Special Ad Category

Facebook is committed to protecting people from discrimination, and we are continually improving our ability to detect and deter potential abuse. It’s already against our policies to discriminate by wrongfully targeting or excluding specific groups of people. As part of a historic settlement agreement, we are making changes to the way we manage housing, employment and credit ads.

We created Special Ad Categories: housing, employment and credit. Advertisers offering ads in these areas have limited targeting and audience selections, so we are rolling out these updates to our API:

Changes are live on the API. All advertisers using the Marketing API are affected. Learn more about the enforcement of the new rules.

Key changes and dates to note:

  • December 4, 2019: By this date, businesses located in the US or targeting users in the US will be required to identify new and edited ad campaigns that offer housing, employment, or credit opportunities, or their ads will not be allowed to run. Businesses must specify a Special Ad Category and use the limited audience criteria available for Special Ad Category campaigns. This applies across all ad buying surfaces, including the Marketing API.
  • February 11, 2020: By this date, businesses located in the US or targeting users in the US will be required to identify any active campaigns that belong to a Special Ad Category and update the targeting settings for such campaigns, or these ads will no longer be allowed to run. This applies to all campaigns that were created or edited before Dec. 4, 2019 across all ad buying surfaces, including through the Marketing API.
  • March 31, 2020: By this date, all businesses using the Marketing API must identify whether or not new and edited campaigns belong to a Special Ad Category and update their targeting settings to comply with restrictions for Special Ad Category campaigns, or their ads will not be allowed to run. Businesses whose ads do not offer housing, employment or credit opportunities will have to indicate ‘NONE’ in the Special Ad Category field for all campaigns through the Marketing API.

If using Marketing API v5.0 or above, the Special Ad Category field is required for all ads, whether offering housing, employment or credit opportunities or not.

Learn more about enforcement.

Ad Campaign Changes

All advertisers must specify a special_ad_category for advertising campaigns that market housing, employment, and credit. In doing so, the set of targeting options available for ads in these campaigns will be restricted.

The special_ad_category should be one of the following:

  • HOUSING
  • CREDIT
  • EMPLOYMENT
  • NONE

Existing campaigns are assigned a default value of NONE under special_ad_category. Learn more about Special Ad Categories in the Ads Help Center.

Transition current campaigns

All current campaigns are assigned a default of NONE to special_ad_category. If you run ads in a Special Ad Category, you need to update that. There are two ways to do it:

  1. Recreate your campaign and specify special_ad_category. See Create a new campaign for details.

  2. Update your targeting settings and change your special_ad_category:

  • You must update your targeting settings to comply with Special Ad Category restrictions. You can do this manually, using our usual targeting end points. Or you can specify a tune_for_category field at the Ad Set level. If you use tune_for_category, you are immediately compliant with the new restrictions:
curl -i -X POST \
  -F 'tune_for_category=EMPLOYMENT'
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/<ADSET_ID>  
  • After the targeting is updated, request a change in your special_ad_category with a POST request to /<AD_CAMPAIGN_ID>. Include your category information:
curl -i -X POST \
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/<AD_CAMPAIGN_ID>?special_ad_category=EMPLOYMENT  

Tune for category

When you tune_for_category, this is what happens to your ad campaign and ad sets:

For Audiences
Kept FeaturesRemoved Features
  • Custom Audience Inclusion
  • Custom Audience Exclusion
  • Special Ad Audience Inclusion
  • Saved Audiences
  • Lookalike Audiences
  • Special Ad Audience Exclusion
For Targeting
Updated FeaturesRemoved Features
  • Custom Age: Changed to default value 18-65+.
  • Location Radius: Changes the location radius to 15 miles or 25km, depending on targeting spec.
  • Gender Selection: Changes to all genders.
  • Detailed Targeting Selection
  • Location Exclusion
  • Detailed Targeting Exclusion
  • Detailed Targeting Expansion
  • Interest Exclusion
  • Certain Interest Inclusions
  • Bid Multipliers
  • Location Selection

Create a new campaign

To create an Ad Campaign with a special_ad_category, follow the standard campaign creation flow and add special_ad_category. Here is an example:

curl -X POST \
  -F 'name="My special category campaign"' \
  -F 'objective="LINK_CLICKS"' \
  -F 'status="PAUSED"' \
  -F 'access_token=<ACCESS_TOKEN>' \
  -F 'special_ad_category=EMPLOYMENT' \
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/act_<AD_ACCOUNT_ID>/campaigns

To create a campaign with NONE as special_ad_category:

curl -X POST \
  -F 'name="My campaign"' \
  -F 'objective="LINK_CLICKS"' \
  -F 'status="PAUSED"' \
  -F 'access_token=<ACCESS_TOKEN>' \
  -F 'special_ad_category=NONE' \
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/act_<AD_ACCOUNT_ID>/campaigns
Reference: Campaign

Ad Set and Ad level Changes

Advertisers running housing, employment and credit ads, who are based in the United States or running ads targeted to the United States have the following limitations on the Ad Set and Ad levels:

Targeting and Audience Changes

Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities, who are based in the United States or running ads targeted to the United States have a limited set of targeting options to choose from. For example, targeting options describing or appearing to relate to protected classes which may include demographics, behaviors or interests, are unavailable.

These are the restrictions:

Age

Age cannot be targeted. You have two options:

  1. Recommended: Do not specify age parameters.
  2. Set age to the default values: age_min defaults to 18 and age_max defaults to 65+.

