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Old 02-06-2020, 12:20 PM
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How appropriate to your personal interests are targeted ads you see on Facebook (or other media)?


I'm more curious about this than complaining. My understanding is that Facebook uses sophisticated algorithms to decide what ads to show in your feed based on what you've shown interest in in the past and other factors. Yet the majority of ads I see are for things I have never purchased, shown any interest in, or would ever consider purchasing, despite telling Facebook repeatedly that I'm not interested.

I frequently get ads for role-playing or other games, cool hip clothing, pets, things for kids, etc. I've never played any on line or digital games, I buy functional clothes (especially for camping), and don't have any pets or children. If I keep seeing such an ad repeatedly, I click "Hide ad," and when it asks for a reason I say "Irrelevant." Yet I keep seeing similar ads. On the other hand, I rarely if ever see ads for birding or nature tours, field clothes, camping equipment, binoculars, cameras, conservation organizations, or anything to do with science - all things I have purchased or shown interest in on line.

I don't really mind seeing ads per se. But continually seeing ads for stuff I have zero interest in is annoying. I might actually like to see ads for stuff I like. And Facebook is wasting their advertisers money by showing me ads for stuff I am never going to buy.

So what's up? What is your experience with ads? Why does their algorithm seem so bad?

Another anomaly, although not so bad, is their "people you may know" feature. Mostly they show me people who have a lot of mutual friends with me. But they also show me people with only a single mutual contact, and that's someone who I've never interacted with (or interacted with me) besides friending. (They are usually friends or relatives of friends). Maybe they're showing me every possible contact, but it seems the space would be better used for people with more connections or at least similar interests.

Occasionally I'll get a suggestion of someone with whom I have no friends or interests in common. Over the past few months, I keep getting the same suggestion for "people you may know" of a pretty young woman in Hanoi. Now, I've never been to Vietnam and don't even have any Vietnamese acquaintances. I regularly get "Friend Requests" from pretty young women I have never heard of, which are clearly scamming attempts and which I delete and report as spam. But this one seems to be suggested by Facebook itself. She hasn't made a friend request attempted contact herself, yet keeps showing up. So why is Facebook showing me this? It's not just once, it's repeatedly for months. Could she be influencing this, and if so, how?

ETA: I just checked, and my current ads are for vintage boots, weighted blankets, stylish vests, surgical masks, gifts for pets, and "Treehuggers bracelets" to support conservation in Australia. I would only have interest in the last one.

Last edited by Colibri; 02-06-2020 at 12:31 PM.
  #2  
Old 02-06-2020, 12:54 PM
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Most of mine are political or travel related and they can at least be relevant. I still find it amusing to get Visit Manitoba ads constantly. Somehow I don’t think of Winnipeg as a vacation destination especially in winter.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:14 PM
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My ads are pretty well targeted. It might be because I am quite free with letting FB know my browsing habits (as in, I don't block their tracking cookies that are on other sites). And from time to time I click on ads, so I'm sure that adds to their data.

Sometimes ads do get wonky, but it's almost 100% because I went to a web site for work. Like I keep getting ads for a machinery trade show, because I went to the machinery trade show's page for work.

Colibri do you run anything in your browser that blocks FB tracking? I know that the latest versions of Firefox push this as a feature. If FB can't track your interests outside of itself, it might just be throwing any old ads at you.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
Most of mine are political or travel related and they can at least be relevant.
That's another one. Even though my family and friends (who share my politics) post a lot of political links, which I often "like" or share, I can't recall seeing a political ad for years, and that was for the direct opposite of my political leanings. Maybe I don't get political ads because I'm in Panama, but that doesn't stop me from getting other US specific ads.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:19 PM
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Colibri do you run anything in your browser that blocks FB tracking? I know that the latest versions of Firefox push this as a feature. If FB can't track your interests outside of itself, it might just be throwing any old ads at you.
I use AdBlock for most sites, but I still see ads on Facebook. I do occasionally click on ads on Facebook, and hide ads that are irrelevant, but this doesn't seem to have any effect. In particular, I would think always telling them that certain kinds of ads are irrelevant would reduce the number of similar ads I see.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:27 PM
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There algorithm is getting scary good.

A couple of months ago, I saw a jar of Blue Plate mayo. I remembered people on this board talking about what a great mayonnaise it is, so I bought it.

The next thing you know, BP ads are showing up on my FB feed.


A couple of days ago, I bought a bottle of Frenches Mustard. Those ads are now running on my FB feed.

I never Google searched either one of these, but FB still knows somehow.

I'm tempted to say they have somehow tapped into my Kroger's card. But Kroger doesn't know my Facebook handle.

