age, gender and ZIP code targeting filters for housing, employment and credit ads. The decision was part of a settlement Facebook reached with multiple civil rights groups that charged the company with allowing discriminatory ad campaigns to run on the platform. At the time, Facebook said it would be rolling out new tools to keep housing, employment and credit advertisers from running ads that discriminated against users. The Special Ad Category field is Facebook’s solution.

More on the news

  • The Special Ad Category updates to the Marketing API include changes to the ad campaign, ad set and ad level and targeting and audience settings. Developers can review the Marketing API documentation to prepare for the coming updates.
  • Facebook said, starting in 2020, advertisers and developers will be required to update campaigns that launched before December 4 to comply with the Special Ad Category requirements.
  • Facebook released an audit report in June outlining the steps it had taken since December, 2019 to fight discriminatory practices on the platform, and plans to release a follow-up report during the first half of 2020.

About The Author