How Facebook’s Ads Really Work

September 4, 2015

somebodys watching


As I sat on my patio early this morning, I realized that the weather was beginning to cool a bit. And my thoughts turned to boots. Since I always seem to have my phone in my hand, I did a quick Internet search.  I found a website, selling the perfect pair.  They are British “Wellies” and they are expensive.  I decided to check prices on eBay.


As I moved on with my day and the sun got warmer, I forgot all about my early morning foray into boots.  However, eBay and Amazon didn’t forget about me.  When I opened my Facebook page, there were the boots – not just once, but three times.  eBay showed them to me in my News Feed and in the right sidebar – imploring me to “buy now.”  Amazon (they must have been monitoring me and eBay) also invited me to buy the boots through their ad in the right sidebar.


boots


I am now quite sure I NEED these boots!


I hadn’t even opened my Facebook Page before I checked the Internet.  So how did Facebook know I was looking at boots on websites?


Facebook’s Targets Custom and Look-a-Like Audiences


Display ads have been available for a while now. (When I was in the market for a refrigerator a couple of years ago, every time I opened my Google Browser or checked my email, I got an ad for refrigerators.)  Facebook is now joining the ranks of platforms that can tell when people are looking at a website. Website owners can then buy ad space to target anyone who looks at their website – whether or not they are “fans” of their Facebook Page.


But wait, there’s more.  Facebook is probably also displaying ads for boots from Amazon and eBay to other women with cold feet, using a feature that evaluates the online habits of others like me. They are able to display these ads to them.  Using something they call Look-a-Like audiences, Facebook allows businesses to display ads to people on Facebook who are similar to their current fans, enabling them to reach new customers who may be interested in their products.


Facebook also allows companies to target their existing customers (or other contacts). They can upload a list of email addresses that Facebook will use when displaying ads. In other words, since I have already purchased things from Amazon, I am on their customer list. When Amazon sees that I am interested in boots, they can target their boot ads to me.  This feature is great for businesses that would like to encourage people who are already their customers to buy new products from them.


Social Media Marketing is still in its infancy – and still evolving.  However, with over 1.4 Billion members, Facebook is one of the largest and most active communities in the world.  And Facebook is committed to giving its members the best user experience possible, and sometimes a business’s goals align perfectly with Facebook’s, especially when it comes to reminding people that cold, wet weather is coming and they will need boots!


Update – Woke up the next morning and signed into Facebook and this was at the top of my News Feed:


boots 2

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