Facebook Advertising Update: Targeting Users Under 18

Hayley WarackVP, Digital Strategy & InnovationOctober 28, 2021
Facebook Targeting Students Under 18

2021 has been the year of all thing’s user privacy. From Apple’s iOS 14.5 update in April requiring that apps ask end users to approve being tracked and sharing their data, to Facebook’s response shortly after providing less visibility to demographic insights and adjusting conversion windows standards—it’s been a crazy year for digital marketers. Now with Facebook’s March update limiting how advertisers can target and reach users who are under 18, many EDU marketers are needing to adjust their strategies again while also planning for a future where reaching users via digital ads (especially minors) will continue to become more and more challenging.

Facebook’s update

Effective August 23, 2021, Facebook is restricting how advertisers are able to target users under 18 globally on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger networks. This updates prevents advertisers from using many common targeting tactics such as detailed targeting (interest and behaviors, lookalike targeting, and custom audiences through website retargeting and email list targeting). Facebook said this update was put in place to support youth advocates in their stance that minors may not be equipped to make decisions on how their data is shared. In order to reach users under 18 via advertising, advertising can now only leverage demographic targeting including location, age, and gender.

Addressing the impact

For those EDU marketers who are focused on the under 18 prospective student population, you’ve likely seen an ongoing decrease in audience sizes and potential reach with the updates over the last year. At RNL, we can shifting to leverage more location, age, and gender targeting, while also leveraging Facebook’s Targeting Expansion option when possible. We’re also supplementing Facebook/Instagram advertising with other advertising channels (YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Spotify, and more) and non-advertising marketing strategies aimed at generating awareness, engagement, and inquiry generation.

What’s Next?

In regard to reaching minors on various digital mediums, many channels and platforms are likely to follow Facebook’s lead (if they haven’t already). Precise audience segmentation and personalization is becoming a thing of the past, as user privacy becomes top priority across the digital marketing industry.

  • There is now a need to focus on broader targeting as we become limited to how we identify and reach users based on specific demographics and online behaviors. Marketers will need to shift to target users using base demographics and first-party data.
  • There is also a need to look outside of digital advertising. We’re seeing a higher focus on search engine optimization (SEO) to reach users while they are searching. We’re also seeing a shift back to traditional advertising in some use cases.
  • There is need to evolve how to measure success as reliance on pixel-based tracking will likely become obsolete. Marketers will now need to rely on attribution modeling and their CRM more than they ever have before.

Do you want to talk to a digital expert on how to best adapt your marketing and recruitment strategies? Contact us today and we’ll setup a time to talk.

Talk with our digital and enrollment experts

We’re to help you find the right digital marketing and recruitment strategies. Let’s set up a time to talk.

Contact us

About the Author

Hayley Warack is an expert in creating dynamic advertising strategies and integrating engaging storytelling and content in digital strategies. Hayley has been in the digital marketing world for over 10 years, with the last five years...

Read more about Hayley's experience and expertise

Reach Hayley by e-mail at Hayley.Warack@ruffalonl.com.

Read More Blogs By: Hayley Warak