The holiday shopping season is upon us, and now more than ever a large portion of our shopping takes place online. And as we google “gift ideas for boyfriends” and “2014 holiday shopping guide,” and visit websites such as Best Buy, Canada Goose, and Target, we begin to notice ads on the side of our Facebook feed suspiciously perfectly related to our recent internet searches.
“This drive me nuts!” My mom exclaims from her desk. “Someone from Facebook knows what I’m doing on other tabs on my computer!”
“Just because you went and bought something, doesn’t mean you want advertisements flashing at you all the time, when you’re just trying to check Facebook!” My dad adds.
They both agree it’s an invasion of privacy.
Until recently in Canada, advertisers could only target their ads based on identifiers set in Facebook – age, gender, location, Facebook pages they’ve liked. Now, Facebook has updated its policy and advertisers can glean information based on users’ browsing information. As The Globe and Mail reports, this data is anonymous, so advertisers cannot identify people personally, but advertisers are able to buy ads that target people based on identifying characteristics.
As a leader in the social media field and one of the first on the scene, Facebook loves to push the boundaries and see what they can get away with. Recently in the U.S., they launched hyper-local advertising. If you have location tracking or GPS turned on on your smart phone, businesses within 1 mile of your location will be able to push advertisements to your phone. As a marketer, it’s certainly an interesting concept. Knowing that your ads are going to be reaching only those people who are in the direct area, you would shape your ads, the wording and images, in a particular way to attract these people. But as the marketee, it feels forced, intrusive and yes, even creepy.
As social media adapts and changes, so will advertising and marketing. In many ways, for the better. But targeting ads based on information that many believe is private and personal – google searches and web site visits – is intrusive and may only get worse without any push back.
How do you feel about Facebook’s targeted ads?