Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Messing with social ads

There's been a lot of chatter lately about Facebook hijacking personal photos for their ads. Wasn't that big a deal to me, because it's just a matter of updating privacy settings. That's the least of my problems with social advertising.

I'm not a big fan of most of the social ads I get on Facebook. They tend to be rather stupid. But what really bothers me is what it says about how I'm being profiled.

For example, I don't post a lot of demographic information, but my profile does say that I am married. And yet it seems to get me more "singles" ads:

And then there's my age, which isn't public info but is (I assume) read by the advertising apps. So I get this:

I just hope it wasn't targeting using using biometrics :(

And then there's the content of my posts, often about the advertising industry. Which generated this unintentionally hilarious ad:

But, as an adman, I just hate being pidgeonholed by my own people. That's why I've set out to mess with Facebook ads in any way possible.

The first thing I did was become a fan of a bunch of random things, in a number of foreign languages. But all that got me was a bunch of travel ads.

So now what I'm doing is using the "feedback" function on social ads. If you click the little "X" at the top right of an ad, it asks you why you want to baleet it:

- Misleading
- Offensive
- Uninteresting
- Irrelevant
- Repetitive
- Other

"Annoying", "Trollicious" and "Makes me feel like a creepy old man" are not on the list, but you have the option to add those in.

So, I've started marking up every Facebook ad I hate. Online games, get-rich-quick schemes, fad diets, anything I think is stupid.

And what did it get me?

I give up.


  1. Now you will get ads for anti-depressants or suicide hotlines.

  2. The keywords give interesting results, too.

    Last week, I was filming a commercial at Les Forges steel mill in Sorel, Quebec, and posted a photo album about it. Today, I have a social ad for Sorel Boots. Coincidence? I think not!

    I also get ads related to anthropology and psychology, as well as psychics (I'm assuming that last one was just keyed to "psych")...

  3. I did some similar experiments a few months ago. I found the most useful thing was to tell Facebook which ads I *did* like (e.g. concerts in Ottawa), and I did actually start seeing more of those, and fewer of the really awkward or get-rich-quick type.

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