What Does Facebook’s New Ad Targeting Mean for Marketers?

By Sarah Wyland | Jun 13, 2014
More Articles by Sarah

It’s Friday the 13th and there’s a full moon tonight. While there are all sorts of theories about bad luck and obscure behavior, Facebook is attempting to make today your lucky day. Well, technically, yesterday was your lucky day, but for the sake of acknowledging that today is a day where people are on the lookout for black cats crossing the street and ladders left in the middle of busy sidewalks, let’s just go with it.

Yesterday, Facebook announced via a blog post that they are giving users more control over the ads they see. According to Facebook, feedback from users tells them people want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Right now, Facebook primarily learns about users through things like the pages they like and what information they offer up on their profile. In a few weeks, Facebook will begin using the websites and mobile apps users visit to better target ads.


Taking it one step further, Facebook will also offer users more control over the ads they see with the introduction of ad preferences. A new tool will be accessible on every ad that explains why users are seeing that ad. It will also give them the chance to add and remove interests, further tailoring their Facebook experience.

So what does that mean for us as marketers?

money_bagsIt means Facebook advertising is about to get a lot more valuable.

We can now advertise to users who have taken actions outside of Facebook, such as, to use Facebook’s example, searching for a new TV. This, combined with the plethora of demographic targeting already available, will be “gold” for marketers.

Additionally, we will no longer have to guess at personas – we’ll be able to target the people we know are looking for what we are marketing, be it retail goods or a B2B service. If we’re advertising a sale on cattle feed, we no longer have to guess as to whether it’s a 45-year-old man in Virginia or a 24-year-old woman in Kentucky. We can now hit the exact audience who has been browsing our site for cattle feed.

Of course, Facebook is giving users the chance to opt out of this type of targeting. That is likely a move to avoid criticism about privacy infringement. Users should see (if they haven’t already) a notification pop up when they log into Facebook that tells them more about the new ad targeting and their options. They can choose not to see the ad, hide ads from a specific brand, or even mark it as useful. What remains to be seen is the uptake by users of this feature, and if it will begin to affect ad reach and traffic over time. But if marketers take advantage of the goldmine of information Facebook will be providing in order to better target their ads, then users may be more receptive to them and less likely to say “I don’t want to see this.”

If you’re like me, though, you ignored the pop up – I want to see what these changes do for my ads. Given the amount of time I spend on client websites, the mix of ads delivered to me should prove to be pretty diverse.

What do you think about the latest advertising offering from Facebook? Are you excited to try it out? Or will you be opting out? Leave us a comment or tweet me @Sarah_Wyland.

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