“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”

Facebook ads

Facebook’s plea for more information to show you target ads.

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m curious. Very curious. I’ve hidden plenty of Facebook ads in my time. From FOREX trading companies to pregnancy advice (not sure how that one got there), all the way through to ‘win an iPad!!!’ I’ve blocked it all. And every time I do it Facebook makes an almost pitiful plea, to help them make more money from my personal information. If you’ve ever hidden an ad, or advertiser, from the right handside of your Facebook feed, you too will invariably have seen the words “To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like.”

Googling around, it seems not many people have actually gone through with it. The typical response I’ve seen in a few places is:

“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”… “I’d like no ads”. Funny. But it’d be less funny if Facebook started charging a monthly fee for access, so let’s assume that ads are going to be around for a while.

There are a few things about Facebook’s request that are interesting to me:

– Aside from my belief the click through rate on this must be staggeringly low, I can’t imagine that the completion rate is even worth talking about.

– Is this the worst or the best timed message on the internet? Sure the user has just hidden ads which annoyed them, but Facebook are offering the user the chance to not be so annoyed in the future – I honestly can’t decide if it’s genius or folly.

– What’s in it for me? As the consumer who will – post completion – just be shown more ads which hopefully are more relevant, what benefit am I really deriving from this exchange of time vs. ads?

– What’s in it for me part 2 – When Facebook are already making record profits, where’s the incentive to provide more information to help them make even more money?

Going where (probably) no one has gone before.

So what happens when you click on the link? What does Facebook ask? What don’t they know about me already that they need to know to show me even more relevant ads? Well there was only one way to find out.

I’ve clicked so you don’t have to.

The first thing you see is the screenshot below – the recommended pages.

Facebook recommended pages

Facebook recommended pages

I have to admit as first stages go, this was a bit underwhelming. I was expecting some sort of uber ‘let’s get to know you portal‘. Instead it’s just the typical ‘click on some pages we think you may or may not like, that are already pretty popular‘. Another part of the experience that makes this underwhelming is that Facebook aren’t really wanting to know me, they just want to be able to categorise and filter me based on existing parameters.

Note the language too “Get updates from your favourite businesses and brands.” OK, but not all updates from ‘my favourite’ businesses are advertising, and as a user I’ve just told Facebook I’m willing to give them more info about me to give me a better advertising experience. C’mon Facebook, this is your chance – ask me anything, let’s sit down and have a good ol’ chinwag!

Never the less, and putting all disappointment aside, I clicked on a random selection of pages and bravely ploughed on to step two. But….

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

OK, so that’s it. I’m actually really disappointed. Granted I don’t think that Facebook’s request for more information is particularly great – especially given that the general public probably couldn’t care less if Facebook make more money from more targeted advertising or not (except for the stock holders) – but this just feels like such a huge own goal… such a missed opportunity. If Facebook are going to go to the trouble of giving users the opportunity tell them more information to hopefully have a chance of seeing marginally less annoying ads at least do it better.

Yes the participation rates are probably incredibly low for this section of the website, but for those people who care, and are actually are willing to give Facebook more information for this purpose I can’t believe it just takes people to the ‘recommended pages’ link which is accessible at all times in a user’s page anyway.

So there you have it. It’s not a link to be scared of, but it doesn’t appear to be worth doing anyway, because in all probability the chance of you clicking on ‘Like’ for a page about George Takei, the local pizzeria, or some movie you may like and seeing less ads for baldness cures, FOREX trading systems or ‘local sexy singles in your area’ are really slim.

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