Facebook prohibits mobile app advertisers from using device-level data

The update underpins Facebook's efforts to contain user data – but it's a concerning signal to advertisers.

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Facebook quietly updated its terms of service for its Advanced Mobile App Measurement program in January, which prohibits mobile app advertisers from receiving device-level (or view-through) data, and can now only measure campaign performance on an “aggregate and anonymous basis.” The change took effect on January 22.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, advertisers already share device-level data with Facebook and mobile measurement partners, which Facebook then matches to ad interaction data. Now, measurement partners are only permitted to share ad interaction data with advertisers at an anonymous, aggregate level.

With the change, Facebook mobile app advertisers can no longer use device-level data for any of the following:

  • To target or retarget ads
  • To redirect with tags
  • To sell to third-parties
  • To inform cross-channel ad campaigns

The updated terms of service explicitly state:

“You will not use any device-level data collected, derived, or obtained from or in connection with Mobile App Ads, including Facebook users’ interaction with a Mobile App Ad (such as information derived from targeting criteria) or any such data received directly from us or through a Facebook-authorized third party mobile measurement partner or other service provider (collectively, “Mobile App Ad Data”) for any purpose (including retargeting, commingling data across multiple advertisers’ campaigns, allowing piggybacking, redirecting with tags, or selling to any third party) other than on an aggregate and anonymous basis to assess the performance and effectiveness of your advertising campaigns delivered on or through the Facebook Products.”

Background context. Device-level data has, until recently, been available to advertisers through Facebook’s Advanced Mobile Measurement program (MPP). The program gave advertisers and measurement partners access to raw data – which included hashed, device-level IDs but no personally identifiable information – that could then be used for more granular ad targeting and measuring.

What to expect. Growing privacy concerns and the potential for misused data is driving Facebook to keep sensitive user data under wraps – and this is yet another example. Mobile app advertisers will not be able to use device ID data that once informed campaign initiatives across Facebook-owned app properties. Advertisers can still use the data anonymously and on an aggregated basis to gauge overall campaign performance. It’s still unclear whether or not advertisers will have access to view device-level data – or if it will be automatically aggregated by the platform for reporting. Facebook has yet to comment.

Why we care. The immediate implications for advertisers are still uncertain, but the move is nonetheless concerning for mobile app advertisers that rely on device-level data for targeting and optimization.

Facebook has proven time and again that its data and ad reporting is flawed, which is why measurement partners are key for enterprise advertisers looking for an independent assessment. With the updated terms, even measurement partners will be barred from sharing device-level data with stakeholders – which includes advertisers.

While it’s a minor change on the mobile app ads front, it lays the groundwork for a bigger push to bring advertisers even deeper into Facebook’s walled garden. Can we trust Facebook to grade its own homework?

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Taylor Peterson
Taylor Peterson was Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. As co-founder of The Sauce, an education hub for content creators and internet entrepreneurs, Taylor's editorial focus blends digital marketing and brand strategy with topics like creative management, emerging formats, and the growing creator economy.

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