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Latest Facebook updates and changes to ads

Latest Facebook updates and changes to ads

If one thing is certain in the world of social media advertising, it’s this. Social media is a fast-paced industry, and if you’re not paying attention to platform updates, it’s impossible to keep up. To help you stay on top of the latest and greatest Facebook updates

19 min read
Jun 10, 2020

If one thing is certain in the world of social media advertising, it’s this. Social media is a fast-paced industry, and if you’re not paying attention to platform updates, it’s impossible to keep up.

To help you stay on top of the latest and greatest Facebook updates and changes to its algorithm and ad platform (without having to do all the research yourself), we're curating the most important Facebook changes you need to know.

June 2020

Facebook now allows advertising of masks positioned as fashion accessories

On June 10, Facebook published an announcement that it's now allowing advertisers with at least 120 days of advertising history to run ads for non-medical face masks. This is a partial reversal from a temporary March 2020 ban on all ads promoting face masks "to help protect against scams, misleading medical claims, medical supply shortages, inflated prices and hoarding."

So why the change? Facebook says "many health authorities now advise wearing non-medical masks," masks have become a requirement to enter many stores, and that they have seen many businesses start making masks to fulfill the need.

Any advertisement of masks as medical grade is strictly forbidden, for now.

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Facebook testing email marketing tools

Photo credit: AdWeek on behalf of Meg Coffey

A select group of small business and pages have been given access to test email marketing tools from Facebook.

Facebook wants to be the dominant path of reaching new and existing customers and this new product shows they're going to be going outside the realm of advertising offerings to now include other digital marketing solutions.

As reported by AdWeek, the tool as of right now only has the capability to send emails to lists the advertiser provides. So that means it doesn't allow sending emails to, for example, lookalike audiences. This makes sense from the user perspective and we hope to learn more about how Facebook will leverage its user data to make their solution more attractive than traditional email marketing tools. For the moment, it doesn't appear any different or special.

Photo credit: AdWeek on behalf of Meg Coffey

Just like traditional email marketing tools, you will be able to compose the email from Facebook, choose the audience (that you supplied), and track performance.

According to AdWeek, a spokesperson for Facebook said, "We’re testing new email marketing tools with a small number of businesses to help them more efficiently notify their customers of changes to their services and operations. We’re evaluating whether these tools are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it further.

More info to come as we learn more.

May 2020

Facebook will delay enforcing limit on number of ads until 2021

As we previously reported, Facebook is pushing back its decision to limit the number of ads each Page can run at the same time until early 2021.

The purpose of this is to help high volume advertisers not overload the learning phase to the point of being ineffective. The delay of enforcement is to "provide you with more time to adopt ad volume best practices before enforcement begins," according to Facebook.

To help high volume advertisers monitor their ad volume, Facebook suggests taking advantage of both the Ad Volume API and the Learning Phase API.

App installs objective now available for Instagram branded content ads

Advertisers with app install campaigns can now take advantage of branded content ads on Instagram. Any Instagram user can enable Branded Content Tools in their settings and advertisers can partner with them to run branded content ads. Branded content ads can appear to end users as news feed or story ads with a "paid partnership" disclaimer tag.

Instagram branded content ads

Although branded content ads have been around for a while now, this is the first time it's been available to be compatible with the "app installs objective," which presents advertisers with a unique opportunity to take advantage of the novelty of the ad type while it's fresh.

April 2020

Facebook will no longer mandate change to CBO

In an email sent to Facebook partners, Facebook announced they will no longer make it mandatory for Facebook advertisers to use campaign budget optimization (CBO).

"When any product enforcement occurs, we need to ensure advertisers are seeing noticeable value gains in all scenarios. While campaign budget optimization (CBO) does provide noticeable performance & value gains in a majority of scenarios, we know there are some cases where ad set budgets might be valuable to advertisers. For example, the gains that come with using CBO may not be as noticeable when advertisers require fixed delivery to campaign assets (such as creatives or audiences) over performance efficiency. This has led us to decide to provide advertisers flexibility for their buying strategies to best meet their goals."

The main reason was not because there is anything wrong with CBO and it can be a very effective tool to manage budgets more effectively using Facebook's algorithm. But there are some cases where it might not make sense for everyone. This this, Facebook said, "some advertiser scenarios value strict delivery over performance, which is why we are no longer pursuing mandatory enforcement for all advertisers at this time."

