Is Facebook personalizing ad options based on activity?

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Remember when there were only a few hundred workplace targets on Facebook?

You could only target people who worked at big companies. If you were a B2B marketer, you might not be able to hit any of the niche companies in your vertical. But potentially, you could stilltarget folks who worked at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas (their headquarters) or executives who work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and like a certain interest group or job title.

Back in early 2014, suddenly, the number of workplace targets exploded. We could hit the tiniest of companies, creating a bonanza for PR companies, start-ups, and small businesses that had the chops to run $1 a day micro-targeted campaigns. The results were stunning– resolve your customer complaints, land that whale client, get newspaper coverage, play a fun trick on your friends, make your boss think you’re a celebrity, and so forth.

You could even target Dennis Yu!

And then in July 2014, most of these small audiences just disappeared from workplace targeting. Sure, if you wanted to reach customers of Infusionsoft, a small business marketing tool, you could still hit Infusionsoft as an interest target. But if you wanted to reach their executives, targeting fans of the page who live within 25 miles of Chandler, Arizona, just wasn’t as powerful as selecting Infusionsoft as a workplace target.

In the last week, this has quietly changed.

Check out this ad that I made today.

Screenshot 2014-09-07 08.43.17

If you can’t read the fine text, I apologize. There are 35 workplace targets in this ad.

Most are for companies that have only a couple employees.

These are companies that I’ve visited or interacted with in the last couple years. So we know for sure that Facebook is personalizing your ad options based on your activity.

Perhaps they had too much negative feedback from people being explicitly micro-targeted?

We could speculate that they opened back up some targeting to people who have engaged with you or the page before. You used to be able to start tying “social media” into the workplace targets box to trigger the auto-complete. And then you’d be able to select from dozens of workplace targets– hitting the organizers of various organizations and conferences.

One my my favorites was typing in “Times” or “Daily” to get a list of newspapers.

What this means for you is that if you’re not engaging in social, your ad options will be limited.

You have all the more reason to build strong social connections so that Facebook will let you amplify these via ads.