You’re scrolling through your newsfeed, you see a sweatshirt that has your name or your profession in a catchphrase, and it’s only $30. It feels weird to see something so distinctly “you” pop up. So, how does Facebook do that? If you feel like Facebook has more ads than usual, you aren’t dreaming it up; Facebook has been hitting all of us with more ads that are more relevant to us. Although it may seem unnerving at first, Facebook’s data collection tools are fascinating and can often connect users with products they want.

 

Facebook uses your profile to create personalized ads. If you like Target’s Facebook page, then Target will start delivering ads to you. Facebook will deliver ads to you based on what your friends like. However, it’s not just what you and your friends are doing alone that generates ads; it’s also demographic information. Major life events like getting engaged or married will produce content specifically for you. If you are recently engaged and post it to Facebook, wedding dresses and wedding venues will start to populate your feed. Kind of cool, huh?

When an advertiser creates an on Facebook, it can select all sorts of parameters, so it reaches the right people. For example, if someone is trying to sell a swimsuit: They can target it towards people that live near large bodies of water or has swimming listed in their interests. The more information you put about yourself on Facebook such as your age, where you live, where you graduated college, activities you like and where you work: This all will determine what ads are delivered to you.

If you don’t include all of this information on your profile, Facebook turns to your friends to fill the gaps. Facebook only needs to know one particular thing about you, like where you live, and what your friends provide to create a reasonable demographic that advertisers can use to reach you.

Let’s say you have a Facebook account just for the sake of having a profile. Facebook collects data through companies such as Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon, and BlueKai. These companies collect information about you through things like store loyalty cards, mailing lists, public records, browser cookies and more. So, if you are a customer at Starbucks and utilize their rewards program, you will see a Starbucks ad pop up on your Facebook at some point, or even a tee-shirt with a coffee cup on it saying Coffee Addict.

These data collection companies know more than you would think: race, gender, buying habits, economic status and more. If you don’t use loyalty cards or enroll in reward programs when you shop, Facebook still has you pinpointed. If you purchase a car at a dealership, they will more than likely ask you for your email to send you reminders about car servicing and more. That dealership wants to advertise on Facebook, so they upload a list of all of the email addresses they have. That data is then made private, and Facebook pairs the email addresses with the one you registered on Facebook. If these match, you might see an ad from that dealership on Facebook. Your friends might see the same ad from the dealership because they are reaching out to their target audience.

There’s no reason to feel a little spooked by all of this, but all of this information is kept private. Facebook uses a system called hashing to prevent from all of your private information from leaking. When you went to the grocery store last week, and you tried a new brand of yogurt that has just launched and used your discount card at check-out, Facebook might have delivered an ad for that yogurt that you had not seen previously. Don’t worry; it’s not because your phone heard you say how delicious it was at first bite.

Here at Velocity Agency, we pride ourselves in our knowledge of data collection and ad targeting. If you are trying to expand your target audience, we can help you take your brand to new heights. We have the knowledge and experience to make those internet users stop mid-scroll and CLICK the purchase button.