It's all very surreal.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:13 PM
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I get a bunch of ads for Kickstarters for RPG gaming stuff. Those are reasonably targeted as I both play RPGs and sometimes buy RPG stuff from Kickstarter. I sometimes get ads for website building software and similar things that have nothing to do with me at all. And I regularly get ads for weight loss shakes and related products that are laughably out of my wheelhouse but usually have an attractive model so there's worse non-targeted ads I can scroll past, I guess. Sometimes I get an ad for a store or item I looked at online but not often enough to freak me out. I know it's based off my cookies but it's not as though it dominates my ads.

The suggested groups are often hilariously wrong with it recently spending a month trying to get me to join Indonesian dating groups. Not written in English, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
That's another one. Even though my family and friends (who share my politics) post a lot of political links, which I often "like" or share, I can't recall seeing a political ad for years, and that was for the direct opposite of my political leanings. Maybe I don't get political ads because I'm in Panama, but that doesn't stop me from getting other US specific ads.
I regularly post political stuff and belong to a political group or two but almost never see an ad. I think I got one or two for Warren in the past six months and once got a Trump ad that I X'd right out of.

Last edited by Jophiel; 02-06-2020 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:24 PM
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This is what I notice on Firefox where stay logged in to my family-friends FB account. Almost every ad I see is about autism either trying to sell me a stupid puzzle piece tee shirt or they're begging for a DNA sample so they can hurry up and cure all those poor diseased autistic people. It's infuriating too, because there is really no way to filter these ads. On Chrome I stay logged in to an account I made especially for my work group. I don't know what the difference is technically but the only ads I see lately have been for overpriced socks and Chewy.com. It makes sense about Chewy because I search their site a lot and I do order from them but where they get the idea I want to look at 35 dollar socks I do not know. I can't recall ever searching for any sock at any time and I'm talking about a dozen different companies are pushing their socks on me!

In addition to ads I'm curious about their post hiding algorithm. One example: I follow Bill Gates' official FB account. When I load my timeline if he has posted it will briefly pop up on my timeline and then it goes away like some political ads do. I have to go directly to his page to see what he's posted. Why is FB blocking Bill Gates from my timeline? I have his posts set to follow, see first, all posts.
  #9  
Old 02-06-2020, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
A couple of months ago, I saw a jar of Blue Plate mayo. I remembered people on this board talking about what a great mayonnaise it is, so I bought it.

The next thing you know, BP ads are showing up on my FB feed.
This has to be a problem for advertisers, right? I mean it happens all the time that I buy something, and only then start seeing tons of ads for it. Maybe that's an okay strategy for mayonnaise. If you bought it once, you probably like it, and you'll probably need to buy it again. So might as well keep that brand name fresh in your mind so you aren't tempted to try Duke's next time you're at the grocery store.

But I'm talking about things that are one time purchases, or at least very infrequent purchases. Like the Berkey water filter that's supposed to last ten years before needing replacement filter cartridges. I didn't see any ads for the Berkey until I bought it and now they're everywhere. And the "buy it and then see ads for it" phenomenon is not eternal. I bought a pair of pants I like, and then I got tons of ads for those specific pants (but not any others?). A year or two later though, when I might be considering a replacement pair, those ads are nowhere to be found.

That has to be a problem for advertisers, right? Their ads are reactive, not proactive. So often, you're advertising to people who already bought the product and not the potential buyers who might need to be pushed in that direction.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:15 PM
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One thing that needs to be considered here is not just how good, or otherwise, Facebook and others are at targeting ads but how well the buyer of the ads has selected their target audience.

Case in point, this morning I'm seeing ads for "Used Forestry Equipment". Now that's a pretty niche product. It's possible that an ad server genuinely believes I'm a potential customer based on my previous browsing but I struggle to think of anything in my professional and personal interests which would justify me being shown that. It comes down to a guess in the end but I would say some buyers fail to sufficiently narrow the focus of ads and so people browsing get to see some weird ads due to that and not due to an ad server defect.

