Facebook paves way for behavioral targeting with greater transparency
By Chantal Tode
June 13, 2014
Facebook beefs up ad targeting with behavioral data
Facebook hopes to make more palatable its decision to leverage behavioral data for ad targeting purposes by coupling the move with enhanced user control over the social network’s collection of personal data.
By leveraging behavioral data Facebook is already collecting from people’s smartphones and other Web sites they visit and applying it to ad targeting, the social network hopes to help brands more effectively reach users. This news is the latest example of how Facebook continues to try to close the gap with Google in digital advertising.
“When Facebook launched their first, ill-timed effort to track people through third-party cookies – what was known as Beacon – they had to step back and rethink their approach due to the uproar of privacy,” said Bryan Maleszyk, director of strategy at Isobar.
“Announcing their new attempt to track what people do outside their platform - which is still their greatest data weakness - had to be coupled with a move to make their data more transparent, similar to what their partners such as Epsilon and Datalogix already do,” he said.
“In the short-term, marketers should see better CTR on their mobile ads. More importantly, they’ll be able to compare apples-to-apples how the same Facebook ad performed on mobile vs. desktop, to see where their audiences are most responsive. In the long-term, the data collected by Facebook’s third-party site partners will start to close the gap between their main competitor in the online ad space, DoubleClick.”
Eliminating the middleman
Facebook will start giving users the ability to view the information it has compiled about them for ad targeting purposes. Users will be able to change, add or delete information as well as tell Facebook what types of messages they would like to see.
Additionally, Facebook will start taking the data it is collecting from people’s smartphones and other Web sites they visit to improve its ad targeting.
For Facebook, playing a bigger role in behavioral targeting is imperative as it looks to build it advertising business, especially as marketers are increasingly clamoring for better targeting capabilities so they deliver more relevant ads.
“Lots of people are selling behaviorally targeted ads and lots of people sell them for Facebook audiences, all through preferred partners of Facebook,” said Karen Halstead, head of media at Mekanism. “But Facebook hasn't been getting as much of the revenue directly from these and their partners are.
“So they are eliminating the middleman and taking more of the money,” she said. “Yes, they have more data so it's more precise, but these capabilities have been around for a while - just not direct from Facebook.”
A more precise channel
The move toward greater transparency is an important and necessary one for Facebook.
Consumers and regulators are increasingly concerned about how personal information is being tracked, stored and shared.
By addressing these concerns by giving consumers a way to have more control over their data could help alleviate some of these concerns.
“People are very, very sensitive around these sorts of issues,” said Daryl Colwell, senior vice president of business development at Matomy. “The plethora of data that Facebook has is just tremendous.
“This is a big step from Facebook,” he said. “They are being transparent with the consumers and explaining to them, here is why you are seeing what you are seeing, we are not hiding anything in terms of why we are reaching out to you with a specific message.
“In addition, it is going to help Facebook. It gives me as consumer an opportunity to change my preferences which in turn is going to help Facebook generate more revenue but it is also going to help marketers make Facebook a better channel, a more precise channel for them to spend their advertising dollars in.”
At the same time, Facebook is introducing a new format for its mobile app ads that will include links to a Facebook Page, social context and sharing options. The goal is to align mobile app ads with other ad formats.
The change to the in-app ads is a consistency update that brings these ads in line with what is already offered on desktop.
“App context like social context and page links make ads that aren’t meant to drive app downloads feel more native in the Facebook mobile app,” Isobar’s Mr. Maleszyk said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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