Custom audience feature used in Facebook advertising campaigns: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

If any Scottish Government advertising campaigns have made use of Facebook's custom audiences feature in order to target advertising and what data was uploaded to Facebook to create the audience?


The Facebook feature “custom audiences” (definition here) includes “website custom audiences” (i.e. emarketing to those who have visited websites) and “engagement custom audiences” (i.e. remarketing to users who have previously viewed videos etc.) as well as customer lists audiences (i.e. where an audience list is created using data that has been uploaded to the Facebook custom audiences feature).

Website custom audiences and engagement custom audiences are used on a regular basis as part of the Scottish Government’s routine marketing activity across a number of campaign outputs in order to target audiences with specific public information and social marketing messages effectively. This activity is undertaken by the Scottish Government’s appointed media planning and buying agencies under the Media Planning And Buying Services Framework.

The Scottish Government has never activated a Custom Audience List using uploaded data.

On 22 December 2016, (pre-GDPR) Carat report that two custom audiences were created using the Custom Audience features for home energy topic campaigns. None of this data was ever used or taken forward into a campaign. In line with GDPR requirements this data is no longer held. There are no plans to upload or utilise data to create lists using Custom Audience features, and this activity does not and has never formed part of any activated media plan for Scottish Government.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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