In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook is giving you more control over what you see in your news feed. That may be a relief, especially if you are getting barraged with ads that have nothing to do with any product or service you’d ever actually purchase.
On Thursday, Facebook announced plans to give users a peak at the information it collects about its users and give them more control over that information. Essentially, users can add, change or delete the information in Facebook’s digital dossiers. That ultimately trickles down to the ads you see. And if you don’t like one that shows up in your Newsfeed, you can now let Facebook know.
“When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like,” the company explained in a blog post. “Starting soon in the U.S., we will also include information from some of the Web sites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.”
Tired of Watching TV Ads?
Facebook offers a prime example: If you are thinking about buying a new TV and start researching TVs on the Web and in your mobile apps, Facebook might start showing you advertisements on deals for a new TV. Facebook’s stated goal is to help you get the best price or show you other brands that might pique your interest.
But Facebook’s assumptions don’t stop there. The social media giant might also start serving up ads for electronics of all kinds or even show you ads for other electronics in the future, from speakers to game consoles, to go alongside your new TV. Of course, that’s a lot of assumption on Facebook’s part and it isn’t always welcome.
“If you don’t want us to use the Web sites and apps you use to show you more relevant ads, we won’t,” Facebook explained. “You can opt out of this type of ad targeting in your Web browser using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, and on your mobile devices using the controls that iOS and Android provide.”
Is This Self-Defeating?
Facebook has heard this feedback loud and clear: People want more control over the ads they see. With that loud cry in mind, Facebook is introducing ad preferences, a new tool that works with every single ad displayed on Facebook. (continued...)
Posted: 2014-06-15 @ 7:48am PT
Facebook is trying to improve a system (21st century online advertisment) that is flawed by design. Nice try, but it is doomed to fail because of the underlying assumptions.
Facebook's "stated goal" might be to help consumers "get the best price or show [them] other brands that might pique [their] interest". This is predicated on two assumptions:
(1) Advertisers are trying to compete for consumer's business by showing them their lowest prices. The reality is totally opposite: advertisers try to segment consumers, ideally into single-person-segment (i.e. full "personalization") for the sole purpose of price-gauging them.
(2) The second one is even more fatal: consumers do not know about alternative brands. With the internet's information overload, consumers do know about other brands. What they lack is objective information, and this is not what the advertisers are going to provide. All what advertisers do is waste consumers' time repeating their biased messages ad nauseam.
So now Facebook's model resembles more and more the old 20ieth century offline advertisment (remeber the product registrations card that manufacturer hoped consumers would fill and send back). Good luck with that.
The conflict between advertiser's interest and consumer's interest can't be reconciled. Consumers want information, advertisment is disinformation. I am loath to waste my time feeding the machine that tracks me and displays ads to me. Facebook is still captive to its paymaster, the advertisers, and there is nothing it can do to entice me to spend time on its websites.