As Facebook has evolved into the social media giant we all know, it has developed new methods for companies to reach out to potential customers. At SteerPoint, we saw an announcement last week that takes the advertising on Facebook a step further.
Facebook has long supplied advertisers with information based on user activity within the site – pages you liked, games you played, etc. Now, that has expanded to include users’ web-browsing histories.
In preparing for this change, Facebook provided numerous ways to limit the amount of information the site is able to collect from users. But overall, this is a win for advertisers.
Help for Businesses
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses need to gather as much data as possible about prospective customers. This change to Facebook’s policies will allow this, and will help businesses get ads in front of people who are most likely to become customers.
The system works by Facebook placing lines of code in a user’s computer which transmits data back to Facebook. While it previously kept this data only for security purposes, it will now make it available to businesses to help target users for their ads.
For instance, say a person visits numerous camping or hiking websites, but has never liked any such pages on Facebook. Through the information Facebook is now collecting and distributing, that person might start to see ads for camping and hiking gear.
On the consumer side, this does raise questions of privacy. However, Facebook has done its part to stave off such criticism by giving users more control in this area.
Users are able to opt out of having their data shared with Facebook’s advertisers, and the company provided information on how to do so prior to its change.
What Facebook users will notice on all the ads they see is a “Why am I seeing this ad?” link. Clicking it will bring up a description of the information Facebook used to determine their potential interest in the product or service being advertised.
This link will also give users the option to adjust their privacy settings to prevent such data from being used in the future.
The reaction from privacy experts has been mixed, with some saying Facebook is being responsible through its transparency and others indicating the opt-out methods are ineffective, because some companies don’t participate in them.
Regardless of opposing views, the move is one that should provide benefits to both businesses and consumers is they so choose to participate.