Whether you’re a casual Facebook user or a Facebook Marketer promoting pages and offers for your clients, I’m sure you’ve heard how many experts have questioned the effectiveness of Facebook ads time and time again. Just a few months ago, this particular issue was making headlines when a controversial video started circulating suggesting fake accounts were harming results. Forrester’s Vice President and Principal Analyst, Nate Elliott has already said that brands are becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook.  And this is not the first time that he criticizes Facebook either.

Below you can see the survey chart that Forrester included with the article when making those comments.  The chart represents data from the 3rd Quarter of 2013 but it’s still quite relevant today.

Facebook Marketing Satisfaction Survey

If you want to use Facebook as one of your marketing channels, in addition to relying on the organic sharing of your content and hoping that you get some referrals from that, it looks like paid advertising is the only way you can get any tangible results.  Facebook has already made enough algorithm changes lately to diminish the effect of organic results by decreasing the reach of your Page posts which I already wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Now it looks like Facebook is yet making further updates and changes to increase the effectiveness of its paid ads. In a recent post on their website, Facebook said it will soon start including information about the websites and apps its users visit in its ad targeting, ignoring the user’s browser’s “Do Not Track” setting. In other words, Facebook is now adding its own “Retargeting” algorithm in an effort to boost its advertising power.

“Many companies already do this,” Facebook said on their website. Facebook’s position is that not everyone agrees about this (Do not Track) practice, so they’re going to go ahead and do it.  In a related article, from AdAge, Cotton Delo writes:

“Facebook already enables retargeting to users who’ve previously visited specific websites and apps, which advertisers can turn on by affixing tracking software to their products. Additionally, ads can be retargeted to Facebook users on their desktop screens via FBX, the company’s ad exchange, which a plethora of demand-side platforms like Turn and AdRoll are plugged into.

But what Facebook is now enabling is far more expansive in terms how it uses data for ad targeting. In a move bound to stir up some controversy given the company’s reach and scale, the social network will not be honoring the do-not-track setting on web browsers. A Facebook spokesman said that’s “because currently there is no industry consensus.” Social-media competitors Twitter and Pinterest do honor the setting. Google and Yahoo do not.”

On their own website, Facebook uses the example of a user who is considering purchasing a new television, and starts researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps.  They write:

“Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.”

Retargeting ads have proven to be very effective and this new Facebook feature will surely make Facebook ads much more effective for its advertisers. Although most website visitors or Facebook visitors may not be aware of this, Facebook also points out that visitors can also opt out of this kind of targeting by using the Digital Advertising Alliance opt out.

Users can also take advantage of Facebook’s new Ad Preferences tool, which can be accessed from any Facebook ad. If you don’t want to see any ads about a particular category, you can remove it from your ad interests.  This too will also make the ads become much more effective, if anything because there will not be any wasted impressions by showing certain ads to users that are explicitly not interested in that type of product.

The new “ad preferences” tool will start rolling out to U.S. Facebook users in two weeks, according to a Facebook spokesman. The company doesn’t have a definitive date for when targeting powered by data about people’s website and app visits will be turned on.

As far as Facebook advertisers’ benefits, according to Brian Boland, Facebook’s VP-ads product marketing, “their ROI should improve and make them a more effective advertiser on Facebook,” he said.  Which leads us to believe once again that organic reach, Page likes, and news feed exposure will less and less about who you have “Liked” and more about ads for those products, companies and advertisers that Facebook thinks you “might” like.

Let me know your thoughts and whether you think Facebook is doing the right thing or getting too close to invade some of its users’ privacy settings.

Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)