I never use Facebook (although obviously they use me), the ads I'm thinking of I've seen on YouTube and Twitter.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
I'm tempted to say they have somehow tapped into my Kroger's card. But Kroger doesn't know my Facebook handle.
Almost certainly. Kroger knows your credit card number and there are lots of ways to link a credit card to a person.
  #12  
Old 02-06-2020, 07:40 PM
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Almost certainly. Kroger knows your credit card number and there are lots of ways to link a credit card to a person.
Yeah, after this thread, I got curious and did some Googling. FB absolutely does have ties to your shoppers card. a list of all the creepy things FB knows about you. (From Gizmodo)

Location
Age
Generation
Gender
Language
Education level
Field of study
School
Ethnic affinity
Income and net worth
Home ownership and type
Home value
Property size
Square footage of home
Year home was built
Household composition
Users who have an anniversary within 30 days
Users who are away from family or hometown
Users who are friends with someone who has an anniversary, is newly married or engaged, recently moved, or has an upcoming birthday
Users in long-distance relationships
Users in new relationships
Users who have new jobs
Users who are newly engaged
Users who are newly married
Users who have recently moved
Users who have birthdays soon
Parents
Expectant parents
Mothers, divided by “type” (soccer, trendy, etc.)
Users who are likely to engage in politics
Conservatives and liberals
Relationship status
Employer
Industry
Job title
Office type
Interests
Users who own motorcycles
Users who plan to buy a car (and what kind/brand of car, and how soon)
Users who bought auto parts or accessories recently
Users who are likely to need auto parts or services
Style and brand of car you drive
Year car was bought
Age of car
How much money user is likely to spend on next car
Where user is likely to buy next car
How many employees your company has
Users who own small businesses
Users who work in management or are executives
Users who have donated to charity (divided by type)
Operating system
Users who play canvas games
Users who own a gaming console
Users who have created a Facebook event
Users who have used Facebook Payments
Users who have spent more than average on Facebook Payments
Users who administer a Facebook page
Users who have recently uploaded photos to Facebook
Internet browser
Email service
Early/late adopters of technology
Expats (divided by what country they are from originally)
Users who belong to a credit union, national bank or regional bank
Users who investor (divided by investment type)
Number of credit lines
Users who are active credit card users
Credit card type
Users who have a debit card
Users who carry a balance on their credit card
Users who listen to the radio
Preference in TV shows
Users who use a mobile device (divided by what brand they use)
Internet connection type
Users who recently acquired a smartphone or tablet
Users who access the Internet through a smartphone or tablet
Users who use coupons
Types of clothing user’s household buys
Time of year user’s household shops most
Users who are “heavy” buyers of beer, wine or spirits
Users who buy groceries (and what kinds)
Users who buy beauty products
Users who buy allergy medications, cough/cold medications, pain relief products, and over-the-counter meds
Users who spend money on household products
Users who spend money on products for kids or pets, and what kinds of pets
Users whose household makes more purchases than is average
Users who tend to shop online (or off)
Types of restaurants user eats at
Kinds of stores user shops at
Users who are “receptive” to offers from companies offering online auto insurance, higher education or mortgages, and prepaid debit cards/satellite TV
Length of time user has lived in house
Users who are likely to move soon
Users who are interested in the Olympics, fall football, cricket or Ramadan
Users who travel frequently, for work or pleasure
Users who commute to work
Types of vacations user tends to go on
Users who recently returned from a trip
Users who recently used a travel app
Users who participate in a timeshare

Link
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:06 PM
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How appropriate to your personal interests are targeted ads...

Not. At. All.

My problem is that I often click on random links that people post here, or on imgur. Yesterday, I opened an Amazon link to a Legend of Zelda bike bag. Today it was a Spirited Away No-Face piggy bank ...

... so I know now I'll be getting ads aimed at gamers and anime fans. I'm still getting targeted with bespoke expensive leather notebooks because I clicked on a couple back in December (the previous decade, yet!).


ETA: On the plus side, if I'm trying to confuse the Marketing Illuminati, it's working...

Last edited by digs; 02-06-2020 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
Case in point, this morning I'm seeing ads for "Used Forestry Equipment". Now that's a pretty niche product. It's possible that an ad server genuinely believes I'm a potential customer based on my previous browsing but I struggle to think of anything in my professional and personal interests which would justify me being shown that.
See. You're getting my ads.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I use AdBlock for most sites, but I still see ads on Facebook.
Disable AdBlock, then make sure your browser is set to allow third party cookies/cross-site tracking and tell us what happens.

Last edited by zbuzz; 02-06-2020 at 11:09 PM.
  #16  
Old 02-06-2020, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
But continually seeing ads for stuff I have zero interest in is annoying.
I don't do FB, but in general & for other sites I disagree; seeing ads for things I'd never get makes it easier to scroll past them &/or close them, keeping my $ in my pocket.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:57 PM
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I don't really see any ads on Facebook, just the typical game ads which have nothing to do with the actual game and occasionally a link to some product. One recent product link was something that a relative on Facebook would be interested in but I posted the link from the website on his wall rather than sharing the Facebook post.

