Facebook has repeatedly stressed its mission to provide the most relevant ads on News Feed, and the social network Thursday announced two more steps it is taking toward doing so: When users indicate that they don’t want to see specific ads, Facebook will take into account the reasons why those users rejected those ads when decided whether or not to serve them to other users. And more weight will be given to feedback from users who rarely or infrequently reject ads, compared with input from serial ad rejecters.
The social network stressed that these changes will not impact most advertisers or the performance of their ads, and the moves were made not to target advertisers, but to be sure their messages are being seen by the right users.
Product manager Max Eulenstein offered more details in a Newsroom post:
Today we’re announcing two updates to News Feed to help show people more relevant ads. For years, we have given people the choice to hide an ad so they no longer see it in their News Feed. We’ve also looked at these hides and used them as a signal that other people on Facebook might not want to see that ad. Now, we are going a step further by taking into account the specific reason they didn’t want to see that ad, and using that as a signal to inform whether or not we show the ad to other people. Second, we’re going to pay more attention to feedback from people who don’t often hide ads so that when they do give us feedback we take it as a stronger signal.
Eulenstein posted the message below that will appear after users indicate that they don’t want to see specific ads, pointing out that the social network already tries to show users fewer ads similar to those they rejected, and adding:
We’ve learned that the reason why someone hides an ad can be just as important as the hide itself. If someone doesn’t want to see an ad because it’s not relevant to them, we know we didn’t do a great job choosing that ad, and we need to improve. If someone doesn’t want to see an ad because it’s offensive, it probably isn’t a good ad for other people on Facebook, either.
When testing this update, we looked at when people told us that ads were offensive or inappropriate and stopped showing those ads. As a result, we saw a significant decrease in the number of ads people reported as offensive or inappropriate. This means we were able to take signals from a small number of people on a small number of particularly bad ads to improve the ads everyone sees on Facebook.
Eulenstein also addressed the reasons for paying more attention to feedback from users who reject fewer ads:
We know that a small group of people share feedback less frequently than others, and this is especially true for ads. So we’ll now weight feedback differently based on how often someone hides ads and other content in their News Feed. If someone hides things very rarely, we’ll consider that when we choose what to show them. If we think there is even a small chance they might hide an ad, we won’t show it to them. This affects the type of ads we show everyone, but has a bigger impact for people who don’t often hide ads.
When testing this update, we saw that people who rarely hide ads ended up hiding 30 percent fewer ads with this change, meaning when we listen carefully, this feedback helps us show better ads — even to those who aren’t very vocal.
Finally, his message to brands on Facebook was:
Most advertisers will see no change to the delivery of their ads or how their ads perform on Facebook. These updates are designed to affect the ads that a small set of people give us negative feedback on, and allow us to show people ads that we think are most relevant for them, and make sure advertisers are getting their messages in front of the right people.
Readers: Is this a step in the right direction by Facebook?