Do you ever feel like being followed online? Does Facebook access your microphone and listen to the products you wish to browse or buy? No and no – Facebook targets the ads you see based on your online behavior.
Let’s take an example.
John, 25yrs. old, is living in London. He is currently browsing websites for a pair of white sneakers using his mobile phone. When he’s at work, he usually checks his Facebook during free time. One day, he noticed that the ads he’s been getting were the exact items he’s been browsing. He thinks this is just coincidence. Could be. But in an advertisers point-of-view this strategy is called Retargeting.
How does this work? Below are possible scenarios.
1. The shoe store targets its ad based on certain criteria.
Businesses can show Facebook ads to people within a certain radius, gender, age, etc. These data were provided by users during Facebook sign-up.
In this case, the store probably advertises to a certain age group, gender or residents of London where John perfectly fits that’s why he received the ad.
2. The shoe store targets its ad by interest-based on on and off Facebook activity.
Facebook knows what customers’ interests are based on what they like and posts on the platform. From there, it determines what ads it’ll show to users.
Here’s the good part, Facebook can also figure out what other sites a user browses with the help of Facebook Pixel. These are tiny pixels the advertisers and businesses embed on their websites. As long as the website has Facebook Pixel installed, Facebook can analyze how each user behaves.
Let’s go back to John, he received the white sneakers ad because the store targets people who browsed on their website.
3. The shoe store targets by email list.
Businesses are allowed to upload their collection of emails on Facebook whom they want to receive their ads. Usually, businesses do this to retarget customers who have purchased or have intention to purchase because the user entrusted his/her email to them.
The store has uploaded their email list and targeted website members for their ads. In this example, John may have signed-up on the store’s website or have purchased on the store where he registered his email.
4. The shoe store works with a third-party data provider.
Advertisers sometimes work with third-party marketing services. These providers get data from sources such as credit card companies, etc.
The shoe store might have worked with a third-party provider where they got John’s email account.
DON’T FREAK OUT! You are exposed to hundreds of ads per day and don’t notice it. You can always check why you’ve received an ad by clicking on the 3 dots on the top right corner. It won’t give specific details but at least you’ll get an idea.