Facebook Tries To Make Ads Less Annoying

User feedback on Facebook ads will weigh heavily in changes to news feed algorithm.

Kristin Burnham

September 30, 2013

3 Min Read
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10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

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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.

About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

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