Some of the Facebook demographics are gone – what to do?

The third party demographics Facebook advertising was offering are now gone, in the post Cambridge Analytica – post GDPR reality we currently live in, so your carefully refined targeting might not work any more and that is bad news for the results of your hard work.

Word on the street is the online dating industry in particular suffers as targeting around relationship preferences have been wiped out. For most of the clients I have been working with, not having the ability to use some of the demographics turned out to also make an impact.

But there is a way to turn it around – for most industries I believe this solution should work.

  1. Start with custom audiences

Is the Facebook pixel installed on your website and properly working – if not what are you waiting for?! The pixel tracks your website visitors and then pushes your advertising to them when you build a custom audience – similar to the remarketing option from Google AdWords.

You can also upload you email data base and Facebook will match users to their emails and push your advertising message to them – in the idea that a repeat customer is cheaper then a new one. There is one big caveat to this – you need to make sure you are GDPR compliant if you are using Custom audiences, which basically means your privacy policy must clearly state all the ways you will be using customer data, including tailored social media ads or Google remarketing.

You can further refine the pixel activity and create events specific to landing pages so you can further refine your targeting. An option well worth a look when your website caters for varied audiences (for instance home buyers as well as potential tenants, if you are a property agent doing both sales and lets).

  1. Build lookalike audiences

Once Facebook builds a custom audience based on your website traffic, you can build so called “lookalike audiences” – people who have similar behaviours to the ones that have already visited your website. The way it works is Facebook’s algorithm will match new audiences against your current website visitors to give you the most chance for engagement. In my experience lookalike audiences work well and deliver good results, they are fairly easy to set up and push your message to new audiences which share similarities to your current ones.

  1. Continue using the demographics that are still available in a more clever way.

I use lookalike audiences in conjunction with postcode targeting to further refine targeting to match clients’ priorities, but it is well worth having a rummage around to see what other options you can use, bearing in mind that Facebook users enjoy their privacy and you shouldn’t be too pushy or invasive. Just keep an eye on overall results but also stats like ad frequency and negative feedback to make sure your audience enjoys your ads. After all social media is all about emotional responses.

If you want to further read on Facebook targeting, read this post I wrote about advertising local businesses to local audiences. 

Most importantly, if you allow the Facebook Pixel on your website and use custom audiences, your GDPR policy should clearly reflect that and transparently share the way you use data.

Hi, I am Ina, an experienced Marketing Consultant in the Glasgow area. I have over 15 years of experience in delivering marketing campaigns from corporate to agency to startup environments, currently helping local small and medium businesses achieve their marketing potential. 

I currently drive the digital team for a creative agency in Glasgow and have gained valuable experience in delivering strategic plans for a variety of clients. If you would like to ask me a question just drop me a line at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *