06 September 2012

Does Facebook's targeted advertising work?

We are told that Facebook uses our profile information to show us ads that are most likely to be interesting to us. How Facebook Ads Work - Social Ads Tool:
You are what you Like

Facebook Ads are targeted according to your Facebook Profile information: Your age, location, education, relationship status, interests like favorite movies, music and much more are available to advertisers that can access to aggregate data and reach the right audience for their ads.

Depending on their goals and the product that they are advertising, advertisers can set a targeting filter to select which group of people will see their ad. This makes it possible to focus on or target the people most likely to be interested in the product, amongst the 500 million worldwide Facebook users.

Having read that in several places, I expected that the ads that I saw on Facebook might, just possibly, be suited to the kind of demographic group I'm in. But this is what showed up...

Scuba diving, at my age? Living inland?

Shy women? I'm married.

Little black bottle coloured green? What's to like?

Looking for a partner? If I were single or divorced and 25 years younger, I might be, but given who I am, this is way off target.

The BBC recently decided to see how effective this was: BBC Finds Badly Targeted Facebook Ads Don’t Work. No Kidding. | TechCrunch:
the BBC tested out Facebook advertising by running a campaign for the Facebook page of a fictitious small business called VirtualBagel. The investigation was headlined “Facebook ‘likes’ and adverts’ value doubted”. During the week over 3,000 people Liked the ads even though the company doesn’t exist and simply shows you a picture of a bagel. The ‘investigation’ is partly a reminder that Facebook still has issues with fake profiles and Astroturfing, but is also a simple re-stating of the fact that you get what you pay for and if you put up a dumb ad targeted too widely you’ll waste your money.

And there are all those advertisers who ask you to "like" their ads or their produces. Perhaps that means you will see more of their ads, but even more important is that "like" means "Please send me spam".


Aquila ka Hecate said...

On Linux I'm using an adbocker which does away with those annoying things, but at work I'm stuck with them.
They seem to be using my age as the sole point of reference, and really some of it is pretty offensive to be honest.
It's having the effect that I'd go out of my way to not to business with these companies.
Terri in Joburg

Competitive Advantage said...

Well, I think this is also like google adwords. What I like facebook ads is that it has provided photos for people to clearly see what's on the ad rather than merely text. Not to mention the fact that billions of users around the globe are using facebook so I guess this is already one of the ways to post your ads and gain traffic.


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