At this time, there are no plans to make it mandatory in the future. If you were part of an ad account that was forced to change to CBO, nothing will change to your existing campaigns, and you will now be able to make campaigns with budgets on the ad set level.

March 2020

Facebook changes to require campaign budget optimization (CBO)

Facebook is permanently moving away from setting budgets on the ad set level to campaign budget optimization (CBO), which sets budget on the campaign level.

As a quick overview, CBO means Facebook will automatically distribute campaign budget across your campaign’s ad sets for the best possible results. While Facebook will distribute campaign budget in real-time, advertisers can still select a delivery optimization event for each ad set as well as a daily or lifetime campaign budget amount, bid caps, and spend limits for each ad set.

The purpose of this change is to help advertisers spend budgets more efficiently, reduce the amount of time advertisers spend managing campaigns, simplify campaign management, and avoid spending money on duplicate advertisements.

Facebook’s CBO - image source

This mandatory change was initially supposed to happen in September of 2019, but Facebook has pushed it to as early as February 2020 and all ad accounts will be converted before the end of the year. While Facebook will notify you when your account is scheduled to switch, you can avoid any problems with your campaigns, change your account set up now.

Facebook made an ads platform status tool to monitor outages

With all the bugs and outages with the Facebook Ads Manager lately, Facebook finally added a new ads status page.

The new page lets ad buyers check if there is an issue with the platform and what exactly what areas are being affected.

The purpose of this tool is to provide ad buyers with more transparency about the Facebook Ads Manager platform. Notifications will also include any major changes across the most common metrics: amount spent, impressions, reach, results, and cost per result.

Facebook updates ads reporting tool to make tracking easier

Facebook updated several reporting tools to make it easier for advertisers to measure campaign performance across the board.

New Facebook changes to reports:

  • Cross-account reporting and custom metrics. These tools help you understand campaign performance so you can improve your ad strategy. Metrics, all in one convenient location, include reach, impressions, conversions, and you can track them across multiple ad accounts.
  • Conversion paths. This is a publisher-level conversion path report in Facebook Attribution, and gives you insight into conversion paths, so you can understand what the most frequent conversion paths across channels and devices are. This allows advertisers to identify the most important paths.

These new tools help advertisers get a holistic picture of ad performance.

How the Facebook ad algorithm works in 2020

Image source - Tinuiti

If you want to build a better advertising strategy in 2020, it’s important to understand how the Facebook ad algorithm is changing in 2020. Facebook has announced changes to the algorithm to focus more on friends, a reverse in current trends. How will this affect your Facebook ad performance? Well it might reduce inventory and make increase the cost of Facebook ads.

As a refresher, the Facebook algorithm, based on the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves algorithm, ranks all available posts on the user’s News Feed based on how likely the user will react positively. Facebook decides this based on four factors, including:

  • The inventory of possible posts
  • Signals that tell Facebook what the posts are
  • Predictions on how users will react to a post
  • A final score assigned to content based on these factors

The purpose of following this model is to provide Facebook users with more meaningful interactions, be it from a friend or a brand.

Advertisers have little control over how users interact with friends, but you do have control over the signals of your content, and whether they are passive or active.

Active metrics include any activity that prompts engagement. The more your content promotes meaningful interactions (positive engagement), the better results you will see.

Advertisers that prompt conversations, hone in on the right audience, and carefully track content performance will see better results than advertisers hoping to rely on clickbait or trying to create hype inorganically.

Greg Swan at Tinuiti put together an excellent, succinct guide to understanding how you can take advantage of Facebook's changing algorithm with 5 ways to make your ads more meaningful and get more engagement.

New Facebook update - ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ gives users more control of their data

Facebook recently introduced Off-Facebook Activity, an upcoming feature that allows users more control of the data they share with brands and advertisers.

This looks to be in response to a lot the "creepiness" that has been associated with Facebook ads, such as "Facebook is listening to my conversations" or "Facebook knows more about me than I do myself."

The videos on the page aim to clear up the misconceptions and teach users how Facebook and its advertisers can make their ads so personalized. And if users are still creeped out, Facebook has been updated to allow users to disconnect and clear their activity that is captured off of, such as pixel data.

While Facebook advertisers don’t have any control over whether or not Facebook users decide to clear their activity data, it’s still an important update for advertisers. It may affect the amount of relevant third-party data you are used to getting from Facebook.

Facebook plans to roll out more ad transparency tools

Facebook is making a big push this year to be more transparent and improve users' trust. As such, Facebook is rolling out more tools to help with ad transparency and provide users more control over their ad experiences.