Other sites are pretty much keyed to items I recent viewed on sites like eBay.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Occasionally I'll get a suggestion of someone with whom I have no friends or interests in common. Over the past few months, I keep getting the same suggestion for "people you may know" of a pretty young woman in Hanoi. Now, I've never been to Vietnam and don't even have any Vietnamese acquaintances. I regularly get "Friend Requests" from pretty young women I have never heard of, which are clearly scamming attempts and which I delete and report as spam. But this one seems to be suggested by Facebook itself. She hasn't made a friend request attempted contact herself, yet keeps showing up. So why is Facebook showing me this? It's not just once, it's repeatedly for months. Could she be influencing this, and if so, how?
There are companies which specialize in accumulating friends and/or likes. I used to be a friend of a local entertainer who utilized one of those services.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 02-06-2020 at 11:58 PM.
  #18  
Old 02-07-2020, 09:40 AM
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I have a bra size that isn't super easy to find: Small ribcage, larger bust. I've spent a lot of time looking online for larger cup bras. So naturally, I get all these plus-size only ads all over :eyeroll: If they aren't plus-sized, they're stores with pretty much zero size range, which also does me no good.

The one store I do like buying bras from is ALL OVER whatever page I happen to be viewing, which I appreciate, but like, I KNOW they exist. Thank you.
  #19  
Old 02-07-2020, 10:01 AM
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Very relevant.

Unfortunately (for them) they are usually for things that I've already purchased in the last few days.

I will say that for the exceptions for that, almost everything I've bought on facebook has either been extremely disappointing to downright fraudulent false advertising.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:10 AM
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Well, I can't say how it is working for anyone else, but I always see the targeted ads AFTER I have bought whatever it is that I was searching for. That's really not very useful. LOL
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:48 AM
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Yep, me too. I just moved - I expect to keep seeing ads for moving companies and u-store-it type of places for several more weeks now.

I hired that company like, three weeks ago. Obviously stopped searching around that time.
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:20 PM
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Well, I can't say how it is working for anyone else, but I always see the targeted ads AFTER I have bought whatever it is that I was searching for. That's really not very useful. LOL
I get that a lot too. They seem to think I need more snowblowers. No, one is enough.

But much targeting is mis-targeted. My ISP, the local telecom monopoly, is based two zip codes away, with major operations in the next county, and we're mostly ruggedly rural up here. I see many adverts aimed at locales other than mine, and picturing people and places that don't exist nearby, while offering totally irrelevant products or services. That likely means Big Data hasn't nailed me down yet. Whew.
  #23  
Old 02-08-2020, 02:05 PM
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Disable AdBlock, then make sure your browser is set to allow third party cookies/cross-site tracking and tell us what happens.
Thanks for the suggestion, but while I'm curious about what's happening, I don't want to go that far. While I'd rather get targeted ads rather than ridiculous ones, it's only a mild annoyance. As I said, I'm more curious about this than complaining.

In any case, I give Facebook a lot of direct input on my preferences, likes, and dislikes. There's my profile, the links I click, the posts I share, and the feedback I give on ads I find irrelevant. None of this seems to have much effect.

And I find it very interesting that, while some people do get appropriate ads (even if only after they've bought something), a lot of people find their ads as useless as I do mine. Given the concerns expressed about Facebook knowing "everything about you," I'm amazed that their algorithms seem to work so poorly for a lot of people, especially for something with direct financial impacts like advertising.
  #24  
Old 02-08-2020, 02:35 PM
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I quite enjoy the really stupid ones; my recent favourite was the ad for a Christian DVD series aimed at kids. I'm atheist and the closest I have to children is houseplants and axolotls. Mostly they're magazine and newspaper subscriptions at the moment.

On the 'advertising stuff you already bought' line, I also once got ads for discount train tickets, for the same day I'd bought a train ticket to the airport. Ya know what, I'll skip my holiday in Indonesia, I'll get a single to Grimsby instead, why not?
  #25  
Old 02-08-2020, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
And I find it very interesting that, while some people do get appropriate ads (even if only after they've bought something), a lot of people find their ads as useless as I do mine. Given the concerns expressed about Facebook knowing "everything about you," I'm amazed that their algorithms seem to work so poorly for a lot of people, especially for something with direct financial impacts like advertising.
One of the reasons they are a $600 billion dollar company is probably because their algorithms are much better at telling them what you want than you are. So there isn't really too much of a mystery here; if you're still curious what's happening, the answer is AdBlock and your browser tracker settings.

