Facebook will label ads that are based on your browsing behaviour

Facebook will soon let you know which ads shown to you are based on your browsing behaviour, according to an AdAge report. While it won’t be evident just from looking at them, users can figure out if an ad has been targeted by rolling the pointer over the grey ‘X’ displayed next to the ads.

This move has been made by Facebook because the social networking giant wants to make users more aware of the kind of ads being displayed to them, allowing them to opt out if it makes them uncomfortable.

The social network has agreed to start displaying a tiny blue icon on ads that are served through its FBX ad exchange, even as complaints about privacy issues pour in. This icon is intended to be a shiny pointer towards behavioural targeting and allows users to choose whether they would like to continue seeing such targeted ads. FTC guidelines for online ads state that there must be ‘clear and prominent notice’ when an ad is behaviourally targeted.

AdChoice is the right choice (Image Courtesy: Digital Advertising Alliance)

AdChoice is the right choice (Image Courtesy: Digital Advertising Alliance)

As far as Facebook goes, the company has chosen to display this icon, while still not displaying it. The icon will show up only if the user hovers around the grey ‘X’ displayed on the top-right of the ad, which makes us wonder if the social networking website does indeed want to help you make your choices or just added the option because it had no choice.

While most people would not worry about what ad is being displayed to them from which source, many won’t be familiar with the elaborate action of hovering, noticing and finally clicking on an ad.

Facebook refutes this decision by suggesting that the site’s users are accustomed to ad-related information appearing in this format. “We have always given our users the ability to provide feedback on and control the ads they see on Facebook, by hiding, reporting, or clicking through to learn more about why particular ads are being served,” said Brian Boland, Facebook’s Director of Product Marketing, in a statement to Ad Age, “Giving advertisers the ability to implement the AdChoices icon provides another option, another mechanism of control.

Meanwhile, Inside Facebook revealed that Facebook was experimenting with bigger images within advertisements in the US. These new ads will be a tweaked version of the standard ‘marketplace ads’ you see on the column to the right.

Traditionally, these ads have always had thumbnail-sized images that largely limit the advertisers’ scope of showing off products and services. Comparatively, sponsored ads and sponsored stories that appear within the news feed are larger and grab more attention. Confirming this, a company spokesperson toldCNET, “We have seen that people respond favorably to larger images — both from people and Pages — in News Feed, and so we are testing this out on the right-hand side.”

These ads will now feature images that are larger in width and have text appearing underneath, instead of beside the ads. Since it’s being tested on a small scale, only permalink pages—pages that appear when you click on the timestamp of a story—have these ads.


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