Facebook targets ads based on actual user purchases

The social networking company has tied up with data companies to serve ads

Facebook has launched a program that will target advertisements based on what users have actually purchased, but said that advertisers will not have direct access to information that identifies the user.

"To date, advertisers have been able to show ads to people based on their expressed interests on Facebook," the company said on Wednesday in a blog post. With the introduction of new "partner categories," advertisers can also show ads to users on Facebook "based on the products and brands they buy across both desktop and mobile."

The partner categories at launch include 500 distinct groups, ranging from people who are heavy buyers of children's cereals to people who are likely to buy an entry, economy or compact vehicle in the next 180 days. The categories can be fine-tuned to, for example, let a local car dealership show ads to people living near their dealership who are likely in the market for a new car.

Partner categories use data from third parties including Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. These companies collect data from a large number of user purchases both online and offline. Datalogix, for example, claims to have data on almost every U.S. household and more than US$1 trillion in consumer transactions.

No personal information is shared between Facebook, third parties or advertisers, Facebook said. "Partner categories work the same way all targeting on Facebook works. The advertiser only knows the size of the audience and can't access any information about individuals included in a category," Facebook added.

The company's revenue from advertising was $1.33 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, which was 84 percent of total revenue for the quarter, and a 41 percent increase from the same quarter in the previous year. The company has been trying to offer new services to advertisers, including recently testing targeted advertisements on users' News Feeds on Facebook, based on their browsing history.

Facebook, which has been frequently under scrutiny for possible invasion of user privacy, emphasized in a separate post on Wednesday that the privacy of users would not be compromised by the new partner categories program. It said it set up the program "in a way that people who use Facebook can understand how this advertising works and have the ability to control it." 

When he sees a Facebook advertisement, a user can click on "About this Ad" from a drop-down menu, and identify the company responsible for including him in the audience for the ad. The user can also choose to opt-out from the ad or any ads from the Facebook partner. Partners have also agreed to provide on the "About this Ad" page a comprehensive opt-out of future targeting by that company, not only on one website, but across the Web, Facebook said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internetFacebooke-commerceInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?