Have you tried the "Why am I seeing this?" option when you get an irrelevant ad? That might give you more info.
  #26  
Old 02-09-2020, 08:21 AM
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this is why ad-blockers exist.
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  #27  
Old 02-09-2020, 09:02 AM
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One of the reasons they are a $600 billion dollar company is probably because their algorithms are much better at telling them what you want than you are.
Well, look, anyone can say that, and it may even be true. But is there some point where, upon disregarding yet another string of seemingly-irrelevant ads, it’s okay to wonder, hey, wait; is it possible that these *are* as irrelevant as they seem? I mean, granted, maybe they’re getting it right — but, as far as I can tell, they keep getting it wrong. Is there any way to find out whether they’re getting it wrong?

Last edited by The Other Waldo Pepper; 02-09-2020 at 09:07 AM.
  #28  
Old 02-09-2020, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by zbuzz View Post
One of the reasons they are a $600 billion dollar company is probably because their algorithms are much better at telling them what you want than you are. So there isn't really too much of a mystery here; if you're still curious what's happening, the answer is AdBlock and your browser tracker settings.
Sorry, I'm just not buying that explanation. As I said, I give them plenty of direct feedback on Facebook itself, which seems to be entirely ignored.

Quote:
Have you tried the "Why am I seeing this?" option when you get an irrelevant ad? That might give you more info.
If you're suggesting this, I imagine you've never actually clicked on that link. It's entirely uninformative. What it says, for all ads, is:

Quote:
You're seeing this ad because your information matches [advertiser's] advertising requests. There could also be more factors not listed here.
Sample additional reasons given for various sites:

[Advertiser] is trying to reach people whose primary language is English (UK) or English (US)

[Advertiser] is trying to reach people over 18 [or 25] years old.

[Advertiser] is trying to reach people who interacted with their Facebook page [which I never did, for the advertiser in question]

[Advertiser] is trying to reach people whose location is Panama [for generic products that have absolutely nothing to do with Panama. I suspect these advertisers are advertising in many countries, I see few if any ads actually targeted to Panama.]

I don't see any evidence that these ads are targeted except in the very broadest terms.

Last edited by Colibri; 02-09-2020 at 10:15 AM.
  #29  
Old 02-09-2020, 01:21 PM
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I've purchased FB ads and its incredible how tightly you can focus ads. For my distillery we would send coupons to people in our demographic who lived within a 1 mile radius of a store we were doing a tasting at who had interest in alcohol or locally produced products and they worked well.

I think there are 3 possibilities if you're not seeing ads relevant to you. The first is that the companies who would be relevant to you (like the birding example above) don't advertise on facebook so you can't see their ads there. The second is companies with large advertising budgets are "targeting" everyone so facebook is sending you a nonrelavent ad on purpose (an example would be the moving companies "targeting" people who just moved). Lastly, you've managed to hide your interest from facebook by liking everything and clicking everything or clicking nothing or using other ways to mask yourself, this is harder to do than you think since facebook buys external data and ads it to your profile. I would guess mistargeted ads are 40% #1, 50% #2 and at most 10% #3.
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Oredigger77 View Post
The first is that the companies who would be relevant to you (like the birding example above) don't advertise on facebook so you can't see their ads there.
I do get some, but those are ones I've actually taken tours with before or liked their pages. But I don't see ads for other tour companies, that are larger and presumably also advertising. (One would think someone who liked another tour company's page would be a prime market for them.) I just checked, and some of those pages have been liked by some of my Facebook friends. I'll be interested to see if now that I've searched on them directly whether I start seeing their ads.

Quote:
The second is companies with large advertising budgets are "targeting" everyone so facebook is sending you a nonrelavent ad on purpose (an example would be the moving companies "targeting" people who just moved).
The ads I do get seem to be ones that are broad focus ones, with little targeting besides "English speaking adult."

Quote:
Lastly, you've managed to hide your interest from facebook by liking everything and clicking everything or clicking nothing or using other ways to mask yourself, this is harder to do than you think since facebook buys external data and ads it to your profile.
That's not it, since I do click on or like things that interest me, but not everything.

To be clear, what I'm talking about is the ads I see served to me in my news feed. I just checked my "Suggested Groups," and nearly every one of those is appropriate: they're for nature sites, bird tours, my neighborhood in the Bronx, Ireland (because my brother took some recent tours there), a comedian my other brother links to and I've clicked on sometimes, and so on.

So Facebook clearly knows enough about me to show me Groups that are appropriate. It just doesn't seem to use that knowledge to target the ads that appear in my news feed.
  #31  
Old 02-10-2020, 02:15 PM
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Facebook is TERRIBLE at figuring out who I am and what I want*.

