Category Archives: Martino Flynn

Facebook’s Changing AD Platform

In 2016, ProPublica reported that Facebook’s targeting tool was being used to discriminate against minority groups by allowing advertisers to conceal housing ads from users based on an “ethnic affinity” category.   


In response, Facebook took little initial action, but pledged to no longer allow advertisers to target by the “ethnic affinities” category when posting ads for housing, credit or employment.

A larger consequence was a nearly two-year-long probe by Washington State into Facebook’s micro-targeting tools, which were being used by some advertisers to conceal housing ads from users in minority groups and to limit job postings seen by users in certain age brackets.  In 2018, the state’s case settled with Facebook legally pledging to not allow advertisers to exclude people on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and other protected categories.

The most recent settlement reached this March, which concluded cases brought by various fair housing groups, promises to bring about extensive changes to Facebook’s advertising platform.

What’s changing?

  • Limited targeting—housing, employment, and credit ads can no longer be targeted by age, gender, or zip code.
  • New ad platform—Facebook will create a new advertising portal that housing, employment, and credit companies must use by the end of 2019. Targeting categories will be severely limited, as will the categories available for building Facebook Lookalike Audiences.
  • New housing tool—Facebook will build out a tool that will allow users to view housing ads anywhere in the U.S., regardless of targeting.
  • All of the above will also apply to Instagram.

Does it apply to me?

This applies to anyone posting ads for housing, employment, or credit/loans. Advertisers posting ads for any of these categories will face stricter restrictions and will find themselves on an entirely new platform by the end of 2019. Targeting users by age, gender, zip code, or other categories covered by anti-discrimination laws will no longer be allowed.


How can I prepare?

  • Prioritize compliance checks to ensure ads are not violating civil rights laws.
  • Create paid content that focuses on thought leadership and advice, as opposed to promotions, which can appear predatory.
  • Shift efforts away from demographic targeting and toward interests and behavior targeting, avoiding “multicultural affinity” audiences.
  • Consider retargeting campaigns to grow your assets outside of Facebook.
  • Reevaluate your campaigns to ensure you’re adequately diversified across multiple channels.

We have roughly nine months before any of these changes go into effect, so there is no reason to rush into developing a new social strategy. Take time to reset your goals for paid social and decide how these changes to micro-targeting may impact your ability to raise awareness to your target audiences.


Part Two – How to Be Successful in Social Media: Remember Your Goals

 Like we mentioned in Part 1, Social media marketing will require you to leave your comfort zone and become more transparent and malleable with your content.  You must do this while being strategic and setting marketing goals.

This challenge, to be both proactive as well as reactive, and to set goals while being responsive to the constant changing landscape of social media, is why success in social media is a challenge.

 Social media can reach someone at any point during the buyer’s journey. So, have a goal. Don’t post on social media for the sake of being there. There should be a good mix of content for nurturing, engaging, and informing your audience.

Create unique content for each goal. Nurturing content should be very different from engaging content, etc. And consistency is incredibly important. You should be posting on a regular, predictable basis.

Your content will be affected by current events and breaking stories.  To maintain relevance and stand out amongst your competitors, you must have the flexibility to create new instant content in addition to anything preplanned and scheduled.

Use different tactics & goals for paid social vs. daily content.  Paid ads should drive traffic to your brand and raise awareness. Daily content will nurture and grow your relationship with your existing audience and convert them into brand advocates.

And of course, regardless of your goal or the type of content you’re sharing, your messaging should be on brand. It is important to create a social media brand guide that will determine everything from image sizes, ad design, tone, and guidelines for community issues and negative comments.  If you are targeting distinct audiences on different platforms (moms on Pinterest, millennials on Instagram, etc.) you should create a unique brand guide for each platform.

Other Tips

  • When it comes to the most popular content, video is still king. Messaging should be engaging and short no matter what format you use to present it.
  • Don’t have much money to spend? Consistency & content will grow an organic audience without costing you a cent. Keep to a posting schedule and always be on the lookout for fresh video, photo, and blog ideas. If you are completely new to social, you can use any existing contact list your company already has, such as an email list, to begin building your audience. These lists can be uploaded directly into Facebook, LinkedIn, and other popular platforms.
  • Follow your competitors and take note, but don’t copy them. Brainstorm new unique content ideas instead. It is your content and not your budget that will help your social media campaigns stand out from the rest.
  • Be patient. New social media channels take a few months to build momentum and show results. Launch your social campaigns early and monitor for 60 days or so to build your audience before optimizing or targeting specific audiences.

Resources: network/

Part One – How to Succeed in Social Media

If your client or brand wants to be successful in social media, forget everything you know about traditional media. Social media marketing will require you to leave your comfort zone and become more transparent and malleable with your content.

When you approach social media as a relationship builder and focus on creating connections with brand advocates, a little hard work and a deep dive into audience data will result in a social media campaign that sells itself.

Know where your audience hangs out

This may come as a surprise–but not everyone is on Facebook. However, just because someone is not on Facebook does not mean they don’t use Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Twitter. As social media gets older (if Myspace was still around in its original form it would be taking AP calculus right now) and more social networking platforms are born, the usership of these platforms is becoming more segmented.

The age demographic for Facebook is skewing older every year, while new generations of consumers are finding their happy places on video and messenger apps like Snapchat–a company that never intended to be a social network (Pardes, 2018)– and Marco Polo.

