Facebook Adds New Relationship Status Types, but Not to the Ad Tool

Facebook is rolling out the option for users to set their relationship status to “In a civil union” and “In a domestic partnership”. These types will allow gay couples to more accurately describe their relationship. However, advertisers don’t have the option to target users based on these types, or any other types than “Single”, “In a relationship”, “Engaged”, or “Married”.

Users can change the setting by going Edit Profile, then Featured People, and using the Relationship Status drop-down menu. Not all users have the new options yet, though.

Facebook has been slowly increasing the number of relationship status types. “Widowed” became an option in September 2009, and Facebook has since added “Divorced” and “Separated”, though none of these are targetable through the ad tool. The site recently released statistics that showed that users who are “In a relationship”, “Married”, or “Engaged” are much happier according to the Gross National Happiness index than users with the status “In an open relationship”, “It’s complicated”, or “Widowed”.

The added status types show Facebook’s continued support for the gay community. It released an “It Gets Better” video featuring employees encouraging gay adolescents not to harm themselves, worked with Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to remove hateful content from a Page commemorating victims of anti-gay bullying, and reimburses taxes for gay employees who cover their spouses’ health care costs since the federal government doesn’t recognize their relationships.

Several Facebook Pages and groups had previously been created calling for civil unions and domestic partnerships to be added as relationship status options. By recognizing these types and allowing users to more accurately express themselves, users will feel that their Facebook profile is a natural expression of their identity.

As Facebook adds more relationship status options that aren’t in the ad tool, users will switch to them, decreasing the number of people in the targetable options. This can help advertisers because they won’t be accidentally showing ads to those who aren’t actually in the demographic they’re trying to reach. The new types will hurt advertisers, though, since less users will list targetable options like “Married” or “In a relationship” that may have been close enough to show them relevant ads.

Facebook should consider adding all the available relationship status types as targeting parameters to offer advertisers as much targeting granularity as possible, even if it might slightly complicate the ad tool. This would allow the site to continue providing more accurate options to users without impairing advertisers

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5 Responses to “Facebook Adds New Relationship Status Types, but Not to the Ad Tool”

  1. Kristin says:

    Facebook should consider getting a dislike button. All of my friends are always complaining about only having an “like” button.

  2. Weekly Mashup: Facebook Edition says:

    [...] Facebook Adds New Relationship Status Types, but Not to the Ad Tool Facebook is rolling out the option for users to set their relationship status to “In a civil union” and “In a domestic partnership”. These types will allow gay couples to more accurately describe their relationship. However, advertisers don’t have the option to target users based on these types, or any other types than “Single”, “In a relationship”, “Engaged”, or “Married”. (via @InsideNetwork) [...]

  3. Dan Leveille says:

    If they add that to the ad tool now, the segments would all be too small to even target to. There’s probably only a few hundred people who are listed under that demographic. They’ve had the option for less than a week, and it wasn’t even rolled out to all countries when it first launched.

    The smart thing for them to do is to wait for people to actually list themselves in civil unions or domestic partnerships. In a month or so, then there will probably actually be data to target to.

  4. Josh Constine says:

    @Dan: I agree that there may not be many users with these new relationship types yet, but advertisers can target people from small towns, who like small Pages, and other small niches. I think Facebook should make these relationship types targetable as soon as the roll out is complete.

  5. The latest shit you should know about the internet, social media and why it sometimes sucks to be Australian. | The Social Skinny says:

    [...] Posted by Cara Pring on Mar 5, 2011 in Weekly Update | 0 comments Australia Bump Facebook iPad2 Like TweetShareIt’s that time of the week again where I selflessly spend 10-15 minutes of my own personal time plagiarising everyone else’s social media stories to bring you the very latest news and updates about Facebook and those other networks. Here goes: Facebook adds more relationship status options – just to prove that even zuckers can stay ahead of most governments around the world, facebook has openly acknowledged the importance of catering to everyone, regardless of their sexual proclivity. ‘In a civil union’ and ‘in a domestic partnership’ have been added to the list of relationship status options. It’s being rolled out to everyone but I’ve yet to see it appear for me. Us Aussies tend to get the raw deal when it comes to new facebook features. Might have to speak to zuckers about that one when we next catch up for coffee. Interestingly facebook has a record of supporting the gay community including reimbursing taxes for gay employees who cover their spouses’ health care costs (in USA) since the federal government won’t recognise their relationships. Nice one zuckers. Read more: http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/02/18/relationship-status-types-ad-tool/ [...]

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