Facebook to Use Web Browsing History and App Data to Target Ads

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) should prepare for more debate over its controversial privacy policies. Reuters reports that the social network will expand its use of users’ personal information to target its advertisements. For the first time, Facebook network will use information like members’ web browsing history to help marketers choose relevant ads to display.

Facebook’s advertising system relies on an internal profile of each of its 1.28 billion monthly users. In the past, that profile has consisted of the comments that users make and the posts that they like within the site. Now, that profile will also take into account the external websites and mobile apps that each Facebook member uses. As Ad Age explains, Facebook already enables retargeting ads to users who visit specific websites or apps. The social network does that by offering traffic tracking software that marketers can attach to their websites and apps. Then a retailer can target Facebook ads to users who’ve already looked at its site and products.

And Facebook already has access to some of its members’ external browsing information through its use of plug-ins that integrate the social network into other sites, and through the conversion tracking pixel that the network offers for marketers to measure the efficacy of its ads. But this is the first time that Facebook will use that information and not honor the “do not track” setting in web browsers.

Facebook’s competitors in the social media sphere — Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Pinterest — do honor the do not track setting. But advertising competitors Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) do not.