back to article Facebook sharpens ad-shifting tool: Soon users will eat creepily SPECIFIC ad-gloop

Facebook is refining its algorithm to better serve up tailored advertising to its userbase in yet another move to satisfy its actual customers: advertisers. In recent months the Mark Zuckerberg-run company has made a number of strategic tweaks to its free content ad network – a move which has helped drive Facebook's stock to …


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  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Trying to out do Google then?

    After the story that Gmail is going to carry Ads, FB has to step up the ante then?

    To All Advertisers who push their stuff at me wherever I go on the internet--------------------->

  2. James 51

    And if you hide all ads or none?

    I'm looking forward to ignoring all those ads for basket weaving classes based on the random like spree to salt the data.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Facebook is now being more precise than ever before about targeting ads at the huge personal data trove it holds on more than 1 billion people around the globe."

    Given that they are completely and utterly random at the moment and seem to ignore any sort of "Don't show this advert" this would hardly be difficult - 99.9% of the time I see an advert on Facebook I can't see any reason for it being displayed to me, apart from complete and utter desperation on the part of Facebook

    1. Elmer Phud

      Smug git icon requirred

      " 99.9% of the time I see an advert on Facebook I can't see any reason for it being displayed to me, apart from complete and utter desperation on the part of Facebook"

      AdBlock (and add another filter for any links to photos with 'zuckerberg' in the filename)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smug git icon requirred

        Yes I know about Adblock - but it doesn't work on the browser on my phone......

        1. Wade Burchette

          Re: Smug git icon requirred

          FireFox for Android supports AdBlock.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Smug git icon requirred

            I highly doubt it blocks ads that are stuck in your feed, which is how FB serves most ads. Certainly it won't block ads in in the Facebook app, which is how almost all mobile users use Facebook.

            You know how the saying goes, the internet (and internet companies) view censorship as damage, and route around it. Adblock is becoming less and less effective as its usage becomes more prevalent. I'm seeing more and more sites that I have to disable Adblock on to actually see the content I went to see, because they manage to make it and the ads come from the same place so it is an all or nothing decision. Or some like Seeking Alpha, which can figure out you're using Adblock and refuse to show you content at all until you disable Adblock for the site.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smug git icon requirred

          Using OpenDNS and setting the adblocking options seems to work fairly well for blocking quite a few ads on iOS, at least when on wifi. It also kills ads in at least some of the apps.

  4. Erik4872

    Serious question...

    I know advertisers are all about eyeballs and stuff, but does the average person actually look at an ad, let alone click on it?

    Other than looking at the ads served up by Google for a microsecond and saying "wow, that's creepy that they know I was searching for flights to Minneapolis and old computer parts on eBay", I don't think I've ever paid attention to an online ad. Maybe Facebook thinks that by injecting ads more directly into the news feed they can trick people into clicking them. But are people really that stupid? I know, I know, "yes."

    I just don't get how businesses have success advertising. I'm 100% immune to it, and have never bought a product based on an ad campaign. Have I bought something because a trusted person has said I should take a look at this? Yes. But not a "ooh, that's a shiny ad, the product must be awesome" kind of response. It seems to me that businesses should focus on getting customers to recommend them, maybe even by paying them, rather than spraying random ads on the Internet and hoping they get some sucker to bite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serious question...

      I think racking up the pain with targeted ads can be quite counter productive. I used to allow google text ads through ABP on the basis that they were popular with a lot of the small blogs I read and some at least pay (tiny amounts) per impression. When they started targeting I blocked Google as well since they did actually start to catch my eye, which grated and therefore they all had to go. I think all advertising is ultimately self limiting, probably in direct proportion to the advertisers sense of restraint which appears to be non-existent.

    2. beep54

      Re: Serious question...

      Consider this then: Why do you think spam hasn't died off? Obviously, because it works enough of the time. Same seems to be true of advertising (which I find really depressing) although how the outlay for it is justified is beyond me. I too am fairly immune to ads, except in a negative way. To this day I refuse to buy Tide detergent because their ads totally pissed me off nearly fifty years ago. As to FB, I'll just leave you with this:

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something?

    Still not missing the account I closed a few weeks back nor the one that facebook locked me out of unless I provide faxes of passport etc.

    I wonder if both of these former 'shadow' accounts of mine are still counted in their user/advertising stats?

