Monday, May 10, 2010

Are Facebook Ads Getting Too Personal?

Ads that are custom-tailored to the user are nothing new in an online world.

After all, any time you open an email on Gmail, Google pops up several ads related to the content of the text inside. Apple’s renowned for targeting its users with custom recommendations for future purchases on their iTunes store. We’re accustomed to a certain amount of information-gathering so companies can deliver relevant ads that we might actually be interested in.

Looks like Facebook may have crossed a line, though.

Facebook’s users post more personal information on their pages than what they’ve been buying lately, which makes for ads that are tailored to personal likes and dislikes, opinions or associations, and even changes in their relationship.

One problematic ad rush has been among women who change their Facebook status to “engaged” and receive a glut of ads offering them wedding-related merchandise.

For many, it’s too invasive a method of advertising. On the other hand, many advertisers have come to find it quite successful, though some are using the info they have to get attention for schemes.

One company in particular is fond of using personal info to get users attention (26-year-olds get a free iPad!) and then trying to convince users to sign up for completely unrelated services.

Facebook says they’re still working out the kinks in its online advertising. It might want to hurry; users are not enjoying the experience of ads that get too personal.