Mark Zuckerburg knows that you live in Oak Park; like kittens, pictures of newly remodeled kitchens and yoga; and follow social justice causes. Using that information, he can create targeted ads aligned to your interests that will appear in your Facebook feed.
So can I.
Rest assured that I don’t know it is you and I cannot access your personal information. But let me walk through how your interests become my opportunity and Facebook’s revenue.
There are two kinds of paid advertising on Facebook: ads and sponsored posts. Ads are available to anyone, with some caveats if you are not a business. Sponsored posts are available to businesses who have a Facebook “page.” Both ads and posts allow for specific targeting, meaning the ad creator can choose who will see the ad based on various criteria. Ads are more flexible and powerful but sponsored posts are easier to create. Both are relatively cheap.
For example: the Chamber has a terrific event Wednesday April 18 for professionals working in the home design and construction industry. We do not know them yet, which is frustrating given how many calls we get asking for a plumber. We’re hosting this happy hour to get to know them better.
Using Facebook, we easily promoted the event to people who might be in the industry. Using the sponsored post option, I paid Facebook to insert a post about my event into the newsfeed of anyone meeting certain criteria. I selected the criteria and the budget. The more I spend, the more people will see the post (which now is really an ad).
I chose: any gender, age over 21, our zip codes, and interests, behaviors or job titles in 37 home remodeling-related categories. I selected $15 per day. Total reach: the ad will appear daily in up to 2,000 local people’s feeds.
In this case, if you signalled to Facebook through likes, photos, engagement or job title that you are interested in kitchen remodeling or one of the other 36 criteria I chose, then you are likely to see my post in your news feed.
That’s how your data turns into my business opportunity.