Facebook To Track Non-Users To Aid Advert Push

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Social network giant will begin tracking people without Facebook accounts as part of advertising growth

Facebook has laid out its aim of bringing people ‘better ads‘, but says that it will need to track the web usage habits of people who don’t have a Facebook account in order to do so.

And to make matters worse, the social network said it will also show adverts to non-Facebook users on other websites.

Tracking Non-Users

Facebook’s controversial move is designed to help marketeers display adverts to all users who visit third party websites and applications that are signed up its advertising scheme (Audience Network ad network).

Until now, only Facebook users that visited an Audience Network ad network website had their web surfing habits tracked. But from now on, the social networking giants plans to extend this to non-Facebook users.

Facebook © stephaniels - Fotolia“…we introduced Facebook Audience Network two years ago to help publishers and developers support their services by showing relevant, high quality ads to people who visit their websites and apps,” said Andrew Bosworth, VP of Facebook’s ads and business platform.

“But in the past, we’ve only shown ads in these places to people who have Facebook accounts. Today, we’re expanding Audience Network so publishers and developers can show better ads to everyone – including those who don’t use or aren’t connected to Facebook.”

Bosworth claims that the move is to help deliver more relevant adverts.

“Advertising may be here to stay, but bad advertising like this doesn’t have to,” Bosworth said. “That’s why we’re working to provide a better online advertising experience for everyone: people, publishers, and advertisers.”

“Together, we hope these efforts will help improve the online advertising experience for everyone,” Bosworth said.

Expanding Reach

Facebook recently revealed that monthly 1.65 billion people are actively using its website each month, an increase of 15 percent over the previous quarter.

This has meant that Facebook only showed its adverts to these Facebook users, and not all web users around the world.

It bases the adverts its delivers on the information it collects about its users’ tastes and behaviours. But Facebook’s announcement now means that it will gather (or track) the web surfing habits of non-Facebook users using web software such cookies and plug-in code, in order to deliver suitable adverts to them.

The company did say that non-Facebook users would be able to opt-out of “interest-based” advertising from Facebook. Facebook users meanwhile will also be able to opt-out of seeing ads outside of the social platform based on their on-Facebook interests.

Advertising Focus

Of course, there is little doubt that Facebook’s financial well being is heavily reliant on advertising, most notably mobile advertising. And it is facing stiff competition from the likes of Google.

The introduction of adverts into people’s Facebook newsfeed has been an unpopular development in recent years, and many Facebook users remain unhappy about the development. This happened despite research that British people resented big brands invading their social networks.

Another irritation came when Facebook began inserting videos that automatically played when the user scrolls to them. This caused complaints from mobile users, arguing that these videos swallowed their precious mobile data allowance.

But it is the fact that Facebook is likely to track the web surfing habits of non-Facebook users that will prove so controversial.

Late last year, Facebook was told to stop collecting information on people who have not signed up for the social network in Belgium, or face a massive penalty.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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