Facebook has made yet another move to make their users happier about the ad content they see when they visit the popular site. In an announcement last week, Facebook stated that they will give users the ability to more directly control the ads they see. Facebook's ad preferences tool will let you see why an ad is on your News Feed, and allow you to decide whether you want to keep or remove interests based on the ad.
At the same time though, Facebook also announced that they will allow advertisers to target Facebook users based on the actions the users took on other sites across the web. This is a big move for Facebook, but it is already common practice for other types of display targeting.
How Do We Envision These Changes Playing Out?
For example, I have only recently become more interested in running and working out and I have been browsing websites for new tennis shoes, and reading reviews and blogs. However, I don’t have ‘running’ listed as an interest on my Facebook profile, meaning Facebook would have little clue that this has become a preferred activity or interest of mine.
By having insight into my off-Facebook browsing though, a Facebook advertiser may now know to show me an ad for Nike shoes. When I see the ad, Facebook will highlight the fact that I can alter my profile to include ‘running’ as an interest.
Facebook is prime real estate and they have demographic and interest data that is already unmatched by any other website. With this off-Facebook targeting information, advertisers will have even more confidence in showing users relevant ads.
Ultimately, Facebook aims to generate as much information as possible about each user, even if that requires what some think of as an invasion of privacy: using off-Facebook data and habits to tailor ads on the social network. While that may concern some users, others may think that if Facebook isn't going to to eliminate or reduce the number of ads they see, the advertisements may as well be more relevant.
At least Facebook is now becoming transparent that they will be monitoring your website browsing to better place ads. A means to an end.