Facebook to allow advertising based on phone number, user ID, e-mail

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Facebook’s list of advertising offerings is getting bigger. Inside Facebook reported Thursday that some Power Editor users were temporarily granted access to a new Facebook advertising function. The feature allows businesses to upload individual or sets of contact information to create an advertising audience. This provides a new way for advertisers to use information they’ve collected from users in the past, and marry it with that user’s Facebook profile. Advertisers can use email addresses, Facebook user IDs, or phone numbers in search of their audience. TechCrunch reports that the features have been tested by some and that they will be rolled out to “managed” advertisers next week.

In terms of security, Facebook states on the feature’s page that any information uploaded by the advertiser would be hashed, or encoded, so that Facebook will not be able to use it, and will not have additional usable data about users. Businesses will not be provided any additional user data in the process either, just the ability to target those specific users with tailored advertisements. Businesses will further be able to refine the audience for these ads by selecting specific demographic groups based on gender, age or other characteristics.

Businesses will find a myriad uses for this feature. Its core functionality is that it is no longer limited to targeting advertisements based on qualifiers Facebook (you) allows them to select. An advertiser could use phone numbers, user IDs, or email addresses that they’ve matched with other information already. For example, if you provided a business with your phone number (and permitted them to use it for advertising purposes) and purchased products from that company, they might deliver Facebook advertisements about the particular products you tend to like. As TechCrunch points out, another advantage is the ability of the advertiser to identify existing customers or fans who have not Liked the company’s Facebook page and use the new advertising feature to encourage those users to become fans on Facebook.

This feature allows advertisers a powerful new level of targeting at a time when the efficacy of Facebook’s advertisements is under scrutiny. The option opens the door to new, highly specific advertisements. We can’t grumble too much, however, as they’re only using information we’ve given them.

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