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Facebook to Give Users Greater Control of Off-Facebook Data Use

What is happening?

Beginning in June 2019, Facebook will enable a tool that shows users a summary of the apps and sites that are reporting their off-Facebook data to Facebook through Business Tools (the Facebook Pixel, SDK, and Facebook Offline Conversions API) as well as the Facebook Audience Network. Users will have the ability to "clear their history"—deleting all previous off-Facebook data and resetting Facebook Login connections—as well as to prevent data from those apps and sites from being associated with their Facebook accounts going forward.

How does it work?

When a user clears their history, Facebook will disassociate all activity previously received from that user's account by any app or site using Facebook's Business Tools. Though Facebook retains the data after history is cleared, that information can no longer be used to target ads or other content to users on Facebook or Instagram but can be used in aggregate by Facebook to provide analytics and measurement services for apps and website.

When a user chooses to use the Manage Future Activity control, they can also opt to disconnect all apps and sites in the future or select specific apps and sites to disconnect. Going forward, the off-Facebook data generated from their activity on those apps and sites will not be used to personalize ads or other Facebook content.

Will this affect all ad targeting on Facebook?

No. Off-Facebook Activity will not have an effect on any ad targeting derived from on-Facebook data, like interest targeting – which is derived exclusively from on-Facebook activity, or on CRM audience targeting. Only targeting based on data collected by Facebook's Business tools, including pixel-based retargeting, will be affected.

When is this happening?

Off-Facebook Activity is slated to roll out in early June 2019, though North America is not part of the initial rollout. Global availability of Off-Facebook Activity is expected to be complete by the end of September 2019.

Anticipated Impacts

Broadly speaking, advertisers will be limited by consumer choices – which is ultimately Facebook’s goal in providing this tool to the general public.

  • Significant consumer adoption would limit advertisers’ targeting and remarketing scale, and drive additional reliance on Facebook’s interest-based targeting solutions
  • Measurement will not be affected as Facebook will still be able to provide accurate reporting based on targeting that is available and in use
  • Cost efficiency of media on Facebook may be impacted, as advertisers will have to target less specifically when consumers take advantage of the new capability
  • The availability of this tool will encourage users to more implicitly trust advertisers on Facebook, leading to much stronger affinity towards those advertisers.

Considerations

Given the North American rollout is pending, we do not recommend wholesale changes to off-Facebook targeting – defined as any Facebook activity used for targeting – as expected adoption rate is unknown as this time.  However, as the capability becomes available, it will be helpful to incorporate various tests and learning to ensure performance is maintained.

Recommendations

  • Incorporate prospecting tactics to allow the algorithm to re-learn the most efficient way to target those users who clear history but do not opt out of future targeting
  • Build testing with more interest-based targeting segments to evaluate scale and performance in advance of the rollout
  • Incorporate Lookalike audiences based on CRM lists into media plans to identify likely customers, regardless of their use of the Off-Facebook Activity offering
  • At rollout, monitor off-Facebook targeting segments closely to evaluate performance and scale
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