This is my mom.
She is many advertisers’ dream girl. She’s a full-time housewife, armed with a healthy wallet and plenty of time to peruse the internet. Moreover, she lovingly serves as a part-time personal assistant for most of my immediate family—meaning that she’s perpetually online shopping for everything ranging from household supplies to clothes for my dad to flights for us kids.
She fits the perfect profile for so many online advertisers and yet, for years, she’s eluded many of their ads. Why? Because this woman is staunchly anti-Facebook. She thinks it’s creepy and invasive, and despite lots of prodding from me and my siblings, she’s held strong and has yet to set up a profile.
Identity-based targeting is one of the hottest (and most powerful) tactics in digital marketing today. Social media platforms have rich personal data and sophisticated methods to categorize their users, giving marketers the ability to connect with their most highly qualified prospects.
There’s one big downside to using this method: Advertisers are limited because they can only connect with social media users. And, while it certainly feels like everyone and their mom in on Facebook, I can quite literally attest that this is not quite the case.
As you can see from Sprout Social’s infographic on Facebook user demographics, my mom’s situation isn’t too rare. Only 56% of her peers (people ages 65+) have Facebook profiles.
Facebook recognized that this reality was troubling for advertisers focused on demographics with low Facebook adoption rates, so they’re finally taking action. That’s right, mom, there’s no more escaping Facebook ads!
The news recently broke that Facebook is extending its ad reach beyond Facebook users. For a year or so now, it’s been serving ads outside of the platform itself, through the Facebook Audience Network, a collection of third-party websites and mobile apps. However, these ads were only displayed to Facebook users, perusing these sites. Now, these ads will also be visible for non-users.
Here’s how the new process will work—Facebook will leverage a combination of cookie tracking, plugins and button data to acquire data on non-Facebook users as they use the internet. This technique isn’t new—various online ad networks are already employing it—but Facebook has a unique advantage, thanks to the vast amount of data it has on its own users’ behavior. By linking the patterns in the non-users’ behaviors to those of their existing users, it can get a more accurate depiction of the non-users’ interests and demographics. As it starts to identify who these non-users are, it’ll be able to include them in the Facebook Audience Network.
If all goes according to plan, this change will be hugely positive for Facebook and Facebook advertisers alike. Advertisers will be able to serve ads to even more qualified viewers and Facebook will reap even more dollars in ad revenue.
The only person who won’t be thrilled about this update? My beloved mother. But don’t worry mom—non-users will have the ability to opt-out of these identity-based ads, should they wish.
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