I pretty much only get amazon adds for weird quirky unrelated things. Since I don't know what they are, I sometimes click on them. Which just leads to weirder other quirky things next time.

Ok, I am pulling up my mobile Facebook now. First Amazon adds are for:

1. Wedge-it, the ultimate door stopper
2. Oki Microline Turbo dot-matrix printer. haven't seen one of these in about 25 years.
3. A bone implanter kit for dental implantologists. I still don't know what this is. I am not a dentist and don't have any in my family.
4. Spiky Sensory Finger Rings
5. Brass Bullet Sharpener
6. Glass Valve connector stopcock stopper for vaccum desiccator.

The list goes on.

I have NEVER bought anything through Facebook ad. I would probably cut off my pinky toe first.



*To be fair, i am still working on that as well.
  #32  
Old 02-10-2020, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
1. Wedge-it, the ultimate door stopper
2. Oki Microline Turbo dot-matrix printer. haven't seen one of these in about 25 years.
3. A bone implanter kit for dental implantologists. I still don't know what this is. I am not a dentist and don't have any in my family.
4. Spiky Sensory Finger Rings
5. Brass Bullet Sharpener
6. Glass Valve connector stopcock stopper for vaccum desiccator.
Man, your ads are way more interesting than mine.

Well, I've done some rummaging around in the lower levels of Facebook settings, and found out where some of the more puzzling ads are coming from. Apparently I once clicked on a page for a role-playing game, so it was in my preferences despite telling Facebook over and over that such ads were irrelevant to me. There was some other weird shit in there that I can't remember having ever clicked on, at least not for years. The preferences ranged from very broad ("Tourism," "Life," "Face" [WTF?], "Hobby," "Emotion,") to very specific (Monterrey Bay Aquarium, Cooperstown, New York, Kentucky Sports Betting Now [again, WTF?]). It didn't really seem to make a lot of sense. I can't imagine how they could generate accurate targeted ads from this hodgepodge.

Anyway, I rooted out some of the stranger stuff. Let's see if things improve.
  #33  
Old 02-10-2020, 03:54 PM
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About a year ago Facebook kept showing me Mazda ads... in Spanish. And they got it half right. I was considering buying a Mazda at the time (and have since purchased one). But I don't speak Spanish beyond a basic high school level. I have no idea why their algorithm was showing me Spanish language ads.

Regarding the "people you may know" feature, there was one time it got almost creepy with its recommendation. An old college roommate posted an old group photo that contained both me and the girl I was dating at the time. Facebook's facial recognition figured out who we were -- he said it automatically tagged us and simply asked him to confirm the tags -- even though we were all around 19 in the photo and in our mid 30s when he posted it. Then Facebook started suggesting ex-girlfriend as a person I may know, presumably because we appeared in the same photo. The only mutual friend we have is the roommate.

Pulling up my news feed on my phone I see ads for:
  1. Hefty garbage bags
  2. The California Lottery
  3. AbbVie, which appears to be a drug company
  4. The Mondavi Center, a theatrical venue at UC Davis.
  5. Mini Cooper
  6. Barilla pasta

I actually put garbage bags on my shopping list a few days ago, but it's an analog paper list, so I see how they'd know that and am guessing it's a coincidence.
The lottery one is probably based purely on my location.
AbbVie, no idea.
The Mondavi Center is probably the best targeted one; I have seen shows there before, and I very likely "checked in" there in the past.
A Mini was a distant second choice when I was considering my now current car. So not terribly targeted, except I'm not planning on replacing my Miata any time soon.
I actually cooked pasta last night and am sitting at my desk eating leftover pasta as a type this. But I didn't post anything about it. I'm pretty sure I do have cooking listed as an interest in my profile, so I'm guessing that ad was target at me just because of that.
  #34  
Old 02-10-2020, 04:06 PM
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Facebook is pretty far off the mark. I remember in my mid-to-late twenties it was showing me engagement rings when I was single, then divorce lawyer ads when I was newly dating my now-husband, then baby stuff when we got serious enough to decide we were gonna be DINKs together. Lately they've been showing me a lot of bras for women with big boobs and small ribcages (I have neither) and impractical swimsuits with seashells and other crap sewn on (these days, if it doesn't work under a wetsuit for scuba diving, I'm not buying.) Instagram has been better with their millennial infomercial ads for clever new products and services that at least tempt me, like vegan meal delivery companies, special low-cut socks that actually disappear inside flats without sliding off your heels (supposedly), and beach towels that sand doesn't stick to (ditto). Though they also show me the big boob bra ads, so.

