Most advertisers will never have to experience the frustration and confusion that is advertising to special categories on Facebook. However, if your or a client's offer is relevant to a category such as housing, employment, credit, social issues, or politics, you'll need to keep reading our guide all about Facebook special ads category.
Because these topics - and the audiences that fall under them - are at risk of being exploited or discriminated against, Facebook has instituted certain policies to restrict advertisers. And while you may feel like you're facing an uphill batter advertising to these special categories, you don't need to stress any longer. We're going to break down all you need to know about the special ad category on Facebook in this in-depth guide!
You're going to learn which specific categories are protected and what this means for you - the advertiser. We're going to help you gain a sense of confidence in running paid ads to these groups while staying in Facebook's good graces. Keep reading - we'll start by explaining what exactly the special ads category on Facebook is.
What Is The Special Ads Category On Facebook For?
The vast majority of Facebook advertisers do not ever encounter special ad categories when creating their campaigns. However, if you are here reading this article - you may already know that your target audience is under this umbrella. So, first things first - what is the special ad category on Facebook for?
This is a relatively new feature on the Facebook ads platform. Advertisers are responsible for choosing a special ad category if one applies. That means the onus is on you - the advertiser - to determine: 1) if your target audience is a special ad category and 2) which special ad category that is. Upon declaring your special ad category, Facebook will take elevated measures to ensure you comply with their policies. The reason being these special ad audiences are more at risk of being discriminated against.
We know what you're thinking - how can you discriminate against users on Facebook just by running ads? Sounds strange, right? We hear you. Nevertheless, Facebook is always going to do what best represents their users - advertisers come second, despite being the ones who ultimately pay Facebook. And because users don't want to be served these types of ads based on their demographic characteristics: age, gender, location - etc.
You use these demographic characteristics to run effective Facebook ad campaigns for unprotected audiences all the time. You can serve ads exclusively to females if you run a swimwear brand - and you can serve ads exclusively to those under the age of 25 if you run a streetwear brand and have a younger audience. Why is it any different for these special ad categories?
Well, according to Facebook, it's because these topics/audience types: credit, housing, politics, and employment in particular - have long been areas of discrimination. Facebook will not allow advertisers to target specific audience subsets if it could prevent users from
- Finding good housing
- Securing a good job
- Voting for certain candidates
- Accessing credit opportunities
All of this is to say - if you run ads to an audience for an offer that falls under any of the categories we've discussed above, you're going to be forced to jump through a few hoops and play the game on a harder difficulty. But we're here to guide you along the way. Let's talk about finding the proper special ad category for your offer.
Audiences/Topics In The Facebook Special Ads Category:
Before we discuss what you need to know about running ads to these special ad categories, we're going to break down the main audiences/topics that fall under the umbrella of protection. According to Facebook, they are:
Running ads to any offer for housing opportunities or a related service. For example, listings for houses or apartments either for sale or for rent come under this umbrella. So too do ads that promote anything related to housing. That includes homeowners or renter's insurance, mortgage insurance, mortgage loans, housing repairs, home equity or appraisal services, and more.
What doesn't fall under this umbrella are ads that help educate users about their rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws. If this is what your offer is all about, you can incorporate the Equal Opportunity Housing logo to differentiate your ads. Facebook will view them as nondiscriminatory.
Credit opportunity ads are another Facebook special ad category you must be careful about. Any ads that promote credit card offers, auto loans, personal or business loan services, mortgage loans, or long-term financing fall under the Facebook special ad category. It's worth noting that all brand ads for credit card companies fall under this umbrella - regardless of the specific offer being promoted.
This one is pretty obvious - any social issues or political topics fall under the Facebook special ad category as well. Specifically, any ads being promoted by or on behalf of a candidate for public office, a political figure, a political party, or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office. But it's not just about candidates or parties. Any sort of election, referendum, or ballot initiative will fall under the Facebook special ad category as well. That includes "go out and vote" campaigns.
Social issues fall under the same scope as politics. Social issues can include any topics that are sensitive and/or heavily debated. This is to prevent political figures from bombarding users with ads trying to influence the outcome of an election or result in/relate to existing or proposed legislation.
Because this Facebook special ad category can get pretty complicated, Facebook has an entire section helping advertisers learn more about social issues, elections, and politics. In the off chance your offer falls under this Facebook special ad category, it is definitely a great resource to check out. The last thing you want during campaigning is to deal with an account being restricted due to breaking ad policies.
The final Facebook special ad category advertisers must be aware of is employment. Any ads that promote or directly link to an employment opportunity are going to fall under this category. That includes running paid ads for job listings, internships, or professional certification programs. And, it may even include ads promoting job boards or fairs in general, aggregation services, or ads detailing perks a company may provide. One such example of this is the huge advertising campaign being run by Amazon right now on all social media platforms.
What Advertisers Should Know About Facebook Special Ads Category
Now that you know what the different categories are, which Facebook special ads category do you fall under? You should have a better idea - but if you're not sure, your best bet is to reach out to Facebook support for additional information.
Once you've determined which Facebook special ad category applies to your offer, you'll have to disclose that when creating ads going forward. Here is how you do that.
Where To Disclose Special Ad Categories When Building Campaigns
When inside your ads manager, you'll begin creating a campaign as you normally would. But on the first screen, you'll be prompted to choose a special ad category. Most of us ignore this feature. But if it applies to your offer, you'll need to click the dropdown box and select the type of ad you have. You won't see much difference in the campaign creation process - until you get to the audience aspect of your ad set.
Inside that ad set, you'll notice that certain features are unavailable that normal ads present. Unfortunately, your ads will be limited in terms of detailed targeting selections available. Age, gender, zip code, and other demographics will be limited. You'll be unable to exclude specific audiences from seeing your ad too. Furthermore, you will be unable to create lookalike audiences. While that isn't a huge issue at this point in time, as lookalike audiences are not as powerful as they used to be, it is still frustrating.
What If I Just Don't Disclose My Facebook Special Ad Audience?
If you decide that you're going to game the system and just run ads as you normally would - knowing your offer falls under one of the special ad categories we discussed above - you're at risk of losing your account. It will begin with rejected ads. If you continue submitting ads that fall under the special ad categories without disclosing, these rejections will turn into an outright ban.
Remember - Facebook is smarter than you think they are. They can determine exactly what your ad is about using AI in the review process. You won't outsmart them. This is in direct violation of Facebook's ad policies, and they will shut your account down if you continue to violate that policy. Trust us - it's not worth losing an established page.
Final Thoughts On The Special Ads Category Facebook Advertisers Must Navigate
That concludes everything that special ads category Facebook advertisers must know about. You've learned what the Facebook special ad categories are, and which one your offer falls under. And, you know how to disclose that information when creating campaigns - along with what limitations come with the territory.
If you want to learn more about advertising on Facebook, take a look at some of our related blog posts - including our complete guide on Facebook detailed targeting expansion, Facebook CBO, and more.
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