Facebook says it’s bringing more data into its interest-based ad targeting — specifically data from non-Facebook websites and mobile apps. So even if your profile doesn’t say anything about your love of soccer, and even if you haven’t Liked any soccer-related Pages on Facebook, the social network can still see that you’ve visited soccer-related websites and target ads accordingly. A Facebook spokesperson emphasized that this doesn’t actually involve collecting new data. Instead, the company already has access to this information from websites that installed the Facebook conversion pixel and apps that use the Facebook SDK — it’s just using the data in a new way.
Facebook Inc is expanding the internal user profiles that underpin its targeted advertising system, for the first time including personal information based on activities that did not occur within the boundaries of its social network. While Facebook has long maintained internal profiles of users based on the comments they make and the posts that they “like” within its social network, the company will now flesh out those profiles with information based on some of the external websites and mobile apps its members use, a move that could further inflame concerns about how it treats personal privacy. The enhanced profiles will allow marketers to deliver more relevant ads, Facebook said in a blog post announcing the change on Thursday. If a Facebook user researches a new television on an external website or inside of a mobile app, their profile might now indicate an interest in televisions and in electronics, making it easier for advertisers pitching electronic devices to reach that user on Facebook. Facebook already has access to much of this information through tools that it uses to measure the performance of its ads as well as through “plug-ins” that integrate Facebook features on third-party websites, but the company has not until now incorporated the data into its users’ ad targeting profiles.