Facebook is looking to cash in on this mother lode of personal information by helping advertisers pinpoint exactly whom they want to reach, reports Jessica Guynn of the Los Angeles Times. This is no idle boast. Facebook doesn’t have to guess who its users are or what they like. Facebook KNOWS, because members volunteer this information freely – and frequently – in their profiles, status updates, wall posts, messages and ‘likes.’ It’s now tracking this activity, shooting online ads to users based on their demographics, interests, even what they say to friends on the site – sometimes within minutes of them typing a key word or phrase. For example, women who have changed their relationship status to ‘engaged’ on their Facebook profiles shouldn’t be surprised to see ads from local wedding planners and caterers pop up when they log in.
“Hedgehog lovers who type that word in a post might see an ad for a plush toy version of the spiny critters from Squishable.com. Middle-aged men who list motorcycling as one of their hobbies could get pitches from Victory Motorcycles. If a Facebook user becomes a fan of 1-800-FLOWERS, her friends might receive ads telling them that she likes the floral delivery service. … Facebook says it does not disclose information that would allow advertisers to identify individual users, but filters them based on geography, age or specific interests. It also lets users control whether companies such as 1-800-FLOWERS can display the users’ names to others to promote products. But any information users post on the site – hobbies, status updates, wall posts – is fair game for ad targeting.” Continue reading Guynn’s article here.