Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of my friends complaining that they are “creeped out” when they see Facebook ads tailored to their demographics or interests, or when they see ads from websites they have recently visited on other websites. This is technology at work to benefit both the user and the marketer.
Now, I don’t know what makes advertisements catered to my interests so creepy. Personally, I think it’s great. Do I want to see ads about fantasy football? Not really. Guys, do you want to know about a great deal on stilettos? Doubt it. The same principle applies to marketers. Why spend your advertising budget on an uninterested audience? Seeking out your target audience is certainly not revolutionary, but once it is applied to Facebook, it seems to make people unsettled. These strategies are done to help you get content you want and eliminate clutter.
How does Facebook target users?
The thing that I think people misconstrue about Facebook’s ad targeting is HOW they are actually getting targeted. It’s easy to think that “big brother” is scouring your every move trying to figure out what type of person you are, but in reality, the only information used is what you voluntarily supply. Let’s say I opened up a dog grooming salon in Detroit, Michigan. I would be able to specify that I want to serve ads to those who report they are living in Eastern Michigan and have dogs listed as one of their interests. Better yet, I could even be as specific as targeting dog owners with the breed of dogs that tend to give me the most business AND set a geographic distance from the zip code of my location(s). Talk about specific, relevant, and cost effective advertising!
Retargeting follows you around the web
Another effective way to advertise to a more appropriate audience is through retargeting. It’s not necessarily a coincidence to see an ad from a website that you might have visited a couple of days ago. Some websites set cookies through your browser when you visit a certain page(s) on their website and can then serve ads to you on other websites while you are surfing the internet after setting this cookie. This is also possible to do through Google Adwords via the Audiences functionality. After putting a tracking cookie on specific pages of a website, display ads will then be shown to individuals who have visited those pages as they browse websites on the Google Display Network.
This strategy goes back to the frequency principle of marketing; people will generally need to see your ad several times (typically 3-7 times based on your demographic and desired audience) before responding to it. By incorporating retargeting into your campaign, you are able to target people who have already established they are interested in your brand because they already visited your website. As a result you will be much more effective in your advertising strategy and budget.
Love it? Hate it?
As a professional marketer, I would rather get content that I can relate to and leave the “clutter” of things I am not interested in behind. As a consumer, would you rather have your interests ignored and have anonymity when it comes to being marketed to online? Or do you prefer to see ads that are tailored to your interests and profile you build by the sites you visit? We would love to hear what you think.