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Notice: Facebook (Meta) Special Ad Audiences Are Being Removed

What Meta's recent changes to ad audiences means for BuyerBridge partners.

As of September 13th, 2022, we have removed Special Ad Audiences from all campaigns in the BuyerBridge Playbook Library in order to ensure Playbooks deploy to Facebook (Meta) correctly. All Playbooks will now use Open/Broad Audience Targeting until further notice. Learn more here.

Facebook (Meta) is in the process of deprecating Special Ad Audiences to all advertisers, in response to a settlement agreement reached between Facebook and HUD about user privacy (read more). 

Special Ad Audiences are prospecting-focused “Lookalike audiences” that are specific to the HEC (Housing, Employment, and Credit) ads category on Facebook. 

This discontinuation is currently being released in stages:

  • August 25, 2022 - Facebook began removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences in Ads Manager.
  • September 13, 2022 - Facebook will deprecate the endpoints used to create Special Ad Audiences via API.
  • October 12, 2022 - Facebook will pause any Ad Sets that contain Special Ad Audiences.

Note: The deprecation of Special Ad Audiences has no impact on creating new or using a Custom Audience (audiences comprised of a client’s 1st party data, such as customer or lead lists). 

We can confirm that as of August 26th, Facebook has in fact begun rolling out the changes within Ads Manager so that it is not possible to create new Special Ad Audiences. 

Screenshot of alert inside of Facebook Ads Manager when reviewing an active ad set using a Special Ad Audience.

Who Uses Special Ad Categories and Audiences?

Automotive dealer clients are required to use Facebook’s Special Ad Category due to leasing and financing options on their website. For any ad that links to a dealer’s website, it likely leverages Special Ad Audiences as a part of BuyerBridge’s recommended ad strategy.

Other examples of industries or campaigns that are considered Special Ad Categories (Housing, Employment, and Credit ads) are loan services, any employment ads, housing repair services, or sale and rental opportunities. 

Screenshot of Special ad category options in Facebook Ads Manager.

How Does This Affect Campaigns Launched Through BuyerBridge?

Nearly all of BuyerBridge’s Playbooks deployed to Facebook and Instagram contain a Special Ad Audience, which are created from Website Custom Audiences and Facebook Engagement audiences to extend advertisers reach of likely in-market auto shoppers.


Our team is already performing comprehensive tests and comparative analyses on alternative strategies below, and will be providing recommendations on next steps for you and your clients well before the October 12th date.

The following strategies have been suggested as Special Ad Audience alternatives:

  1. Open/Broad Audience Targeting
    With Facebook’s advanced algorithm being able to effectively match ads to in-market shoppers, we have the option to leave the targeting “open” (without constraining to Special Ad Audiences) and rely on Facebook’s algorithm.
  2. Interest Targeting
    There are many automotive-focused “Interest” targeting options available within Facebook (e.g. “car dealership”, “used car”, “electric car,” etc). We are testing these to determine their effectiveness.
  3. Oracle Data Cloud (3rd Party) Audience Targeting
    Oracle Data gives advertisers access to 3rd party auto shopper data (POLK / IHS) that can be used on Facebook. With Oracle, you can specifically target in-market shoppers interested in a specific body style or model line, owners of a specific vehicle make/model, plus Visa/Mastercard transactional data (buyers of service, tires, etc). Adding Oracle Data Cloud is an additional fee which requires a commercial agreement with Oracle. Contact thedatahotline@oracle.com for more details.
  4. On-Facebook Destinations
    An On-Facebook Destination is a destination that is within Facebook’s own ecosystem, rather than taking a user to a different website if they click on an ad. On-Facebook Destinations include Messenger, On-Facebook AIA pages, or Lead Forms, and are not restricted by the HEC ads category because by not directing to a dealer’s website, we are not advertising anything credit/finance related.

Thank You & Questions 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work towards discovering the best route to continued success for all of our partners and their clients. We are confident that through this endeavor we will discover valuable new tactics and strategies that will yield even greater results than we were achieving previously! 

If you have questions, please reply back or contact us at support@buyerbridge.com.

Onward and upward!

All the best, The BuyerBridge Team