Privacy Basics via Facebook

Privacy Basics via Facebook

Privacy Basics Via Facebook

What is Privacy Basics?

The short answer is, Privacy Basics is bad for marketing but good for Facebook users in general. The long answer is, well, it’s complicated.

Privacy Basics – The Basics

On January 1, 2015, Facebook will be rolling out some changes. Imagine that – a social network making changes! (Sarcasm intended.) New features, new controls, blah, blah, blah. Or is it? Enter Privacy Basics.

If you look at the info on updated terms that Facebook put out recently, you’ll see that much of the intent is to give control “back” to the Facebook user and simultaneously address privacy concerns that have been raised recently. They’ve bundled much of this into something that they call “Privacy Basics” and you can read all about how to use Facebook more wisely, how to make purchases safely, how to sort through the fine print, and more.

The interesting thing about the introduction of these Facebook updates coming your way is that the landing page announcement is split into thirds. The first third is about the rationale for these changes, the second third captures a few bulleted items of explanation of what will be different, but the final third of the information is focused on “Giving you more control over ads.” A third of the important information here is about ads. A third!

Facebook Ad Preferences

On the one hand, Facebook is making it harder and harder to organically use their platform for marketing. Fair enough. They have to earn a living, too. The days of free social media marketing are long gone; we know that, and most marketers, the good ones like us, have developed new strategies, effective campaigns, and yes, actual marketing budgets! However, with Privacy Basics, marketers will have a diminished audience IF Facebook users are willing to go through the steps it takes to control their Newsfeed.

Here’s an example. This ad showed up in my Facebook Newsfeed as a Sponsored Page with the suggestion to “Like” the Page.

Newsfeed Ad 1

In the upper right-hand corner, I can see more information about why I’m seeing this ad when I click on the drop-down option.

Newsfeed Ad 2

A new window pops up, like the one below, and not only does it tell me why I’m seeing that ad, it may contain very specific demographic targeting, depending on the advertiser. The one below is pretty generic, as I’m labeled “similar” to their audience based on the “Pages you’ve liked and ads and posts you’ve clicked on.” I’ve looked a several ads recently, and some are pretty specific on the targeting that’s used to reach me.

Why am I seeing this ad?

IF I want to take the time to check my Facebook Ad Preferences options, I can click on “Manage Your Ad Preferences” and I will see this information. (Note: This is not information I have volunteered to Facebook, but information Facebook has determined I am interested in based on my behavior on Facebook.)

Facebook Ad Preferences

One by one, I can look at each of these 226 categories for which I’m “targeted” and remove any individual topics that I don’t want to be “known for” which will in turn, according to Privacy Basics, restrict or eliminate the ads I see for products or services in that category. But here’s where it gets amusing. Let me just say that I got a few good laughs out of some of the items that showed up in the full lists under each category, but here’s one of the smaller target categories for which I’m supposedly a good candidate. In the “People” category, I see the following sub-markets:

Facebook Ad Preferences 2

I’m pretty sure that Dave Ramsey would love being in the category with God, but I don’t know how Robert Downey, Jr. would feel about it! (Okay, he might like it – Iron Man certainly would!)

Now, this doesn’t mean that marketers have to have all three elements in their targeting to reach me. Any of these three “People” targeting options will likely produce an ad in my Newsfeed. Or, I can remove any of these (or the other 223 topics) to reduce the number of ads for which I fall into the target audience. This will take time, and it’s likely that I’ll have to do this on a regular basis because my ongoing behavior will continue to affect these categories.

So, back to marketing and Privacy Basics. Not every Facebook user will take the time to go through the categories for which they’re targeted according to Facebook, but some will. Many will continue to click on the “I don’t want to see this” option, too, which you may have noticed is the most dominant option on any Facebook ad drop-down menu. Facebook makes this one very easy and quick. Having this control will definitely make many Facebook users much happier with their overall experience. From a marketing perspective, however, be aware that your target audience will become smaller. Whether it’s a result of declining organic reach, a refusal to set aside marketing dollars for Facebook ads, poorly targeted Facebook ads, or Facebook users who filter you out in the increasing ways available to them, smaller audiences on Facebook are the new norm.  Tweet this

We have a plan for that. Do you?

Image Credit: Gil C /

About the Author

Camille RodriquezCamille Rodriquez is the founder and owner of Polka Dot Impressions. She speaks and writes regularly about social media marketing strategies and trends, and she is also the author of a Christian devotional titled, "When I Die - On Being, Living, and Having the Last Word."View all posts by Camille Rodriquez →