Luckily, there is an endless amount of data out there that will help you pinpoint exactly where your target audience is hanging out. It is not a good strategy to be on every social media platform out there. Find the two or three platforms your demographics frequent and put all your content creation effort and marketing dollars into those platforms.

As with all relationships, it’s not all about you

Social media is a relationship builder. It is where you will find brand advocates: Individuals who will talk about your product with their family and friends, write reviews about your product, post pictures of your product, etc. When you are trying to be successful in social media, the most important promoter you can hire is your own customer.

Remember the Pareto Principle: 20% of your output will yield 80% of your results. That means media platforms should be up to 20% promotional; the remaining 80% should be related to your customers. So, when you are creating content for social media, stop talking about yourself. Talk about them, the people you are trying to reach (Forbes, 2018).

Social media – whether you’re posting or advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Snapchat—is where people go to read about the things they love and speak with the people they care about. You want your product to be one of the things they love, you want your brand to be the someone they care about. They don’t have time or the patience to hear about your brand’s long history. They want to hear about what you can do for them, right this instant, to make their lives better.

Show your human side

 Social media is about transparency. When it does come time to talk about yourself, get personal. Tell your behind-the-scenes brand story. Showcase a real day in the office. Get on Instagram and film a quick story about a recent failure. Working on a new project? Film and post snippets from your meetings. Show people what it takes to put together the products and services they’re using, and they will love you for it.

The Growth of Internet Usage

It is clear to see that people are using the Internet more and more as each day goes by. It is rare to see people without a smartphone in their hand, as it is an accessory that has gone from being a luxury to feeling essential in today’s world. More tasks can be done online, from buying a new pair of shoes to paying your utility bills, so it is obvious that Internet usage is on the rise.

You can access many online services from wherever you are, whether that is on the train going to work or sitting on a beach. WiFi has become an expectation at hotels, cafés and bars and this is because people want to be able to access the Internet around the clock.

The stats shown in the infographic have given us some useful insight into just how far the Internet has come in terms of usage. For example, Google now records over 3.5 billion searches per day and we are seeing functions like voice search surge in popularity. There are now over a billion voice searches per month, with this figure expected to increase significantly over the next 12 months.

Social media has become so popular that many people now wake up and the first thing that they do is check their social media accounts. Facebook alone has 2.2 billion monthly active users and there are now more than 3.1 billion social media users, an increase of 13% since 2017. YouTube is another platform that has seen huge increases in usage, with more than 1.5 billion users now using the site to view or upload videos. This increase in Internet usage is showing no signs of slowing down, and the stats for 2019 will no doubt reflect this.


Find The Balance In Marketing to Moms

It’s often said that being a Mom is the toughest job in the world. How can you be a “present” caregiver for your children—and still find the time and energy to nurture your own needs and career, so you can provide the best for them?

Research indicates that when Moms try to do both, they often get caught in the middle.  This affects how they feel about brands—and how and where those brands market to them. Mintel* recently released a study about marketing to Moms that sheds light on how they see their role. Many of the feelings Moms expressed seem contradictory on the surface, so a closer look is necessary to reveal the insights for marketers. Here’s the upshot:


They know technology is pervasive, and it’s not going away. They know their kids will need to understand technology—and are likely to embrace any tech product that aids in learning and development.


They read the news—so they know the dangers for kids in the digital world, and they don’t want their kids engrossed in screens all day. Products or activities that get kids outdoors or moving around can help Moms provide that balance for their kids.


Moms love it for their sakes. A strong majority (71%) say they visit Facebook every day. Social media is a great way to connect with other Moms, get recommendations for kid-friendly products and services, and solicit advice from their peers. Therefore, it’s also a great way to deliver your marketing message.


Moms fear it for their kids’ sakes. They’re worried about social-media addiction, and who their kids might meet on social-media platforms. Their desire to protect their kids may affect household decisions about allowing more technology and social media into the home.


More than half of working Moms said they’d prefer to be full-time, stay-at-home parents. Many working Moms (43%) said they feel the need to justify their decision to go to work. So any product or service that saves them time, allowing them to spend more with their kids, will likely find enthusiastic acceptance.


Here’s the flip side: nearly a third of stay-at-home Moms said they’d rather work outside the home, and nearly half of those say they feel the need to justify their decision to stay home. Brands that help them meet their own needs and feel engaged in the outside world will resonate with these Moms.


More than three-quarters of Moms surveyed said their finances are “healthy” or “OK.” This is good news for marketers who are fighting for this coveted group’s share of wallet. Digital advertising’s ability to finely target Moms—with just the right message at the right time on the right platform—is key to maximizing marketing success.



While most Moms say they’re OK financially, only a third say that they have enough to pay for all the activities their kids want to engage in. They can pay bills and make ends meet, but they’re also making compromises as compared to what they’d like to do for their kids. Marketers of kid-focused activities have to really up their game to make sure that they’re one of the chosen few.

When yes is no and up is down, what’s a marketer to do? Research. Analyze. Discover insights. Plan your strategy. Finely tune your targets. Execute the plan. Measure. Tweak the plan based on your results. Redeploy.

Branding and marketing are no longer “set it and forget it.” It’s a process that’s constantly evolving. Marketers that remain open-minded and agile will find the most success marketing to moms. The reward is the ability to reach this coveted audience of Moms with your message—helping make their lives a little easier, and your campaigns more effective.


*Source: Mintel, Marketing to Moms, U.S., October 2018.