Facebook will no longer link a user’s Facebook and Instagram accounts for advertising purposes without an opt-in
From Monday, users who do not explicitly link their Facebook and Instagram accounts in the Facebook Account Center will be treated as two separate people.
The privacy-focused course correction could affect the measurement and estimates of audience reach for advertisers.
In the past, Facebook served ads to a user’s Facebook and Instagram accounts based on assumptions linking one account to another. Users are unlikely to realize this is happening.
For example, if the same email address controlled a Facebook and Instagram account, the two would be linked internally and considered a single user for ad planning and measurement purposes.
Now only users who connect their main Facebook and Instagram accounts in Account Center as a single person will be considered the same user.
It makes sense that Facebook is starting to proactively honor this choice for advertising purposes rather than ultimately being called upon to link accounts without the user’s knowledge.
Facebook set the stage for this change in September when it rolled out a single sign-on hub called Accounts Center, which lets users manage their settings across all apps. Users who link their accounts in Account Center, for example, can more easily share stories and posts between Facebook and Instagram.
When Accounts Center first launched, its stated goal was to make Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger more interoperable for users.
Now Facebook will start using Account Center preferences – such as whether its app family’s accounts are linked or not – to inform metrics used by advertisers for campaign planning and measurement.
In a blog post, Graham Mudd, vice president of product marketing for Facebook Ads, wrote that the update “aligns with trends of giving people more control over how their information is displayed. used for advertisements and is consistent with evolving advertising, privacy and regulatory environments ”.
Facebook said advertisers are unlikely to have too much of an impact on the reach of their campaign. But Mudd noted that segregating unrelated account holders for advertising purposes could cause advertisers to see their pre-campaign estimates increase, including estimated audience size.
Speaking of estimated audience size, last week Facebook announced its intention to display a range rather than a specific number when showing advertisers the potential reach of a campaign. Facebook also renamed its measure from “potential reach” to “estimated audience size”.
The move was in part aimed at creating more consistency between Facebook and the way other platforms in the advertising industry present their reach estimates, but it was likely also related to an ongoing lawsuit over how Facebook calculates the potential scope.
And while there is an impact on estimated audience size from Facebook not counting unrelated accounts as one person, Facebook’s decision to share a range rather than an exact number means advertisers will not be able to complain if there is variability in the accounts.