Facebook testing ads based on context from status updates

Facebook ads are a constant source of humor and confusion for users, if my friends list is anything to go by.

Facebook users seem to be baffled and often insulted by the suggestions that pop up in the sidebars of pages on the site. “[Your age]-year-old single moms attend college free in your town!” So I’m undereducated, need a career switch and maybe a new boyfriend? And could stand to lose a few and lighten my teeth? (Targeted ads have come under fire in the past on Facebook for possibly outing closeted gay people.)

Your likes are a source of information for the specific ads shown to you, but now what you add as a status update could influence the offerings as well. While this could be inoffensive in the context of telling Facebook friends you could really go for a curry, it might be less so if you’re expressing sadness at the loss of a loved one. AdAge explains how the algorithm would work, and why it could be such a game changer for social media ad targeting:

A user may not have liked any soccer pages or indicated that soccer is an interest, but by sharing his trip to the pub for the World Cup, that user is now part of the Adidas target audience. The moment between a potential customer expressing a desire and deciding on how to fulfill that desire is an advertiser sweet spot, and the real-time ad model puts advertisers in front of a user at that very delicate, decisive moment.

The big difference is timing- capturing people when they’re more vulnerable to suggestion. (Which in and of itself isn’t much different from any kind of advertising at all.) Still, it circles back to the quintessential Facebook question of what happens to all the information you vomit onto the service, and whether a long-term dossier will result from an off-the-cuff remark you made at some point down the line, or if your emotional status updates are sitting on someone’s Excel spreadsheet, somewhere.

Does this development creep you out, or do you assume Facebook is already using your information in this way?

[AdAge via AllFacebook]

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