Facebook is definitely flexing its data muscles
Facebook announced earlier this month that there would be more changes affecting the way you can target ads on Facebook. In addition, to address privacy concerns, more control is being given to Facebook users to customize how they are being targeted.
From an advertising perspective, you can currently target ads based on geography, age, gender, and language. Facebook further enables targeting based on interaction with pages on Facebook (or interests).
Facebook has also appended third party data from data aggregators such as MRI, Experian, Epsilon, and Acxiom to enable deeper, more specific targeting. Data aggregators are organizations like credit bureaus that compile publicly available or proprietary information gathered from surveys in order to rent or sell that information/data.
Plus you can target existing customers or visitors to your website. You can actually take a list of customers, subscribers, etc., upload it to Facebook, and have Facebook find others with similar interests and target those people with a relevant ad/offer. Or you can place a Facebook tracking pixel on your website and use that for targeting purposes.
This is all targeting functionality that exists today.
Facebook users can opt out of specific advertiser ads within Facebook as well as from third party websites that place tracking cookies on behalf of advertisers by either clicking on the blue arrow shown below or navigating to the Digital Advertising Alliance opt out page.
In the near future in the U.S. (no specific date has been provided yet), Facebook will be adding even more targeting by leveraging data from mobile apps and websites. If a user is browsing a website (or a pp) and the site or app owner has implemented a Facebook tracking pixel, the activity on that site could potentially be used for Facebook ad targeting purposes. This could be incredibly powerful for interactive marketers as it opens up targeting accuracy that Facebook did not otherwise have access to within the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook won’t have to depend solely on someone liking a Facebook page to show interest in a topic; it will be able to confirm interest with real actions, like visiting a website related to that same Facebook page topic.
About Privacy Concerns
Any time advertising changes are made, there’s always an outpouring of privacy concerns. In order to assuage these concerns, Facebook is rolling out a new Ad Preferences tool to give more control to Facebook users over what types of ads they see. In the next couple weeks, when a user clicks the dropdown in the upper right-hand corner of an ad and selects “Why am I seeing this Ad?” that user will be shown a brief explanation as to why they were targeted with the specific ad. The user will further be able to navigate to the Ads Preferences and have the option to not only opt out but actually modify the categories that Facebook is using to target ads towards them. On the flipside, if the person so chooses, he/she will actually be able to add categories that are of interest.
Facebook is definitely flexing its data muscles to monetize its social media platform even further. But it is also putting a tremendous amount of control over a user’s data in the hands of the actual user. If a user doesn’t want to see an ad from a particular advertiser, then that user will be able hide it. If the user doesn’t want to see ads from within a specific category or interest, then that user will be able to deselect it. This is really good news for marketers. In order to maximize your marketing budget and generate the highest possible ROI, you need to target users that meet your targeting criteria who are also interested in (and receptive to) Facebook ads. If a user opts out or deselects a respective category, that user just saved you from “wasting” your marketing budget and enabled you to allocate your budget towards someone who is a stronger target.
This really is a win-win for marketers and Facebook users.
*Note that opt-outs are browser specific and cookie based. If a user deletes cookies, the opt-out preferences will be deleted as well. If the user changes browsers, the opt-out preferences will not be transferred to the new browser. Facebook users can opt out of specific advertiser ads within Facebook – as well as from third party websites that place tracking cookies on behalf of advertisers – by either clicking on the blue arrow shown below or navigating to the Digital Advertising Alliance opt out page.*