Facebook Will Target Ads According to Users’ Browsing History

Ad preferences will soon change on users’ Facebook accounts in the U.S. The company announced on its blog on Thursday that it will start targeting ads according to its users’ browsing history, and not only what they browse on the actual Facebook site, but also according to what users search on third-party websites and mobile applications.

Facebook expressed that many companies are already doing this type of interested-based advertisement, and they will soon jump on the same wagon. Before this move Facebook only collected information based on its users’ behavior on the site, such as liking pictures and pages, and commenting on posts. The move for change on the ad targeting comes as a way to bring more revenue for the social media website and the advertisers. Facebook states that it will also bring more relevant ads to its users. According to the social network, if a person is interested in purchasing a certain item on a third-party website the information will be collected by Facebook, and once the user logs into the account the item will be advertised on the ads section. This will give the user more options to see what other brands have and even get better pricing.

According to USA Today, Facebook has known for a while the interests of their more than 1 billion users by having their “Like” button embedded on many websites, but until now the information was not used. It is unknown if this type of advertisement will affect how users will engage with the social media site, but in a consumers’ report survey it was stated that more than 70 percent of consumers claimed that the targeted ads were little to no use to them while they visited a website or used an app on their phone.

Some Facebook users might not be thrilled with how the site will use their browsing history to target the ads, but the social media site has already addressed the issue. To squash privacy concerns, Facebook said that users will have the option to modify their ad preferences and even will be able to opt out from having targeted ads by using the Digital Advertising Alliance website. This site allows individuals to check which companies have paired up with other websites to tailor ads on their browser, and users can also check their privacy options. Digital Advertising Alliance also allows consumers to stop getting advertisements from any companies targeting them by clicking the opt-out option.

Facebook is also allowing users to choose which target ads are beneficial for them as this helps the company to not only rely on their browsing history. On the top right-hand corner of the advertisement, consumers will be able to check on a drop-down menu that tells them why they are seeing the ad. Then they will be given the option to add or remove it from their preferences. In addition, this drop-down menu will collect information about the users by asking them why the ad was not relevant. In an interview with a Facebook account user Jonathan Hamrick, he expressed that while on the surface these changes might seem creepy. He said he feels it is just a part of the times people live in these days, and that it might actually be refreshing to see ads that are not so off-base, but that are targeted according to his preferences. Facebook is required to get the user’s consent before doing some of the changes on their privacy settings. This requirement was reached in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012.

By Marcia Villavicencio

USA Today
Facebook Newsroom
Information Week 
Voice of America

One Response to "Facebook Will Target Ads According to Users’ Browsing History"

  1. nukestone software solutions   June 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    This is an interesting concept. I had an opportunity to work on similar concept five years ago for a telecommunication company. They were using it to provide “value added services”. We found one major drawback of this kind of advertisement, it limits advertising scope to user preference and this prevents users to explore new market products. It also sometime irritates to see same products 24×7 on your screen on every websites as other websites are also doing same tactics to maximize leads. It will be interesting to see how this goes in internet marketing world.


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