Independent Thinking Blog

Facebook Ad Profile Knows a Lot About You (Right and Wrong)

Facebook believes I’m “very liberal” and like the UK’s Conservative Party.

The social networking platform also believes I’m a technology early adopter with an African-American “ethnic affinity” who likes words and alarm clocks.

Here’a little more from my Facebook ad profile:

  • Guinness, LensCrafters, “art museum,” and someplace called Downside, Surrey.
  • Bonsai and “Sense.”
  • Washington Nationals and the U.S. Men’s National Team (soccer).
  • The Daily Show, the New York Times, and a band called Shenandoah.
  • Asset management, ONE Campaign, and biology.
  • Oreos (okay, this is 100% true).

By now, maybe, you’ve figured out this is some of the information Facebook has gathered on me to build its advertising profile. Some of it is correct; some of it is really odd. Maybe the asset management one is because I once posted a survey on financial literacy?

Social networks collect lots of data.

Each of the pairings above represent a segment (e.g., hobbies, news & entertainment, travel, places & events). I once checked out the ONE Campaign for a client. Shenandoah is a national park I like to hike in — but the band? I got nothing.

Here’s the point: social networks collect a lot of data on us. We provide our data freely as we share our lives, and they’re all aggregating the information to come up with better ad targeting. It’s not just Facebook ad profiles– even Snapchat is looking at how to tap into ad revenue.

Your Facebook ad profile is getting more targeted.

Your Facebook Ad Profile

I just made fun of Facebook. But, let’s face it, I can only see the broad-stroke categories Facebook shows me in hopes that I’ll view ads in that category and help the network refine my profile. Facebook has compiled lots of other data on me, part of its secret-sauce algorithm, that I don’t get to see.

The algorithms are getting better all the time.

Gone are the days of really bad, generic “sidebar” ads. (Yes, sidebar ads still exist, but the Facebook ones are mostly retargeting efforts.) Every keystroke is a potential data point.

The data and the technology are both improving. As a business, you can refine your target demographics to put some sophisticated, relevant content in front of your audience. And more and more companies are advertising — on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and elsewhere. Digital advertising is becoming a more useful brand tactic across platforms to reach out beyond your engaged audience to the people “like them” whom maybe you couldn’t easily reach before.

Want to see what Facebook thinks of you? Find your Facebook ad profile.

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