Online marketers, take note. When you create a Facebook ad that targets key populations with certain interests or that fall into specific age groups, these consumers will be able to view the filters companies have placed on their target audiences.
TIME Money revealed this summer that these demographics parameters are visible to consumers on Facebook through a discreet window that can be viewed from your sidebar ads. The visibility of this data may lead to interesting interactions, especially if consumers begin to take an active role in altering their advertising preferences to fit their needs.
See how advertisers target you
As an online marketer, you can see just how accurate Facebook audience filters are by taking look at your own Facebook page. Hover over a sponsored ad on the right side of your newsfeed and click on the small “x” symbol in the top right corner of the ad.
Click on “Why am I seeing this.” A small window opens and states why you have been selected to view the ad.
You might have defined a keyword in your interests, or perhaps you visited a commercial website earlier in the week, which triggered the ad. Online marketers should take note of these descriptions.
Do they seem accurate, and at least loosely related to your interests, or are they completely off the mark? Take these dynamics into consideration the next time you craft your next Facebook advertisement.
Why this visibility matters
The tables have been turned. Consumers have been open books to online marketers: their interests laid bare for Facebook to match ads with people who seem to fit the demographic that businesses want to connect with.
But now consumers can see specifically which people you’re targeting for your business. Most consumers know that Facebook ads are here to stay, and there’s no real way to maneuver away from them.
By being able to see these demographic stats, however, consumers can take greater control over the marketing campaigns they encounter, by altering their ad preferences. This reduces off-the-mark advertising, helps consumers see the products they’re interested in, and enables advertisers reach the correct audiences.
It’s a triple-win situation for Facebook, social media users, and businesses.
Let’s say a completely inappropriate ad appears in a consumer’s newsfeed. Once the person discovers the reason he or she received this advertisement, the consumer has the option to “View and manage your ad preferences.”
This crucial portal allows users to tweak their , so that campaigns guide the products to people who are most likely to purchase. There are more than eleven main categories under these settings, including food, lifestyle, people, technology, and entertainment.
Within these categories, dozens of options can be culled from a user’s page likes, previous ad clicks, and an array of other online behaviors. Users have the power to toggle these topics on and off, so they can fine-tune their exposure to ads.
The need for specificity
These publicly viewable demographic and interest lists respond to the need for marketing specificity. Facebook enables advertisers to connect with increasingly specific markets.
It’s vital to define your target audiences accurately, rather than with sloppy generalizations. Consumers are able to take an active hand in ad participation, by providing feedback that will connect them with more relevant advertising. Companies cannot afford to miss out on such opportunities.
Facebook’s increased demographic visibility creates a two-way dialog between consumers and advertisers. It’s going to be useful for your company’s marketing efforts to become aligned with increasingly specialized demographic needs, while staying aware of Facebook’s terms of service, ethical business practices, and confidentiality laws.
Instead of passively viewing ads, consumers can refine their online identities and view the ads they’d prefer to see.