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A Facebook like can enable advertisers to target people based on personality - research

Tyrone Stewart

FacebookTailoring ads based on the psychological traits of linked to just one Facebook like can be highly effective in driving clicks and purchases, compared to targeting on demographics alone, a piece of research has found.

Researchers from multiple universities conducted a study where it targeted more than 3.7m people in the UK – the majority of which were women – with ads linked to companies promoting beauty products, a crossword app, and a bubble shooter game respectively.

These ads were targeted based on each person’s level of extraversion, introversion, and openness – which was decided by picking out a single one of their Facebook likes. This resulted in up to 40 per cent more clicks and 50 per cent more purchases/app installs than when people were targeted based solely on traits such as age or gender.

Despite the evidence presented by the study, its methodology can be questioned in that – due to the nature of the ads – mostly women were targeted, so it is not clear if there are gender differences. Furthermore, ads were only run in the UK, meaning there could also be culture and national differences. On top of that, the study would need to be conducted with a broader range of likes, as opposed to just a single one to identify personality. At the end of the day, extraversion, introversion, and openness are not linear concepts.

Although, as with any piece of research, it isn’t entirely methodologically sound, it’s interesting to see how advertisers could find more success targeting people based on their personalities on Facebook and other platforms. Of course, Facebook has been accused in the past of targeting teens based on their emotional state, so this isn’t too far away from that.