If you’ve ever paid close attention to the ads you see in the sidebar of Facebook, you’ve probably noticed they change depending on your ‘Likes,’ demographics, or internet activity. For example, if you look at the image to the left, I can reasonably explain why most of those ads are appearing.
ZAGG, the first one, should be obvious; I spend a lot of time on our site writing these posts.
The next one, for a photo lab, is likely showing up because I have it listed as an Interest on my profile.
The third ad is targeted at me because I live in Wichita.
As for the fourth ad for American Express: same story as the ZAGG ad. I’m an AmEx cardholder and use its website to check my balance and statements.
You didn’t think all those ads were random, did you?
But this is just the beginning. As Facebook is now a publicly traded company, its under pressure from Wall Street and investors to deliver higher revenue, which comes from, among other things, better ad performance. The more you click on those ads, the more money they make. The next wave of targeted ads will start looking at purchases you make offline. You know, in an actual brick and mortar retail store.
How will it work, you ask? AdAge reported earlier today that Facebook is partnering with two firms – Acxiom and Epsilon – to pair customer data from loyalty and reward programs with Facebook accounts. Specifically, they’ll use your email address and phone number, both of which you usually provide to have a loyalty card for a specific retailer when you sign up. Guess what. Facebook also has your email address, and most people often include their phone number. Bingo.
As a hypothetical example of how this might work, let’s say you bought a new video game at a local retail store (I have no idea which stores will be participating in the program). You use your Rewards Card to get points for your purchase when you check out. The data about your purchase is matched with your identity and provided to Facebook, and you’d start seeing ads appear for other video games and related content from advertisers.
How do you feel about this kind of targeted advertising as a consumer? Do you mind some of your offline purchases being shared for marketing purposes? I can see it a couple of different ways, so let me know your take on Twitter: @mbchp or on Facebook. I’ll share some of your responses.
You should follow Mike on Twitter for more great tech insights and good conversation. If Twitter isn’t your thing, fear not, you can always keep up with Mike on his personal blog as well at: www.MikeBeauchamp.me or on Facebook.