Ethical Targeting of Facebook Ads in 2022

Ethical Targeting of Facebook Ads in 2022

Read Time: 4 minutes

After the launch of “The Social Dilemma” and the global scandal that ensued after Cambridge Analytica, many advertisers still hesitate on using Facebook and Facebook Ads for their business. But is that reason enough for you to give up on Facebook Marketing and Facebook Ads completely? No, not really. 

Instead, this could be the very reason, as to why you need to push your business towards more ethical targeting of Facebook Ads, and overall digital ads as such. It would be great to have more transparency in our world, especially with respect to digital advertising, given that people do get influenced by convincing content. 

Hence, the concept of ethical ad targeting can help you keep your brand in the right place, voicing the values and opinions that are  associated with your target audience.

Ethical Targeting of Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads Targeting can also be done ethically.
Facebook Ads Targeting can also be done ethically. Picture taken via Unsplash

Since Facebook has the potential to advertise to 2.14 billion people, it’s not wrong for marketers to include this social media stream in their marketing strategy.

While some businesses use Facebook to effectively introduce or to sell their products and services to their target audience, many others create shareable content. Generally, this content is displayed or shown to those set of users, who are the most favorable and suitable for their business.

Now this kind of content targeting works in two ways. First, some content creators just curate some posts with hopes of getting enough views, profiting them both online and offline. While others use this type of content to commit to a long term strategy.

When they commit to a long term strategy, they curate the content or sometimes even create content which is then displayed to their target audience, quite often. This in turn familiarizes their target audience to their kind of content.

In some unfortunate cases, this kind of content creates a negative impact online in the form of disinformation and misinformation. 

Misinformation is the inaccurate spreading of information that takes place online without the intention to deceive, while, disinformation is the deliberate outspread of false or wrong information, digitally.

This creates groups of audiences who are then exposed to only a certain type of content, and this is where the problem arises.

Here’s where ethical content and ad targeting comes into play. With ethical targeting, marketers can market to the interest of these target consumers without creating these isolated groupings for advertisements. 

Ethical Targeting of Facebook Ads – possible?

While some suggest leaving Facebook altogether, it’s not a great option for a business since it would be losing out on a number of potential consumers. As mentioned earlier, ethical audience targeting can prevent isolation of audience groups basis misinformation and disinformation. This can be done in the following ways.

Show relevant, Interest Based Ads

Show Interest Based Ads for high ROI
Show Interest Based Ads for high ROI

Do you like personalized ads? Well, 71% of respondents from a study said that they do. That does say a lot, doesn’t it? Let’s look at an example. If Emma, who lives in New York and is an ardent shopper, sees an ad of a sale that’s happening near her, she would definitely take a good look at it. Why? Because she likes shopping. 

But if she was shown an ad that was about a new course that she could pursue instead, she’d probably not want to look at it and would scroll past it, almost immediately. 

Here’s the thing about ads. It’s content interrupting some other interesting content that has your target audience glued and hooked. So if Emma was watching a snippet from Friends and was suddenly shown an ad about the course and how it would benefit her, she’s then already waiting for that ad to come to an end. 

And that’s something you don’t want to happen, right?

Use relevant content to your strength while ad targeting. Here you need to keep in mind to not focus on some stereotypes or give in to cultural bias. To avoid that, rather use Interests. Facebook usually asks for the potential interests of your target audience like dancing, different types of music, product interests, etc.

This can help your ad get the right exposure without delving into any unwanted advertisement biases. What are these biases and how do they crop up? Read on…

Avoid Exclusions based on Certain Criteria

Ethical Ad Targeting must be practiced with respect to Exclusions, in Facebook Advertising.
Ethical Ad Targeting must be practiced with respect to Exclusions, in Facebook Advertising

Facebook has particularly voiced it’s concern about this aspect. While targeting ads to an audience who might be interested in your brand’s advertisement and what it has to offer, marketer’s tend to use this tool to remove those set of people who potentially wouldn’t like to see that ad. 

Similar to the previous example, if you as a marketer know that Emma likes information related to sales instead of information about a course, which is however, now your target audience, you would not want to include her interest category, in your ad target category.

The reason being, Emma wouldn’t pay attention to the ad. 

Now while this sounds good, sometimes, targeting can go ethically wrong. Since exclusion targeting also includes categories like race, ethnicity, etc., some ads would be targeted on that basis as well. Yes, that’s ethically wrong and using the “doing my job” logic doesn’t work here. 

Literally, Facebook removed 22.5 million posts related to hate speech. Given the many instances that the world witnessed related to racism, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, Facebook decided to remove these categories from the exclusion list. Simply because, it’s not fair to exclude on these basis.

Additionally, it’s important for marketers to note that while basic categories like gender, occupation, etc. are the key ad targeting categories, that help demarcate whom you’d like as your audience, you need to use it wisely and responsibly. 

Make sure your ad does not contain any bigotry, stereotypes or uses bad language while you target with utmost care. 

Facebook’s response to ethical Ad Targeting

Since Facebook was accused of violating laws against discrimination in the U.S, Facebook then came out with stringent actions against posts or ads related to the same. In addition to the removal of posts, they also released a statement on the limitations in their exclusion category. 

They also remind advertisers of their moral obligation, and laws that they need to abide by in order to create their ad campaigns on the social media platform. You can read more about these changes introduced by Facebook, here

For this, the responsibility lies not only with Facebook, it’s advertisement policy, and it’s stringent checks but also with the digital marketers such that they do their job ethically.

You can also take a look at this Media Monitoring article to understand how you can best monitor all your social media handles with respect to certain keywords.

Conclusion – ethical Ad Targeting on Facebook

Being ethically responsible needs to be an integral part of Facebook Marketing and must be emphasized upon at every step.
Being ethically responsible needs to be an integral part of Facebook Marketing and must be emphasized upon at every step

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that ethical ad targeting is possible if you put your mind and heart to it. Targeting your audience ethically can ensure trust and transparency in your brand, not only from Facebook itself, but also from the current and the future consumers. 

Today brands need to work alongside the constantly evolving ad world while also being inclusive. And this can only be achieved if your business gives priority to these values of being ethical, over all the other aspects. 

Are you ensuring that you are targeting ethically in your Facebook ad targeting? Let us know in the comments below.

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