03 Sep Who do You Look Like? Facebook’s New Look Alike Audiences
Generally this is a question asked at a family reunion by a great aunt you’re not sure you’re actually related to as she lines you and your parents up to determine who you resemble most. However, it is now a question being asked by social media giant Facebook to better cater to its advertisers.
Look Alike Audience is a new tool offered by Facebook in conjunction with any ad buy. In short, it gives advertisers the chance to display ads and offers to the audience they know uses their product or services, and those users who share similar profile attributes as their current audience.
Custom Audiences, a similar service that has been available since late 2012, allows advertisers to target new audience members based on email, phone number or User ID (assigned by Facebook to each user profile). This tool helps to focus the audience, generally based on a marketer’s existing mailing list or the user IDs extracted from a Facebook group. However the tool does not allow targeting based on any information that pertains to the user’s interests or buying activity. Now, using Look Alike in conjunction with Custom Audiences, advertisers are able to take their custom audience and find users that share the same interests and attributes as that audience to add to their targeting. Ideally, this tool will help advertisers to serve their ad to more users but also to drive down CPC as their custom and look alike audiences will be more likely to respond to their call to action than a general audience.
While it may feel like just another way Facebook is spying on its users to get more ad dollars, the good news for the average user comes in the anonymity of the Look Alike Audience tool. Advertisers only see the number of users in their new custom audience, not names, email addresses, or even user ID’s. Your preferences (gender, age, likes, groups, etc) are tracked by your user ID, not by name or any other vital information, so you are kept more or less anonymous to advertisers, and the ads you see will be no different from the ads that are already showing up in your news feed and sidebar.
What do you think of Facebook’s ever-changing attempts to optimize their advertising?