Gender

Specific gender cannot be targeted. You have two options:

  1. Recommended: Do not specify genders parameters.
  2. Set genders to default values: genders defaults to all genders.

Location Targeting

  • Location exclusion is not supported.
  • Location selection must include all areas equal or larger than 15 mile or 25 kilometer radius of any selected city, address or dropped pin.
  • The following location categories are not supported:
    • subcity
    • neighborhood
    • metro_area
    • small_geo_area
    • subneighborhood
    • electoral_district
    • zips

Detailed Targeting

  • The following Interest Targeting options are not permitted:
    • Behavior and Demographic targeting
    • Interest exclusion
    • Excluding detailed targeting selections
  • Supported targeting interests have to be part of a previously approved list. You will be able to search this list in the future with our Targeting Search.
  • Interest Expansion is disabled.

Lookalike Audiences:

Unavailable. To reach new people, create a Special Ad Audience.

Reference: Ad Set

Enforcing new limitations

If using Marketing API v5.0 or above, the Special Ad Category field is required for all ads, whether offering housing, employment or credit opportunities or not by specifying NONE under special_ad_category.

By December 4, 2019, businesses located in the US or targeting users in the US will be required to identify new and edited ad campaigns that offer housing, employment, or credit opportunities, or their ads will not be allowed to run. By this date, businesses located in the US or targeting users in the US must specify a special_ad_category for new and edited campaigns and use the limited audience criteria available for such campaigns. This applies across all ad buying surfaces, including the Marketing API.

February 11, 2020 is the milestone for active ads offering housing, employment, or credit opportunities.

March 31, 2020 is the milestone for all new and edited ads using the Marketing API, including all businesses that do not offer housing, employment or credit opportunities, which must specify NONE under special_ad_category.

In addition to requiring advertisers to self-identify their campaign category, we continue using human reviewers and machine-learning to identify these kinds of ads. If you send us an incorrect special_ad_category, there is a risk your ads will be paused until the campaign is adjusted.

If you select HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT, or CREDIT as special_ad_category, all targeting restrictions will be enforced with a hard error.

Special Ad Audiences

Advertisers running housing, employment and credit ads do not have access to Lookalike Audiences. Instead they can create a Special Ad Audiences which will have more restrictions in terms of the factors that will be considered.

Create a Special Ad Audience

Create a new audience with a POST request to /act_<AD_ACCOUNT_ID>/customaudiences. subtype should be set to REGULATED_CATEGORIES_AUDIENCE.

curl -X POST \
  -F 'origin_audience_id=<SEED_AUDIENCE_ID>' \
  -F 'subtype=REGULATED_CATEGORIES_AUDIENCE'
  -F 'regulated_audience_spec={"country": "US", "ratio": 0.1}' \
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/act_<AD_ACCOUNT_ID>/customaudiences

Load your Special Ad Audience with a GET request. Specify the information you want under fields:

curl -X GET \
  -d 'fields=regulated_audience_spec'
  https://graph.facebook.com/<API_VERSION>/<AUDIENCE_ID>

Your results look like this:

"regulated_audience_spec": {
  "country": "US",
  "origin": [
    {
      "id": "<SEED_AUDIENCE_ID>",
      "name": "My Seed Audience",
      "type": "custom_audience"
    }
  ],
  "ratio": 0.05,
  "type": "custom_ratio",
  "target_country_names": [
    "United States"
  ]
}
Reference: Ad SetReference: Ad Campaign

Troubleshoot Special Ad Category

In Marketing API v3.2, we introduced a new ads run status where a campaign, ad set, or ad can be set to WITH_ISSUES, if it can't be delivered for any reason. When reading an object, you can dig into WITH_ISSUES to troubleshoot any problems with that object.

A call to an object with "effective_status": "WITH_ISSUES" returns a field called issues_info, with information related to the issues found. While working with Special Ad Category, you may see the following issues:

error_codeerror_messageerror_summary

2446177

Custom Age Selection Is Not Available

Custom age selection is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please update your audience to includes ages 18 - 65+.

2446195

Saved Audiences Are Not Available

Using Saved Audiences is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove all selected Saved Audiences.

2446201

Lookalike Audiences Are Not Available

Using Lookalike Audiences is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove all selected Lookalike Audiences. To reach new people, you may create a Special Ad Audience.

2446184

Location Radius Selection Is Not Available

{category} is an unavailable location radius selection when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please select a location radius larger than 15 miles from your custom location.

2446188

Detailed Targeting Selection Not Available

The detailed targeting selection {name} ({id}) is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove this targeting selection.

2446186

Location Exclusion Is Not Available

Excluding specific locations is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove all location exclusions.

2446171

Custom Gender Selection Is Not Available

Custom gender selection is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please update your audience to include all genders

2446183

Location Selection Is Not Available

{category} is an unavailable selection when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove this location selection. All location selections must include a minimum 15-mile radius from any selected city, address or custom location. ZIP code selection is unavailable.

2446190

Detailed Targeting Exclusion Is Not Available

Excluding any behaviors, demographics or interests is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove all detailed targeting exclusions.

2446200

Targeting Expansion Is Not Available

Using Targeting Expansion is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove your Targeting Expansion selection.

2446189

Interest Selection Is Not Available

The detailed targeting selection {category} is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove this targeting selection.

2446268

Cannot Use Bid Multipliers

You cannot use bid multipliers under a Special Ad Category.

2446207

Excluding Certain Audiences Is Not Available

Excluding Lookalike audiences and Special Ad Audiences is unavailable when running ads in this Special Ad Category. To resolve this issue and finish creating your campaign, please remove all Lookalike audience and Special Ad Audience exclusions.

For help reading warning and errors see our developer blog post about the subject.