Image source - Facebook

New Facebook updates, according to their blog, include:

  • Updates to its Ad Library that allow users to learn why they are seeing a specific ad as well as increase control of their ad experience
  • Control for users to reduce political, electoral, or social issues ads
  • Control for users to choose how an advertiser can reach them from a Custom Audience list. This will allow users to block advertisers from matching their personal data like an email or phone number to their Facebook profile if they desire.

While these new updates may seem to only favor end users, it may help advertisers to only show ads to those that want to see your ads.

Facebook removes some detailed targeting options

Have you noticed that some of your targeting options have disappeared when creating new campaigns?

As of Jan 14, 2020, new Facebook campaigns don’t have all the same targeting options as old campaigns. And existing campaigns that were not updated by Jan 14, 2020 may have been paused for delivery.

Advertisers can update their ad set by opening Ads Manager, looking to see if Facebook sent a notification about some detailed targeting options being removed, selecting “See Affected Ad Sets” at the top right, editing ads, updating the ads to comply, and then pressing “Confirm and Publish Edits” when prompted

Facebook Ditches Plans To Introduce Ads In WhatsApp

Last year, Facebook announced they would insert ads into the Status updates section in WhatsApp in an effort to help further monetize the platform.

This move was met with heavy criticism and even led to the founders of the app resigning from the company.

According to reporting by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is now abandoning its plans to introduce ads in WhatsApp (so far). The work the development team has done so far on this project has been deleted from the app’s code.

For now, any plans organizations have made to advertise in WhatsApp should be refocused on other high performing social media platforms. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that just because Facebook is tabling this idea now, doesn’t mean they won’t revisit it in the future.

Facebook Sets New Deadlines for Advertisers to Comply with New Requirements for Credit, Housing, and Employment Ads

In March and December last year, Facebook announced changes to ad targeting options for credit, housing, and employment ads to help prevent discrimination. And, as of February 11, some of these changes have already taken place.

All businesses located in the US, or targeting a US audience, are required to identify and update the targeting settings for any campaigns that were created before Dec. 4, 2019, that belong to a Special Ad Category.

And by March 31, advertisers using the API located in the US, or targeting a US audience, will be required to indicate “None” in the Special Ad Category field if not advertising in a special ad category - yes, that means your ads will be turned off if you don’t do this.

For more information about the enforcement of these new rules, refer to Facebook’s detailed explanation.

November 2019

Facebook updates search ads to be available to all advertisers

Facebook is officially now rolling out search ad placement to a broader range of advertisers. These search ads appear in the results for terms that imply any commercial intent. These search ads only currently appear on mobile devices.

Advertisers that are running product sales or conversion-focused campaigns should jump on this new opportunity. Facebook search ads provide advertisers with direct access to searchers that are actively looking for their type of product.

Facebook ads in Facebook search results
Source: Facebook Business News blog

Things to consider about Facebook search ads:

  • Search ads are highly visual, so advertisers should pay special attention to ad image quality.
  • Facebook search ads are currently only available in English and Spanish.
  • If advertisers want their ads to appear in the search results, advertisers can select either “Automatic Placement” for News Feed ads, or “Facebook Search Results” in Ads Manager.
  • Ad targeting is based on the advertiser’s targeting and relevant keywords.
  • Advertisers don't determine keywords. Facebook does. Facebook determines keyword relevancy based on features like ad text, product, category, title, description, etc. This means optimize your ad correctly.

More details about this update are still to be released.

Facebook updates Story ads with ability to start conversations in Messenger

Advertisers can now further engage with users by using Stories ads to strike up conversations on Messenger.

Advertisers can now include the call to action “Send Message” on Stories ads, and the user can swipe up and start a conversation within the Facebook or Instagram app.

Facebook ads in stories
Source: Markting Land

Multiple text options: Facebook's latest ad-testing feature

Some Facebook advertisers can now create several versions of copy, including ad copy, headline copy, and descriptions for single-media ads using the new Multiple Text Options feature. Once the advertiser finalizes the ad copy, Facebook will dynamically serve up a copy combination that delivers the most relevant results.

The pros? Multiple Text Options allows advertisers to test how different copy resonates with diverse audiences. Advertisers can also use the “View more variations” button to see how the various combinations work together before going live.

The caveats? Facebook uses machine learning to control how your ads appear to various audiences, reducing the advertiser's targeting control. Additionally, reporting shows data about overall performance only as opposed to variation details.

