Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clever Advertising

Today, I was on Facebook. Now, don't look at me like that, I don't normally use Facebook for more than 15 minutes a day, if at all. But this was a scientific experiment you see. My friend mentioned to me a while back that apparently, Facebook takes all of the information you put into your "Info" area of your profile and provides specific ads on the sidebar which relate to the information you have shared. Can you believe the incredible craftiness of that? I mean, first, I didn't believe this to be true. Then, I promptly forgot about it, and then, I remembered it and went on Facebook to see if it was true.

First, I looked over the information I had provided to Facebook. There wasn't a lot of it, except for a few art-related hobbies and other things. I have never really seen a point in keeping up with my "info" page because no one really reads it anyway and if anyone I have on Facebook wanted to gather information about my interests, I hope they would just ask me in person (which here means posting on my wall, of course). The only area that I keep up to date is the music section, because it is linked to an application that tells me about upcoming concerts near me. Handy, right?

I made a list of all of these interests and miscellaneous things, and then I surfed Facebook with no real purpose but to take careful notice of which ads appeared on the sidebar. Here are my findings.


I don't know how I feel about this! I actually found some really cool links through these ads, like Modcloth Clothing, and a now-extinct indie dance game site LoudCrowd, but is this a misuse of the information we post on Facebook? Should the fact that our info is used in this way be more circulated? I didn't know about this until a month ago and I have been using Facebook for five years. Now that I think about it though, if I had been more observant, I might have been able to spot it. I remember once seeing an ad for a fashion surveying company, seeking females exactly my age. After my birthday passed, I saw the ad again, with the age changed to fit my new age. I have also been seeing a lot of formalwear ads, so I wonder if Facebook takes into account that I am a senior and assumes that I am shopping for a dress for May/June.

If you want to test this theory (as I have no proof...yet), try putting really obscure things into your Information and see what ads Facebook provides you with. Or better yet, make every single topic (activities, interests, music, books, etc.) the same thing (i.e. sauerkraut) and see how many ads come up with a relevancy to preserved German foods. Remember to report back!

26 comments:

  1. This doesn't surprise me.. google have done this for years. its just facebook has even more personal info on us.

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  2. This is very true. As soon as I put CEO as my job title, all the ads instantly changed. It works similarly to AdSense ads if you know how those work.

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  3. Never knew Facebook did this! Good observational experiment, will try this sometime to see for myself.
    And I will say, very cool content on your blog! Keep up the good job!

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  4. That's exactly how it works but they dont really share the info, they just automatically pick the best adds for you from their huge database.

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  5. yay for the kills. i thought these algorithms have been around for a while

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  6. Yeah adscense tries to rock, sometimes it misses

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  7. we'll see what facebook can really do with their advertising with them just recently increasing their costs for advertisers

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  8. @POP!
    orly? I did not know that interesting little tidbit. I guess things will be looking up soon for sauerkraut advertisers.

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  9. clever indeed. or is it?

    utubed.blogspot.com

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  10. Ads are getting cleverer and cleverer every day

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  11. Using our data to make ads for us is quite ingenious.

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  12. definitely thats how the ads work, no doubt they need the ads to appeal to the person or theyre less likely to be clicke on. pretty smart if you ask me

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  13. Facebook is creeping on it's users. Haha. Made me smirk.

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  14. This is not new. Facebook's ad service is quite scary. If you want to advertise anything, they "ask" you some questions like: what country you want to show advertise to, what interests they should have, age, sex, ... and finally they show you how many people has that profile, and how much it will cost you to advertise

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  15. It's like that with everything. I made a mistake of going to giganews website some time go and checking their subscriptions. Now ever time there is an adsense ad it shows giganews. Solution: delete cookies and for the love of god - never ever put any personal\actual info anywhere on the web except online stores.

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  16. Yeah I found this out a couple of weeks ago. Kinda scary huh?

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  17. they improved their advertising a lot recently

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  18. That's interesting... one can take advantage of this info.

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  19. You're right about the hit or miss nature of FB. Its a mathematical equation that runs your interests, visits, comments whatever through a program to attempt to cater to your needs/likes. But most of the time it makes no sense or is really redundant.

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