Last edited by Esprise Me; 02-10-2020 at 04:10 PM.
  #35  
Old 02-11-2020, 07:15 PM
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The problem is that ads work. This is pretty much undisputed and backed by reams of research.

The other problem is that there is very little known about what kinds of ads work.
People in charge of advertising budgets are scared shitless to create any facts around ads. They really don’t want to know, or they know already that the only part of advertising that works is name recognition.

The result is is that there is nearly 0 data on targeted advertising. Facebook may know that you are a mother of 2 boys with a median household income who likes chicklit and striped t-shirts: Nobody is buying ads targeted at you.

All that data and nobody does anything with it: Big Data is just a buzzword.

The ads I’m getting don’t grow up together with my children (this should be fucking algorithm 101) Instead they keep showing me ads for the things I bought 2 months ago. Ads for car rentals at destinations where I just dropped of the rental.
Does anyone buy the same laptop twice? Why am I not seeing ads for laptop bags/ extra batteries? Because nobody that sells laptop bags thinks to target people that just bought a laptop. When I do buy the laptop bag, I find out there is plenty advertising budget for bags. It is just not targeted at people who bought laptops. It is targeted at people who just bought a laptop bag.
The book recommendations at Amazon are amazing: they will predict with 100% accuracy what book I will never, ever pick up.
I believe the “recommendations” are just the bestsellers of that week whose publisher paid the most. (I don’t believe it is even theoretically possible to write a algorithm that ends up recommending “50 Shades” to me).

Facebook and Google might know their shit (I doubt it) but their customers sure as shit don’t.
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  #36  
Old 02-12-2020, 03:57 PM
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I don't do FB, generally eschew social media, don't shop on line and avoid/remove cookies wherever possible; I presume that all my email gets analysed and the sites I visit are logged in some way, but that's something I don't know how to avoid. I don't see much that is targeted - at least not very successfully. I do, however, see a lot of the MSN newsfeed (because I like a translator app on Edge), and they have got one thing about me absolutely nailed down. This is from today's Ad selection:

Belfast Singles: 3 Online Dating Sites That Actually Work

Meet single women near Belfast

This City-Builder Game lets You Play through the Ages in Belfast


I am over 500 km from Belfast. I have not been to Northern Ireland - ever. I do not know anyone in Northern Ireland. To the best of my recollection I have never even emailed anyone in Northern Ireland. I might add that I'm over 60 and have been married for over 30 years, but that feels a bit nitpicky, really.

So yeah, I do hide, I seem to do so quite well, but I would love to know how they tracked me down to Belfast.

j
  #37  
Old 02-12-2020, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Treppenwitz View Post
I am over 500 km from Belfast. I have not been to Northern Ireland - ever. I do not know anyone in Northern Ireland. To the best of my recollection I have never even emailed anyone in Northern Ireland. I might add that I'm over 60 and have been married for over 30 years, but that feels a bit nitpicky, really.
Is it possible your internet connection is routed through a proxy server in Balfast? This sort of thing happens to me when I surf the internet at work. I'm located in northern California, but the actual connection from my company's internal network to the external internet is apparently in San Diego. Since these ads get your location from your IP address, and they are seeing the address of the company's proxy server rather than my computer, they end up determining my location as San Diego.

Even at home though they often don't get my actual city right and instead fill in the name of another nearby city. So I'll get stuff like "New rule for Rancho Cordova residents could save you money on insurance", and I'm like "Too bad I don't live in Rancho Cordova."

The funny one is when they decide I'm in Represa, and give me the "Meet single women in Represa" ad. Why's that funny? Represa isn't really a town in the normal sense. It's merely the address of Folsom Prison. The only people who actually live in Represa are inmates (and all male inmates, for that matter).
  #38  
Old 02-12-2020, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Is it possible your internet connection is routed through a proxy server in Balfast?.....
Well, this is regular home internet, so there's no obvious reason why it would; but then again, I don't know enough to say that isn't happening. But if you are right about that, lucky old Belfast women - there must br an awful lot of potential dates finding out about you!

j

PS - loved the bit about Folsom Prison - laughed out loud.
  #39  
Old 02-12-2020, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
The funny one is when they decide I'm in Represa, and give me the "Meet single women in Represa" ad. Why's that funny? Represa isn't really a town in the normal sense. It's merely the address of Folsom Prison. The only people who actually live in Represa are inmates (and all male inmates, for that matter).
I missed the edit window, but I was wrong about that last bit. Apparently the prison opened a women's facility in 2013. So technically I could meet single women in Represa, not that I'd want to.
  #40  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by The Librarian View Post
The problem is that ads work. This is pretty much undisputed and backed by reams of research.