Facebook multiple text optimization
Source: Marketing Land

Facebook algorithm in the News tab won’t include ads, but publishers can still monetize content

Facebook has started to test Facebook News, a dedicated place that highlights top news stories. The purpose of Facebook News is to allow users to:

  • Quickly browse through today’s top stories, chosen by a team of journalists
  • Gain more control over the stories they prefer to see
  • Dive deeper into news that is of interest and into various topics
  • Manage and read news from linked paid subscriptions

The new news stories tab will not initially include ads from advertisers. However, the advertiser will still be able to monetize their content when Facebook News publishes articles in the feed.

Facebook News app
Source: Facebook

Facebook is testing ads in the Groups tab

Facebook is testing ad placements in the Groups tab to see whether these ads will provide value for advertisers and users. Based on the testing data, Facebook will decide whether or not to expand ads in Groups, making it available to more advertisers.

Advertisers with access to this feature need to select “Facebook Feed” and “Group Feed” placement options if they want ad placement in relevant Groups.

Facebook ads in the groups tab
Source: Facebook

Facebook testing new photo layouts for multi-image posts

Are you tired of the same old layout for multi-image posts? If so, you'll be pleased to learn that Facebook is in the process of testing different layout options for multi-image posts, according to research by Jane Manchun Wong.

However, time will tell if these options will be available to advertisers.

Facebook changes the maximum number of ads pages can run simultaneously in 2020

Facebook recently announced they will be limiting the number of ads that Pages can run simultaneously starting in mid-2020. Facebook is implementing ad limits because high ad volume can “hinder an advertiser’s performance,” according to Facebook.

Additionally, “with too many ads running at the same time, fewer ads exit the learning phase and more budget is spent before the delivery system can optimize an ad’s performance,” the company said.

What do you think?

As you are planning your upcoming Facebook advertising calendar, keep the previous updates in mind.

As of the beginning of October, you have more opportunities to engage with your target audience on Facebook, and exciting updates to look forward to for the future.

For more updates about Facebook advertising, stay tuned. The team here at Revealbot will continue to provide a quick summary of all the recent updates from Facebook in one convenient blog post.

Earlier in 2018

Facebook advertising in 2018 will be the year we get even more meaningful results from all the AI and ML talk.

Meet smart everything:

Also, remember those location-based ads that everyone talked about a couple years back but barely anyone used? Facebook finally offers a targeting option with actual value: you can remarket directly to users that have been in your offline businesses.

Lastly, Dynamic Product Ads have been expanded to travel and real estate; and ecommerce stores are getting a beautiful new Collections ad format inspired by everyone's "favorite" print catalogues.

Read on for advanced tips on how to get the most out of the new Facebook capabilities and policy changes (jump to our reco on ever more limited organic reach).

Dynamic creative

Testing individual ad elements is now automated

Remember how empowering the split testing feature proved a few months back? Facebook recently an even more powerful option.

Dynamic Creatives lets you do the proper testing of creatives that, we bet, you barely have the time to do manually.

Pick Dynamic Creative when setting up an ad and submit up to 10 images and up to 5 text variations for each element of the ad.

Facebook will find the best performing combination of those elements for your objective and keep that one winning creative running as the final ad.


Conversion optimization

Always optimize for the most efficient objective based on data available

Here's the jist: launch ads with Reach as objective and automatically switch to Conversions as soon as it has enough data.


Why do some brands even need this: Facebook Pixel needs data in order to train itself to be efficient for your audience and website. Which makes it a challenge to use Conversions as ad objective for startups and brands that have only just set up the Pixel — it hasn’t seen many conversions and doesn't "know" yet what types of users will be likely to convert.

So in the ideal world, you’d first launch the ad with Reach as objective, wait for a couple dozen purchases to happen, and then relaunch the same ad — now optimized for Conversions. But something tells me that in most cases you just don’t have the time do that manually.

Starting now, Facebook is beginning to roll out a solution: you can choose both objectives when launching an ad, and Facebook will start by optimizing for Reach. And as soon as your Pixel contains enough data, the optimization objective to Conversions.

Result: No more ads inefficiently optimized for an event that the Pixel has barely seen happen. So higher ROI for you.

Campaign budget optimization

No more checking up on ad sets manually and reallocating budget between them manually — Facebook will soon offer to manage budget between ad sets of one ad campaign according with their performance.


Here's what Facebook adds about the new capability: "In addition to setting a daily or lifetime campaign budget, businesses can set bid caps and spend limits for each ad set."

