By Todd Wasserman, Mashable’s Business and Marketing Editor:
Facebook is addressing the ick factor related to targeted advertising with a new feature that lets you discover why the company is showing you the ads you’re seeing. There is also a mechanism to opt out of such targeting.
The company in 2012 introduced ads that were served up based on the sites you visited. So if you visit Zappos for instance you might see a Facebook ad for the pair of shoes you had checked out. On Thursday, Facebook began including signals from many different websites. So if you’ve visited Toyota’s, Ford’s and Chevrolet’s websites recently, Facebook might conclude that you’re in the market for a car and show you auto ads.
If you suddenly see a bunch of car ads on Facebook and are wondering why, you can now get an explanation. On the ads there’s a prompt asking “Why am I seeing this ad?” Click it and you’ll see Facebook’s rationale.
For consumers who are uncomfortable with such targeting, Facebook is also providing a way to opt out feature on desktop and mobile and alter your ad profile. By providing a way to avoid targeting, Facebook can deflect criticism that it’s infringing on users’ privacy. However, if consumers do opt out, they will arguably find the ads they see more annoying because they are not relevant to their needs.