The other problem is that there is very little known about what kinds of ads work.
People in charge of advertising budgets are scared shitless to create any facts around ads. They really don’t want to know, or they know already that the only part of advertising that works is name recognition.

The result is is that there is nearly 0 data on targeted advertising. Facebook may know that you are a mother of 2 boys with a median household income who likes chicklit and striped t-shirts: Nobody is buying ads targeted at you.

All that data and nobody does anything with it: Big Data is just a buzzword.

The ads I’m getting don’t grow up together with my children (this should be fucking algorithm 101) Instead they keep showing me ads for the things I bought 2 months ago. Ads for car rentals at destinations where I just dropped of the rental.
Does anyone buy the same laptop twice? Why am I not seeing ads for laptop bags/ extra batteries? Because nobody that sells laptop bags thinks to target people that just bought a laptop. When I do buy the laptop bag, I find out there is plenty advertising budget for bags. It is just not targeted at people who bought laptops. It is targeted at people who just bought a laptop bag.
The book recommendations at Amazon are amazing: they will predict with 100% accuracy what book I will never, ever pick up.
I believe the “recommendations” are just the bestsellers of that week whose publisher paid the most. (I don’t believe it is even theoretically possible to write a algorithm that ends up recommending “50 Shades” to me).

Facebook and Google might know their shit (I doubt it) but their customers sure as shit don’t.
I know ads must work, or they wouldn't be spending the money. But does anyone really click on an internet ad? (before you answer, of course people do. And some reply to Nigerian prince's emails too)

I was taught not to in the early days of the World Wide Web, and don't think I have clicked on one ad in the 25 years since. If I want to buy a garden hose, I'll search for a website that has garden hoses. I'll skip the websites that come up first (which I believe are paying to be there) and start poking around after that. Or type in a retailer that I know of, like Home Depot or Ace Hardware. For books I go to Amazon.com I would never click on an add that showed up for "hoses at Home Depot, on sale now!" I do see ads on some websites that are obviously tailored to my recent searches. They tend to offend me.
  #41  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Grrr! View Post
There algorithm is getting scary good.

A couple of months ago, I saw a jar of Blue Plate mayo. I remembered people on this board talking about what a great mayonnaise it is, so I bought it.

The next thing you know, BP ads are showing up on my FB feed.


A couple of days ago, I bought a bottle of Frenches Mustard. Those ads are now running on my FB feed.

I never Google searched either one of these, but FB still knows somehow.

I'm tempted to say they have somehow tapped into my Kroger's card. But Kroger doesn't know my Facebook handle.

It's all very surreal.
I see these as bad ads. You've already purchased the item and are aware of it. There's absolutely no reason to advertise it to you again. Maybe, since this one is food, they could wait until they think you've used it all--that could make sense. But not right after you purchased it.
  #42  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:17 AM
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Anyways, to answer the OP:

I find that targeted ads for me in general are bad. And I don't mean because I mostly adblock things. I mean because, while they can figure out stuff I'm interested in, they can't seem to figure out what I would ever actually purchase.

Amazon gets it the closest, in that, while I've actually been searching for something, they'll recommend things in that range. Problem is, they don't seem to get that, once I do purchase something, I'm not going to buy any more. And I'm unlikely to purchase this "item frequently bought with," as those are always quite odd and wasteful, to me.
  #43  
Old 02-13-2020, 07:35 AM
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I get a lot of "meet older singles" ads with big-breasted, scantily-clad women in their 60s. My wife and I our both in our 30s, but I don't think fbook knows we're married. She asks me what I'm searching for to get these ads.

But most of the ads are pretty basic. Can I tell if one is necessarily targeted?

Today:
Mike Bloomberg
Orbit chewing gum
Starbucks
Uber
BuzzFeed
JoJo Rabbit (I'd like to see this)
Comcast
Allstate

Etc. Etc., yawn.
  #44  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:37 AM
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Honestly, I've managed to train myself to ignore ads that slip thru my ad blockers. I know some pop up, but I only pay attention to whatever site I'm visiting at the time. The periphery doesn't exist. At least on the PC.

I play lots of free, mindless games on my tablet, and ads pop up all the time there between levels. They range from "What do you think of Trump: great president or the greatest president" type of thing, to meds, or other political causes. As soon as I can hit the little X in the corner, I do. But none are related to anything about me - probably because my mindless games aren't linked to me in any way - I don't associate them with FB or any other online identity.
  #45  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
Honestly, I've managed to train myself to ignore ads that slip thru my ad blockers.
I had to go back and make myself look at them on my phone to come up with the above list.
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