Multiply DPA reach with broad audiences

You can now find entirely new audiences that would have been unreachable via interest filters or lookalike audiences.

Since recently, Facebook allows you to target users who browsed Facebook pages or even websites of your competitors — i.e. showed interest in your product or category.


This is possible for advertisers with their product catalogue uploaded to Facebook for Dynamic Product Ads (DPA).

Broad Audiences should be especially valuable to startups trying to compete with the behemoths of their industries. Up-and-coming ecommerce stores and travel websites lack the benefit of massive traffic to remarket to via Dynamic Product Ads.

So Broad Audiences will help those small audiences to at least grow the top of the funnel by attracting new cold audiences to the site or at least get engagement from.

Remarket to offline shoppers

You can now remarket to Facebook users that have been in your offline store — based on precise location data gathered by Facebook.

Here's the impressive list of remarketing options you have, based on offline conversion events:

  • offline buyers by connecting your point-of-sale system into Facebook's API; even easier if you're using one of these offline CRM systems: Salesforce, Marketo, Leadsbridge, or Zapier;
  • Facebook event RSVPs and users that have shown interest in an event;
  • now added: offline walk-in shoppers for Business Locations — more info.

CRM systems are all good and brilliant, but they never allowed marketers to retarget offline leads — location-based targeting is our first huge leap towards truly merging offline and online.

Dynamic product ads expanded: travel and real estate

Apart from ecommerce products, you can now remarket website visitors showing them relevant real estate listings, hotels, flights and destinations — in templates tailored for each type of product.

Retarget users by showing them exact listings they viewed or options similar to them.

New ad format for ecommerce: collection ads

And not just ecommerce — the Collection Ads are a mix of a lifestyle image/video and products featured in it.

Many have found a similarity to the good old print catalogues: both are brilliant at giving you a good look at the product and irresistibly conveying the use context via lifestyle imagery.


Low organic reach to be expanded globally

What has so far been beta-launched in a handful of countries (as of Nov 2017) will be rolled out to all businesses over the course of 2018: Facebook News Feed will not show any posts from pages, even if the user is following them.

The only efficient solution that will give your SMM content the same kind of reach as before the update seems to be paid delivery of all your social content, even to your followers.

Only when a social post has reached a basic level of reach (organic or paid) does it make sense to assess its performance and boost it some more if it's getting good engagement.

Now, this is a lot of work, so for the sake of your team's sanity, you might want to consider auto-boosting your content to make sure your content actually gets seen by your followers. Auto-boosting from Revealbot will be here in the coming weeks — let us know if interested in beta-access now!

Earlier in 2017

Retargeting by offline store visits

The day has come when you can finally retarget people who walked into your store and left without making a purchase.

Done via Facebook Ads store visits reporting and optimization, the new feature lets you create a custom audience made up of people whose always-on/when using location has told Facebook they walked into your offline location.


Coupled with targeting by other offline conversion events, like (lack of) offline purchases, you get a powerful new tool for converting those offline leads.

Store visits reporting works based on Business Locations, which you then use in a Custom Audience > Offline Activity.


Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to retarget people who actually visited your store:

Step 1 — create business location(s) for which you want to retarget offline visitors

Not seeing Business Locations in your menu? You might have to apply for Locations first.

Step 2 — if you’re one of the businesses “eligible” for store visits reporting (more below), you should be able to create custom audiences made up of people who recently visited those business locations.
It doesn’t look like all businesses with business locations created have access to offline visits reporting & retargeting yet. And all Facebook recommends is that you contact your Facebook representative if you don’t have access to the feature yet.

Now, the obvious question is, how exactly does Facebook deal with batches of stores located close to one another. All we know is:

  • it uses GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth data when specifically allowed by the user;
  • it also uses "satellite imagery and mapping data from 3rd parties which outlines your building location boundaries;
  • and "filtering out people who we think are employees or who appear to be on the move."

Have you had the chance to use retargeting by offline store visits yet? Let us know in the comments how it worked out for you!

Wait, there's more

Facebook ads costs don't seem to be easing off, and advertisers' total spend is still expected to keep growing at a rate of 20% for the next two years.

So make sure you stay on top of platform updates and keep optimizing your Facebook Ads investments. And a not-so-humble reco from us: we've created an advanced automation tool to help you maximize the efficiency of your ads — see what it can do for you.

About the author
Ashley Cummings
Ashley Cummings
Facebook Ad Expert
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