Meta caves in with new restrictions on targeting teens

youthMeta has bowed to mounting pressure over how advertisers can target youngsters on both Facebook and Instagram, with new measures to restrict brands’ access to teens’ data, although many of the new tools force users to opt-out.

The company claims the changes reflect “research, direct feedback from parents and child developmental experts, UN children’s rights principles and global regulation”, although the latter would seem to be the main driver.

Just last week, Meta was hit with its fifth – and potentially most damaging – GDPR ruling, which will force the company to change the way it collects consumer data for advertising on both Facebook and Instagram.

Meta was also fined €390m (£346m), meaning it has received more than €1.3bn in monetary penalties since GDPR came into force in 2018 – a third of the €3.22bn total.

Meta removed the ability for advertisers to target teens based on their interests and activities in 2021 but from February it will also remove gender as an option for advertisers to reach teens. Additionally, the Instagram posts or Facebook pages they follow will no longer inform the types of ads they see.

The firm says age and location will be the only information about a teen that it will use to show them ads “to ensure teens see ads that are meant for their age and products and services available where they live”.

In addition, from March teens will also have more ways to manage the types of ads they see on Facebook and Instagram with a new tool called “Ad Topic Controls”.

The tool sits in the Ad Preferences section of the Settings folder on both apps, and users will be able to choose “See Less” or “No Preference” to further control the types of ads they see.

Simon Thorne, MD Europe of Flashtalking by Mediaocean, said: “The decision to restrict certain aspects of ad targeting for teens on Facebook and Instagram will have an impact on brands but there are other attributes that can be used to deliver relevant and effective messaging.

“For the last few years, advertisers have had to cope with the effects of data deprecation. This is just another situation of signal loss and savvy brands will not be phased.

“The imperative for advertisers is to develop creative so compelling that ‘super scrolling’ teens will be enticed to engage with the brand.”

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