Facebook Ads Now More Powerful with “Friends of Connections” Targeting

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facebook-ads-social-contextAll marketers should be aware of the 10 ways performance advertisers can target Facebook Ads. And today, make that 11: Facebook has just launched a new way to draw more people to your Facebook Page or application, called “Friends of connections” targeting.

Here’s how it works: before today, advertisers could already target any of their “connections,” where connections are defined as:

  1. Fans of any of your Pages
  2. Users of any of your Applications
  3. Members of any of your Groups
  4. Attendees of any of your Events

Now, advertisers can target ads specifically to friends of any of these connections as well. When this option is selected, friends of connections who see the ad will also see a message about which of their friends is connected to the advertiser. For example, if John is a fan of Chick-fil-A’s Page, and Chick-fil-A is running Facebook Ads with “friends of connections” targeting, John’s friend Debbie would see the text “John is a fan of Chick-fil-A” below the ad.

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This feature should lead to increased conversion on Facebook Ads, because users will find the social context and implied endorsement more interesting. Facebook has previously allowed advertisers to enable this kind of context via “Social Ads” before, but this is the first time it has allowed advertisers to specifically target just friends of connections if they want to. Facebook has also been including social actions on home page engagement ads in recent months.

There’s a privacy angle here too, which is whether some users will be uncomfortable with their Facebook actions being included in Facebook Ads their friends see as “implicit endorsements.” Facebook has an ads privacy setting which allows users to turn this off if they want. We also spoke directly to Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization, about this earlier this year. His thoughts:

Using the graph is something we want to do more in 2009, while respecting privacy as well. When your friends click on an ad, we view it as a reasonable inference that that would be valuable and fair to share with your friends. We’ve done pretty well with privacy on this because we stick to what the user provides to us.

In many ways we view Social Ads as less surreptitious than many types of behavioral targeting technologies.

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