This is significant. Many large companies (Fortune 100 type) have their own data sets on customers and potential customers and audiences they’d like to target. They’ve been able to combine that data with Facebook’s or Twitter’s own user data in incredibly effective (and cheap!) marketing campaigns tied to email newsletters and website promotions. None of that really changes here.
What does change is the democratization of that ability to do intensely targeted marketing for smaller companies and groups. Many of my clients, for instance, are nonprofits and churches operating on shoestring budgets but aware of the incredible reach that Facebook provides. Part of that reach had to do with Facebook’s Partner Categories program that allowed for companies or groups to use customer data with 3rd party data sources (Experian, for example) for campaigns at a reasonable cost. That aspect goes away now.
This third data set is primarily helpful to advertisers who might not have their own customer data, like small businesses or consumer packaged goods companies that sell their products through brick-and-mortar retailers.
It’s a good move for many reasons and I expect to see many social outlets follow suit (Twitter, for example). However, it does make the playing field that much more complicated for smaller businesses or groups that don’t have the ability to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on customer surveys and data collections.
This multi-device, multi-channel world that we’re living in presents tremendous opportunity, but the reality is that connecting these experiences is still very challenging. Especially on a budget.