Facebook is about to launch a new ad preferences tool that will allow users to block ads by excluding specific topics. They say this will makes ads “better” because the viewer will have control over what they see and what they don’t. They say they’re making this option available because “soon” they won’t just be monitoring what you do on Facebook, they’ll also be including data from “some of the websites and apps you use.”
In case you didn’t know that your movements on the web turn into marketing fodder, Facebook has a detailed explanation of how this works:
Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.
If you don’t want this to happen, you can stop those electronic messages with a series of steps that I can’t imagine anyone will actually take.
When you see an ad you don’t like, click on it to get an option menu:
From here, you can choose “Why am I seeing this?” This leads you to another screen with a long explanation about how you did things related to (INSERT TOPIC) on Facebook and so now we assume you like things related to (INSERT SAME TOPIC). If you don’t really like (INSERT SAME TOPIC) and you hit those pages by accident or have decided that you’re no longer into (INSERT SAME TOPIC) you can remove this topic from your ad preference list and we won’t show you these ads again. . . probably. . . maybe.
Because you gotta figure there’s a lot of crossover. I might say no to Televisions but then I visit the Best Buy Facebook page and that puts me on the “Home Theater” list. Really, how detailed is this list?
I also have to laugh at the menu option that says “This ad is useful”. Does anyone actually take the time to stop and mark an ad as useful so they can see more of them in the future?
Okay, I understand that this is Facebook protecting itself from the wrath of privacy advocates and consumer protection groups. But will people actually turn off ads based on topic? Don’t track button – I understand that. It’s one choice – don’t follow me on the web. This multiple choice option, I don’t understand. I know some people are going to say it’s because I’m a marketer, but I’m a social media user, too. If I’m not interested in an ad, I just skip over it. Not hard.
Bottom line for advertisers, if a Facebook user goes through all these steps to block your ad, they weren’t going to buy from you in the first place, so blocking saves you time and money. Looking at it that way, the new ad preference tool really does make ads better for everyone.