Over 1.5 billion people use Facebook every day to connect with friends.
Facebook is free to use by 99.99% of its users, but in order to make its money, it exposes you to advertising from over 3 million businesses. I don’t know anybody that visits Facebook just because they want to see ads, yet, we get targeted with advertising one way on the other.
So, you are not alone if you have ever wondered why you see those ads in your newsfeed marked “sponsored” or those sidebar advertising messages on Facebook.
These are samples of some of the adverts on Facebook:
In fact, you might have noticed that you see some adverts in your Facebook timeline that looks like it is targeted specifically towards you. For example,someone wrote about how he created a Facebook Ad experiment specifically for his roommate.
So, the question is “how does Facebook (and the advertisers) know so much about you to send the right adverts to you?”
1. Your user profile.
Firstly, it is important to note that Facebook Inc. must make money in order to make their services free for 99% of their users. Their model is very simple – they use your data to display the right advertising to you.
For example, when you sign up for a Facebook account, some information about you is collected to make your experience better. This includes the information you added to your “about section”, life events, relationship status, family connections, interests, hashtag usage, check-ins, etc. All these help Facebook to improve your personal experience; at the same time, this information is also used to target you with advertisement.
For example, it is actually fascinating to discover that the advertising you see might change when you add certain life events to your Facebook profile. Females who have just become engaged see a startling amount of wedding-related adverts and newlyweds can naturally expect a barrage of baby-related advertising.
2. Interest based targeting and data from partner sites.
Facebook works with third-party partners to track your online behaviour outside Facebook. This is done mostly via cookies that track your online activities on sites that you visit. So, the more Facebook and its partners see you, the better they can categorize you for the advertisers. In essence, the advertising you see will be more tailored for you.
Have you noticed that when you browsed an eCommerce shop, the adverts of the products you viewed will start “following you” when you log on to Facebook? This type of ad is called retargeting and it is a powerful way for advertisers to get you back to their websites after your initial visit.
This happened because Facebook made its API and social graph available to third party apps and games. Some of the sites you visit (and apps you use) require access to your Facebook profile before you use them. Take a game like cooltest.me or nametest.com or a game like CandyCrush, these apps harvest your data to target you with relevant advertising (of course, if you value your privacy, you want to know what they are doing with your data)
Let’s dig a little to see how Facebook show you the adverts you just saw.
In this article, Facebook gave an official explanation of how their ad platform works and shared this video too.
Next time that you see an ad in your timeline, take notice of the tiny little arrow next to the ‘Like Page’ button and when you click on it, you’ll see this pop-up box. Click on ‘Why am I seeing this?’ tab.
The good news is that according to Facebook you have control over the ads you see by setting up you ad preferences. If you then decide you don’t want to see that particular type of ad in the future, you can tell Facebook to stop showing or you can even block the advertiser completely. For a particular advert, I noticed that I was targeted because of my location, my age and my previous interaction with the OptinMonk website.
To opt out of what made me part of the demography that received the ad, I can simply set up my ad preferences on Facebook. You can visit the account setting. You will notice that Facebook categorizes your preference into groups (similar to Google’s keyword groups).
It is your turn now.
Go and start hunting why Facebook keeps showing you ads the next time you are on the site. In case you don’t want Facebook to bother you with ad, you can remove yourself from each of the ad group by deleting them or consider installing AdBlockers.
What is the reason you have been targeted with an ad on Facebook recently? you can share in the comment