• 09/30/2013
    11:09 AM
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Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

User feedback on Facebook ads will weigh heavily in changes to news feed algorithm.
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Facebook has said that its ads are so well-targeted that users don't mind the ones that show up in their news feeds among posts from friends and family. But late last week, the social network admitted that there is room for improvement and announced plans to tweak the algorithm that determines which ones show up where.

Hong Ge, engineering manager of news feed ads at Facebook, said in a blog post that the social network's commitment to news feed ads is strong, but it plans to place more emphasis on user feedback.

"In addition to improving the quality of the ads themselves, we are also continuously trying to optimize when and where we're showing ads," Ge said. "We are currently working on some updates to the ads algorithm to improve the relevance and quality of the ads people see."

Facebook takes into account both what marketers and users want when it determines which ads to serve to whom. Marketers, for example, might want to target an ad to users ages 18 to 35 in a specific city and spend $500 to reach that audience. When a user interacts with that ad -- by clicking, liking, commenting on or sharing it -- the news feed learns that these ads are relevant to them. Similarly, if a user hides an ad, the news feed learns that the person wants to see fewer of those types of ads.

[ How can you avoid nosy Facebook searchers? Read Three Facebook Privacy Settings to Check. ]

Now, the social network said it will place more emphasis on the feedback it receives from users about ads, including how often users report or hide one. For users, this will improve the relevancy of ads, showing fewer of the ones that you might not be interested in, Facebook said. For marketers, Facebook said this means it will show ads to people who might want to see them most. The social network also said that marketers can expect to see "some variation" in the distribution of the ads in the coming weeks.

Facebook has spent increasing time and energy focusing on its advertising platform and strategy. Earlier this month, the social network announced that it is testing video ads in news feeds with a small group of mobile users. The ads initially play silently, according to reports, and can be expanded into a full-screen view with audio. If you don't want to watch the video, Facebook says you can scroll past it.

In July, reports swirled that Facebook planned to sell TV-style video ads that would appear in users' news feeds for between $1 million and $2.5 million a day. These ads, which are expected to be 15 seconds long, are said to be targeted to users' interests and demographics. Reports said users could expect to see video ads in their news feed up to three times a day.

Most recently, privacy groups lashed out after Facebook made changes to its data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities that allowed the social network to profit from users by using their personal data in advertising. Facebook has since postponed the privacy policy rollout.


re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Facebook ads have never even come close to targeting me well. I have been seeing weight loss ads for months. There is nothing linked to diet or weight loss in my online history.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

I am tired of seeing those same ads with the ridiculously dangerous methods for weight loss!

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Those should really be banned, coming from my "it's like a facebook friend giving you shopping tips" perspective on Facebooks ads, there should really be some quality control for the types of advertised services.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

I find online ads are largely useless.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

I agree banner ads are largely useless, but Facebook is pretty clever in how they pop up in the news feeds, it's almost like one of your friends is suggesting a product you would like. I can't avoid reading them. As for the side ads, I can't say much about their effectiveness.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Facebook ads are spot on for me. They know what I've been looking at (I'm an avid online shopper) and direct me to a lot of related sites. I actually - can't believe I'm writing this - enjoy the ads because I find a lot of great ideas that way. I also interact with the ads, hiding and sharing as necessary to help them become more fined tuned - similar to liking and skipping a song on Pandora. Those ads aren't going anywhere, I might as well make the best of it.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Most Facebook ads target me pretty well and are infrequent enough not to be distracting. Just today an ad in my news feed was brought to me by Heineken and I can't argue with that. But I don't like how they are called "suggested posts" and are designed to look like a shared content coming from a friend. It's a little deceptive, but I can live with them as long as they're not intrusive.

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Do this initiative apply to mobile as well?

re: Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

Does this initiative apply to mobile as well?