This past October, Facebook rolled out its initial testing of interest-specific newsfeeds. Think of the current newsfeed as a newspaper, only with all the articles jumbled together without sections. This feature would now give users the chance to view different sections, or feeds, specific to interests they select.
According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this new feature is an attempt to offer its users “the best personalized newspaper.” While that’s an added bonus, the most likely goal is to juice ad inventory and increase time spent browsing Facebook.
However, as a digital advertiser, this presents a much needed opportunity. If this change goes live across all users, it would offer drastically improved targeting abilities and efficiency of ad spend. No longer would Facebook’s algorithms exclusively analyze users to determine interests based on clicks, likes, shares, and friends’ behavior – users would now have the option to categorize their own interests.
At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Great, now advertisers have one more outlet to target me with ads that I don’t want to see.” Well, another more likely outcome is that you see far more relevant advertising based on industries and categories that you’ve specifically chosen! In fact, one could argue that this actually gives you more control than before. Increasingly relevant advertising makes not only for a more efficient spend for marketers, but a better ad experience for users.
So how does Facebook’s ad platform currently handle interest targeting? As an advertiser, you’re given the option to select specific interests that you’d like to target, then Facebook gives you an estimated reach – or number of people you’d be targeting – for that interest. According to Facebook, this feature allows you to target “people who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to your specified interest.”
But this isn’t exactly a foolproof targeting method. By targeting an audience derived from other page’s likes, you’re putting a lot of trust into the authenticity of that page’s followers. It’s an unfortunate truth, but many of these companies/people still purchase fake “likes” for their pages.
For example, let’s say you’re targeting the interest “coffee shops,” which includes any users who have liked Dave’s Coffee Shop. However, Dave recently purchased 10,000 likes from a click farm. These click farms employ teams of low-paid workers in developing countries to create thousands of fake Facebook accounts, then use those accounts to like pages like Dave’s. While this makes his shop appear more popular on the surface, these fake likes severely dilute his page’s overall reach and engagement. As an advertiser depending on the authenticity of his likes, your reach and impressions would be severely overstated.
Here’s the point: While the current interest targeting options can be useful, they leave room for improvement. Facebook’s new interest-specific newsfeeds would provide a much needed upgrade to interest targeting for advertisers, while also enhancing user experiences through increased ad relevancy.
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