  6. Technological Viking

    1000 cuts

    Out of respect for the products and services I enjoy, if I had a Facebook account I would hide the ads that ARE relevant to me, so that the companies I support don't need to waste money on me, while the companies I dislike would be all over my page spending money on a false target.

  7. Robert Heffernan

    Targeted ads missing the point

    The really odd thing I found is I recently bought some domain names from company 'X'. Before I bought them I was getting served up random un-targeted shit ads, Now I am getting spammed left and right on every site I visit wooing me to buy domain names from company 'X'. It's a bit late guys. I don't need any more domain names!

  8. Chris G

    Missing the point

    Is Farcebook really so naive that they think the ads you don't block are the ones you want to see?

    By that token most blokes should be inundated with Victoria's secret ads or similar since most blokes are unlikely to block luscious ladies in their undies.

    I also find it unlikely that anyone should block particular ads just because that subject matter is not interesting for them, as said above; I imagine it is a case of all or nothing for most people.

    Personally I am not really aware of ads in general although this morning for the first time I can remember on El Reg I clicked on an ad for Via Embedded which strangely is the banner ad on this page at the moment.

    Yesterday their technology was the subject of a conversation so the ad had the desired effect and made me click on it.

  9. Big-nosed Pengie

    "We don't watch commercials in Olima"

    "We don't buy the plastic crap they sell."

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $50 ! Holy mackeral

    The bubbles expanding again

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about hiding them all

    " often people report or hide an ad"

    I'm guessing hiding them all, all the time, won't reap the ad-free experience one might expect by following this logic.

    I'd be fascinated to see a really in depth long term study on advertising and its effectiveness on the internet. The growth in adblock plus usage and the encouraging development of other ad buggering technology has made 'banner blindness' almost obsolete, and user responses when asked how much they value advertising seem almost universally negative, often very aggressively so. The ad pimps keep ramping up the intensity, but I wonder how much the actually does improve revenues rather than simply adding to the alienation and whether the figures really suggest a glorious future for advertisers or a - wishful thinking no doubt - forthcoming implosion.

    Even if net advertising isn't doomed, facebook is starting to feel like its reaching the peak of its 'wow' factor, hopefully to follow myspace etc into the abyss of interweb history.

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: What about hiding them all

      "I'd be fascinated to see a really in depth long term study on advertising and its effectiveness on the internet."

      Especially a comparative study of web advertising and spam. I suspect they are equally effective, and for the same reasons. Both are extremely cheap to deploy, need only the tiniest response rate, and no one cares about those 99.9999% who filter or just do not react. I think it is well known that typical spam is deliberately obvious - there is no intention to deceive a normal, rational person into inquiring about "Rolex watches from steel that look practically real", the "marks" are the very few who are prone to taking the chance of helping a Lagos widow to salvage her late husband's fortune for a small consideration. Same with ads: just show them to the 0.0001% who *might* click with some non-zero probability [and flashing your brand name to those whose filters are imperfect is useful, too, even if there is no chance they'll click].

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I login to FaceBook once a month for several hours as part of a semi-automated hobby survey. Yesterday's adverts were mostly in the usual two categories.

    1) attractive young women "in my area" who are desperately attracted to me.

    2) services in my "local" area - who are at least 50 miles away in all directions eg locksmiths

    The first category is just people trying to make a fast buck from the internet.

    The second is small businesses who do not appear to be getting the targeted coverage for which they are paying. That is surprising - as I used a valid postcode in my town when I signed up under a fictitious name.

  13. Michael 28

    Ah... this explains a lot!

    Now I understand why my profile page on OKCupid started flashing ads for anaesthesia equipment when I was setting it up.

    (My sister's a nurse... I was looking for a book published by a colleague of hers! Honest!)

    Mine's the lab coat !

  14. Craigie

    little hint to facebook

    I'm never interested in any ads. At all.

  15. chrisp1141

    Instead of "CREEPILY SPECIFIC AD-GLOOP" you could use Ravetree - a social network that doesn't have ads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... or avoid social networking entirely on the basis that if I don't see or speak to certain past acquaintances these days, there's generally a reason, usually the simplest one that we all 'move on'.

      Long term travelling is about the only real use I can see for social networking, and even that's as well dealt with by email.

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