Facebook is making moves to become a bigger player in the online advertising scene — which is currently dominated by Google. The social network began testing the idea of serving ads from its ad network to non-Facebook users in 2012, and made official on Friday plans to roll it out network-wide.
Previously, in order to be served Facebook ads you had to be a Facebook user and be logged in on whatever device you were browsing from. With today’s announcement that all changes. Facebook will attempt to identify and track third-party site visitors with its own mix of cookies, buttons, and plugins, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It’s a business move that looks to expand upon the $5 billion that the company has already earned through advertising in this last quarter alone, as well as increasing the social network’s reach beyond the 1.65 billion users it claims to access each month.
So what does this mean for the average Joe web user? If they already have a Facebook profile, nothing much here will change — but those trying to avoid Facebook’s reach will find it much harder. Now non-users who visit a website displaying Facebook advertisements will be identified and tracked by the social media company (as other ad trackers do). This is how Facebook will attempt to show relevant ads to the unknown user, and it’s not unlike how Google tracks users to display relevant ads.
This new ad service extends Facebook’s reach across the entire internet and ad-supported mobile app marketplace, making it harder than ever (nearly impossible, really) to avoid being tracked, profiled, and sold by Facebook to advertisers. You can run, but you can’t hide … because profile or not, Facebook will find you.
It’s not all bad though: The ads that you do see should be more relevant to you and your interests. This is something that may make the browsing experience less annoying, even if the ad network’s ability to predict what we are interested in is a little creepy.