Are Facebook Interests Really Accurate and Relevant?

Many businesses use Facebook ads to increase their overall brand awareness, sales, leads and presence in the digital world. Some marketers use Facebook’s interest targeting to increase the overall reach of their campaigns.

But is setting up your campaigns based on interest targeting the best option for you? 

Hello and welcome to another portion of social media news to help you grow your brand better. Our main topic today will be.. yes, you guessed right – the accuracy of Facebook Interests when used in ads. Most importantly, if they are relevant enough to build a whole campaign around them.

According to recent research, conducted by North Carolina State University, Facebook does not take the actual context into consideration when assigning interests for ad targeting. 

What does this mean?

According to the research – “Analyzing the Impact and Accuracy of Facebook Activity on Facebook’s Ad-Interest Inference Process“, Facebook does not take into consideration the actual reactions to a certain topics whether they be positive, negative, or neutral. The authors of the paper used green cheese as an example. What the paper claims is that even if a user posts about how much they dislike green cheese, they will still see ads for green cheese. This is because the Facebook algorithm is likely to only notice the green cheese topic, not the actual reaction to it. 

The green cheese example is just some food for thought when it comes to the use of Facebook interests

In most circumstances, advertisers presume that the users they are targeting are enthusiastic or somewhat passionate and interested about the subject. As with the green cheese example, you cannot be sure. Therefore, if you pay to reach people who don’t actually “like” the targeted interest, you may just be squandering your money.

❓ How did the researchers come across the Facebook interests issue? 

The researchers did several investigations before concluding that Facebook interests are not as “accurate” as we may believe.

The researchers created 14 new Facebook user accounts in the first experiment. Each account’s demographics and activity were carefully monitored by the researchers. They then kept track of the Facebook-generated interests.

These interests were visible in each account’s Ad Preferences. Anyone can check those in just a few simple steps:

  1. Click the settings drop down arrow menu in the top right of your Facebook account.
  2. Select Settings & privacy, then click Settings.
  3. Click Ads in the left menu.

From there, Facebook users can view the advertisers that they have most recently seen ads from. We are also able to choose to see fewer ads about selected topics and so on. 

After checking their Ad Preferences, researchers discovered that even basic behaviors like browsing across a website caused Facebook to infer an interest. The study found that 33% of the inferred interests were either incorrect or irrelevant.

Whether something is “inexact” or “irrelevant” is, of course, a sliding scale.

When does an inferred interest become accurate and when does it become inexact? When is something relevant and when is it no longer relevant? In the case of the study, if one user had more than two or three inaccurate interests, then the targeting is slightly problematic. 

Another study was then conducted by the researchers. This time, they enlisted the help of 146 people from all across the world. Each participant installed a browser extension that enabled researchers to obtain information about their interests from Facebook.

Following that, the participants were quizzed on the accuracy of Facebook’s inferred interests. In this situation, researchers discovered that 29% of the interests indicated on Facebook were irrelevant to these individuals.

To put it another way, these findings were in line with those of the previous study.

❗ So what does this mean for your advertising campaigns? 

We understand that advertising on Facebook can be vital to businesses. Using Facebook Interests as a targeting option is also an opportunity that can be taken advantage of. We all however need to pay attention to a few pointers that can help us create better targeted ads, save our budgets and complete our goals. 

👉🏻 Consider:

– Pay attention to the comments on your ads.
If you notice that people commenting on your ads are not happy with the ad or they wonder why they are seeing it. Even if you receive comments about something that’s not at all related to the topic of the ad, then you should consider revisiting and adjusting the Facebook Interest targeting of your ad campaigns.

 – Keep an eye on your metrics. 

If you notice your a huge bounce rate or low click-through rate coming from your interest based ad campaigns, your best bet is to review, change and even pause them. The high bounce rate means that people are not actually interested in your offer. They may even not be interested in your brand. 

In other words, be vigilant when creating Facebook interest based campaigns. Monitor and analyze them at all times in order to ensure you will get the best possible return on your ad spend. 

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