Facebook is a publicly traded company. As such, its success isn’t just measured in traffic or users, but first and foremost in revenue. In other words, Facebook is pressured to make more money. But where does this money come from?
The social network is a free service and all its unique content is generated by its users. This does not leave the site with a whole lot of options to earn money. What Facebook does have, however, is a large number of active users and a huge amount of associated user data.
The most profitable way for Facebook to increase its revenue is to work closer with advertisers. Facebook can help advertisers get more face time with its users or use social advertising features to make their products more appealing to the user. And this isn’t a bad way of making business, it’s just different from what we have been used to.
Facebook explains the strategy in more detail on its advertising page.
Personalized Ads On & Outside of Facebook
Facebook is leading the way when it comes to social advertising. For example have you ever seen the profile pic of a friend in a list of people who have Liked a page? I bet it stood out like a sore thumb to you.
This isn’t coincidence. You were probably logged into Facebook, one of your friends had really Liked the site, and Facebook or the advertiser made sure you would see that. The more important that friend is to you, the more compelled you felt to Like the respective site yourself. And maybe the familiar face gave you enough of a kick to actually Like the page. Overall, the odds are stacked in favor of the advertisers. Did you know you can even see ads shown to you recently on your Ad Board?
We will continue to see ever new forms of such clever advertising that creatively harnesses user data. In terms of revenue, it’s just too good to be passed up on. And for users who enjoy free services, it’s absolutely brilliant if this strategy works for companies.
Actively Opting Out Of Social Ads
Some of us don’t feel comfortable with having our profiles associated with products, even if we consciously Liked a page. Personally, I don’t mind having my own browsing behavior tracked. However, I don’t want to be responsible for sales of products, just because I accidentally Liked them at some point in the past.
Facebook offers ways to opt out of two types of social ads. First, third party sites can show a social context via social plugins. Second, Facebook pairs ads and friends to show you what your friends have Liked.
To change those settings, head over to the Facebook Ads section in your Account Settings. Click on Edit in the top right of each of the two options, select No one for each of them, then click Save Changes to opt out of these types of ads.
Note that Facebook apps can potentially send messages to your Timeline and thus spam your friends’ News Feed with ads. Here is how you can remove those apps and ensure app privacy.
We have previously shown you how you can block those ads or at least starve them of information. While it is your free choice to block ads, please keep in mind that they are the main income stream for many free services, including MakeUseOf.
Passively Opting Out
The only sure way you can prevent Facebook from using your data for advertising purposes, is to not use Facebook. It’s as simple as that. Close your account and be done with it. I think that’s the worst option as it doesn’t really solve anything. Instead, try to consciously use free services like Facebook. Don’t blindly Like brands or pages, but do think of the consequences. What will your friends think?
What do you think of social advertising? Is there a way to escape from it or is it taking over the Internet?