Facebook Disables Employer Targeting, And B2B Marketers Must Adapt

Facebook’s decision to disable segments around self-reported user information, including employers, won’t significantly change the amount of spend the platform gets from B2B marketers, according to numerous agency sources.

Facebook disabled targeting around self-reported segments after ProPublica revealed Thursday that advertisers can target users with anti-Semitic and derogatory terms. The ban includes employer and education segments, as Facebook users can list anyone under those categories without verifying their listed company or school.

But many B2B brands rely on employer-based targeting on Facebook throughout the funnel, said Brittany Richter, head of social at iProspect.

“Employer-based targeting in paid social for B2B advertisers is a critical exclusion tactic,” she said. “Facebook is where the savviest B2B marketers are spending.”

Facebook’s employer segment is important for marketers building account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns because it offers more robust information and scale than other platforms, said Ian Dahlman, VP of search and analytics at B2B agency Gyro.

“We have a significant client base that is using that [employer] targeting segment,” he said. “It may eliminate people from being able to target on Facebook, or at least achieve the goals they set out to achieve.”

But Facebook is still an effective platform for B2B marketers – B2B marketers can also segment based on job titles, business size and fields – so most agencies will continue spending on the platform.

Digital agency Neo@Ogilvy, for example, will continue to target against Facebook’s interest-based and behavioral segments to reach people in areas outside of job function or industry. It will also bring verified third-party data segments to the mix to validate Facebook segments against legitimate companies and job titles.

“When it comes to B2B specific segments, we’re going to take a step back,” said David DeStefano, supervisor of social at Neo@Ogilvy’s Social Lab. “But we’re not pausing all Facebook segments. We can easily pivot spend.”

IProspect will target people who expressed interest in employer groups and pages to find scale among its audiences in a brand-safe way, and Gyro will continue to leverage Facebook’s B2B segments, minus employers, until Facebook finds a fix.

“If we’re able to test the employer interests and employer groups, and if they are effective and have scale, I don’t see us shifting budgets,” Richter said.

For Facebook, the issue may be a quick fix. Dahlman says Facebook can monitor the issue by putting the in-question segments under a 24-hour human review period before launching them on the platform.

“If Facebook doesn’t have that structure built, they can adapt pretty quickly to be able to do that,” Dahlman said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets remedied this week.”

And because Facebook offers far more targeting options, scale and ad formats than pure-play B2B platforms like LinkedIn, there really isn’t an alternative platform that will reap major benefits from Facebook’s issue.

“The interactions on LinkedIn are more forced, and on Facebook you get a more natural interaction,” Dahlman said. “When you’re at home with your kids and have your iPad open, you might still be consuming work content. On Facebook we can target those people more effectively.”

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  1. This article is helpful, but is wrong on one crucial point: You CANNOT target based on Job Titles any more. That is the biggest single impact of this new policy. I have a large number of B2B clients, and this affects me very drastically.

  2. Hi Trey, we have the same issue. About 80% of our clients are in the recruitment sector. We use these segments to target potential new employers to do online applications. For us this change is extremely impactfull.

    You could say we were a sales outlet for Facebook showing (with a lot of effort) the positive impact Facebook could give. Now, without any notice Facebook turns us (and all our effort and investments) down.

    Is there any news when a fix might come if any to go back to 'normal' while these racial questions are fixed? We hypothised that maybe Facebook is using this to make a different advertising portal for the recruitment segment using different pricing considering...

  3. This has been a problem for b2b businesses since Facebook disabled employer targeting. Have you seen any working solution for this? And any new fix coming up from Facebook?

  4. Yes, the update has lowered the reach on the B2B market. But if we use Linkedin that will be better for B2B marketing, but the main problem is that the Linkedin ads are expensive. But if one target nicely the results are good. Our business is mainly B2b business and the Linkedin ads works nicely for us. But we also can use twitter targeting.

  5. I think they are building exclusive targeting mechanics for b2b marketing campaigns. Lets wait and watch.

  6. We hypothised that maybe Facebook is using this to make a different advertising portal for the recruitment segment using different pricing considering...Have you seen any working solution for this?

  7. Don't know what is Fb is doing but one thing is clear that now Fb is more focused on money insted of organic reach.

  8. I think they are building exclusive targeting mechanics for b2b marketing campaigns. Lets wait and watch.


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