16. Targeted Facebook Ads

As advertisers, we’re trying to reach our audience. Now that everyone is online, it’s logical that advertising would do the same on the Internet. I know that many believe that the next step of advertising revolves around “targeted ads” online, but I have a few problems with it.


The idea is there…stalk my online activity and throw ads up that correlate directly to what I was just searching for. Problem: I sit in the front row of class. Second problem: people shop for underwear sometimes. Thank you, targeted ads, for displaying exactly which underwear I was shopping for. Boys sitting behind me, you’re welcome.

The advertisements on Facebook are decided by multiple factors of your online personality, the most basic being your general information on your profile. Where you’re from, your age, your interests—these factors place you in defined demographic categories, from which advertisers pick and choose how to advertise to you. This is not the factor that annoys me. What annoys me is when Facebook takes directly from my recent browsing history and throws it on my damn page for anyone looking over my shoulder to see. Please don’t think that I sit on Facebook during class—it just happens to be up when I first open my laptop, showing the row behind me precisely what I was just shopping for.

I shop online a lot—I don’t usually buy, but I browse regularly. Putting the exact products that I was shopping for on the sidebar of my Facebook does remind me of them, but I didn’t buy them for a reason. If I wanted it, I would have bought it the first time.

Though the targeting of advertisements makes sense to me, it still creep me out a bit. Lay off, Google. I’m a teenager; stop telling on me to mom/Facebook. I’ve never clicked on the sidebar displaying my favorite brands, but then again I browse their websites anyway, without prompt from Facebook. So does this targeting advertising actually work? Or are people as creeped out/annoyed as I am by big brother Google?

Brian Boland, Facebook’s director of product marketing, describes the new manner in which users can click out of ads. “We have always given our users the ability to provide feedback on and control the ads they see on Facebook, by hiding, reporting, or clicking through to learn more about why particular ads are being served,” he said. I appreciate the effort to show me ads that actually apply to me, and to allow me to click out of them, but please keep my underwear out of it. Thank you.


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