The Future of Mobile

Facebook Draws in Targeting Data from Web and Third-party Apps

Tim Maytom

ad-preferences-screenshotFacebook is to introduce new options on its ad content, aimed at targeting consumers more precisely and giving users some more control over the types of advertisements they see while using the site.

At the moment, Facebook ads are primarily targeted using biographical information provided by users and preferences including what Pages users like, and which stories on their News Feed they interact with. Within the next few weeks, Facebook will also include information based on third-party websites and apps users interact with.

The company hasn't revealed which websites or apps these include, but it already monitors users' external traffic to track the effectiveness of ads, and the use of Facebook plug-ins on third party sites is widespread. This will be the first time it makes this data available to advertisers though.

While the move has outraged some privacy advocates who campaign against Facebook's continued provision of user data to external companies, in its statement announcing the change, Facebook reminded users that they can opt out of this kind of ad targeting using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt-out for web browsers, and within OS controls on iOS and Android phones.

In the same statement, Facebook also announced it was introducing additional controls to adverts, allowing users to explore why they are being targeted by specific ads and remove keywords they do not wish to be tracked by. This is in addition to being able to remove either single ads, or all ads by a particular company.

The changes will initially be introduced in the US in the next few weeks, but will be expanded globally over the coming months.