When it comes to using Facebook, users can expect targeted ads based on their activity: for instance, if you like a Game of Thrones page, you’ll get ads for the TV show. But with a new update announced last Thursday, users will start seeing ads that reflect their browsing history off Facebook, as well.
The practice is commonly employed by advertising agencies and other large media companies, and it’s accomplished using tracking cookies, or bits of data that monitor where you go around the web. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are just a few of the companies that use this strategy.
Facebook has admitted in the past to maintaining internal profiles on all users based on their interests, comments, and other on-site data. Now, however, the company will incorporate user information gained outside of Facebook, too, including in browsers and on other mobile apps.
Much of the off-site information will be tracked through Facebook’s third party platforms, such as the ones used to comment on blogs and news websites.
Facebook’s update will also give users more preference in how they see ads and why they are shown ads through its ad preferences tool. The tool is supposed to give Facebook users advertisements that are more relevant to them.
For advertisers, the good news is that they are getting potential customers who will actually be interested in what they have to offer, something missing from most pay per click programs in web advertising. However, the same users can also block these ads with various types of software, preventing advertisers from reaching certain consumers.
The latest update with regard to ads may help improve Facebook’s image. The company has long been accused of exploiting its users’ personal data, so giving back some of that control may help win over critics — for now.
For advertisers, the change to targeted ads could show promise.
“While targeted ads can appear as too invasive into our personal lives, they are an excellent tool for businesses, and many consumers appreciate having ads that match their tastes a bit better. Though it’s impossible to avoid ads on the net, there are ways to opt out if you find targeting ads are just too creepy.” states Eric Hall of Hall Marketing Group
For users, the battle over privacy against the social media giant is forever evolving, with the newest features tracking browser history and mobile app data being one more invasion of privacy to critics.