Facebook to replace Exclude Categories with new brand safety ad filters

By the end of May, the Excluded Category options for Audience Network, Instant Article and in-stream video ads will be replaced with the new Inventory Filters, giving marketers streamlined control over content associated with their ads.

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Facebook Brand Safety Controls V2 Cropped
Facebook rolled out new brand safety inventory filters for Audience Network, Instant Articles and in-stream videos ads on Wednesday. The new filters — which include “Limited,” “Standard” and “Full” inventory options — will replace Facebook’s five exclusion categories: Debatable Social Issues, Mature, Tragedy and Conflict, Dating and Gambling. (In-stream video ads only had access to the Mature, Tragedy and Conflict, and Debatable Social Issues, while all five categories were available for Audience Network and Instant Article ads.)

“We are transitioning advertisers to the inventory filter over the coming weeks and plan to have the tool fully up and running by the end of May,” said a Facebook spokesperson, “We found that advertisers who used our category controls would tend to exclude all categories or none of them. This product change aligns with that behavior, helping to simplify the experience.”

How it works. Facebook’s new ad inventory filters come with three different options for Audience Network, Instant Articles and in-stream video ad campaigns:

  • Limited Inventory, which offers maximum protection.
  • Standard Inventory, which offers moderate protection and is the default choice when placing ads.
  • Full Inventory, which involves “minimal” protection with ads delivered to all eligible content.

To give more context to how the filters work, Facebook said ads with the “Limited Inventory” option would not be placed by content where there is strong language, but the “Standard Inventory” filter means there could be a few instances of strong language — or the “Full Inventory” where there is no protection from ads showing up in content with multiple instances of strong language.

Streamlined process, but at a cost. The ad inventory filters from Facebook could be seen as a way to help advertisers streamline their brand safety processes, but, by taking away the exclusion categories, brands are losing more control over the types of content they don’t want their ads to run alongside.

If things go according to Facebook’s schedule, advertisers will no longer have the option to exclude ads from the five specified categories by the end of next month. This could prove frustrating for advertisers wanting to control the content topic areas they want to exclude. For example, a brand may want to keep their ads away from content connected to Debatable Social Issues, but don’t mind if an ad shows up next to Gambling or Dating content.

Once the exclusion categories have been fully replaced by the inventory filters, selecting specific content areas to exclude will not be an option.

A good first step. Oliver Yonchev, the U.S. managing director said he still considers the new filters a step in the right direction.

“Social media channels have a responsibility to act to safeguard users. In a place where ideas should float freely, this can be a difficult task, so Facebook’s new brand safety measures are a smart introduction.”

Yonchev notes the added level of security the new filters will offer video advertisers on the platform.

“Facebook is increasing its programmatic offering and incentivizing creators to develop more long-form videos so it can provide more ad placements. It is taking the right steps to protect advertisers and provide them with more confidence that their ads won’t be shown amongst harmful content.”

Why you should care. While Facebook’s new brand safety inventory filters offers flexibility as far as protection levels, there is the loss of entire exclusion categories. For marketers wanting a broad swipe to remove ads from all questionable content — the new “Limited Inventory” filter is a good thing. But, for marketers wanting more control around the actual content topics where there ads may appear will not longer have that option. In fact, according to Facebook’s Excluded Categories page, the option may already be gone for some advertisers.

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

About the author

Amy Gesenhues
Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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