Facebook changed its documentation sometime last week to allow advertisers to target any Open Graph actions, we discovered.
Facebook now allows Ads API partners to target users by action, even if the advertiser is not associated with the Open Graph app that created the action. Previously, anyone could target Facebook-created actions read, listen and watch, but only the developer who created a custom Open Graph verb (e.g. drink, visit or run) could target users who took that action.
This latest change to the Open Graph action targeting permissions gives advertisers more options to pinpoint consumers based on their activity on Facebook and with integrated apps. It also means developers do not have exclusivity over the verbs they create. Limiting who can target which actions is not ideal for the platform as a whole, as it could result in land-grab situations where developers try to claim verbs to maintain control over advertising. However, by opening this type of targeting to all advertisers, developers have a clear way to poach users of competing apps.
Facebook’s “Action Specs Targeting” feature is not yet available from the self-serve ad tool. It is in beta for Ads API partners only, but the partners we’ve talked to say they haven’t done much to test the new functionality. They say the documentation is confusing and the number of actions and users taking those actions is not yet at a scale worth targeting. TBG Digital CEO Simon Mansell and AdParlor CEO and Cofounder Hussein Fazal publicly spoke to these issues during one of our Inside Social Apps panels last week.
Much of the future of this type of targeting depends on Ads API partners finding the best uses and requesting improvements. These companies have a very sophisticated understanding of targeting and optimization, and they work with high-spending clients. Their findings could help advance this aspect of Open Graph, but it seems these partners need need further support and incentive from Facebook to invest time and resources toward beta testing it. Making the documentation clearer and not changing it without notifying partners would be the first step.
New Action Spec Targeting Permissions (emphasis ours):
Anybody can target any action, either built-in actions or custom actions, for any app. The currently available built in actions are og:news.reads, og:music.listens and og:video.watches. For example anybody can target the og:music.listens actions created by any application.
Old Action Spec Targeting Permissions (emphasis ours):
Anybody can target built-in actions for any app. For example anybody can target the og:music.listen actions created by any application. Only app developers or advertisers can target custom actions for their app. For example, if you create a “drove” action for your app only you can target users or friends of users who performed this action.