How well does Facebook target ads? Check your own Ad Board

September 3, 2010

I am not a firefighter

With the bevy of personal information and preferences Facebook has collected about me, I have been consistently surprised at how poorly Facebook seems to target ads.

See if you agree. While logged into Facebook, visit your own Ad Board, which collects in one place a set of ads that are rotated through your pages:

Facebook Ad Board

How many of those ads seem relevant to you? For me, it’s not even 20%. And most of the ads in the 20% are relevant only due to geography.

Observations:

  1. Facebook hasn’t yet made a science out of targeting ads based on your profile, at least to those in my demographic. Another indication that their targeting is still primitive: even though users can delete ads and provide feedback on relevance, those actions don’t prevent deleted ads from reappearing; so apparently they haven’t really connected user feedback to ad selection.
  2. By (conservatively) not allowing third-party ad networks to apply their own profiles in targeting ads in Facebook, ads in Facebook don’t leverage those broader profiles the way ads on many large sites already do. To the extent data collected from “Like” buttons are or will be applied to target ads within Facebook, you can expect this to change.
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