SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook, the social networking site, plans to refine its targeting of ads by using information gleaned from users' apps and web browsing activities in addition to its existing internal data.

The company said it was responding to pressure from users. A blogpost noted: "When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests."

At the same time, Facebook announced it was giving users greater control over the ads they saw. A new tool, ad preferences, will appear alongside every ad and explain why a specific ad is appearing, let users see the list of interests held on them and enable them to add and remove interests in order to manage the type of ads that are shown.

This could be smart business, the New York Times suggested, as "companies are likely to buy more ads and pay higher prices if they know that their pitches are reaching a receptive audience".

Brian Boland, vp/ ads product marketing, Facebook, told Advertising Age that the new targeting would be of particular help to direct-response advertisers. "Their ROI should improve and make them a more effective advertiser on Facebook," he said.

The move is also a step towards greater transparency and the alleviation of concerns about privacy. Facebook sought to further reassure users by informing them they would be able to opt out of interest-based ad targeting if they wanted to by visiting an ad industry website or by adjusting their smartphone settings.

Advertising Age noted, however, that Facebook would not be honouring the "do-not-track" setting on web browsers as a spokesman explained there was no industry consensus on the issue.

The move comes just as TRUSTe, the data privacy management company, launches an enhanced mobile app enabling advertisers to provide privacy controls and more relevant ads for consumers.

The app allows users to actively manage personal preferences for interest-based advertising and share interests with a network of certified advertising partners for a customised privacy-safe advertising experience.

Data sourced from Facebook, Advertising Age, New York Times; additional content by Warc staff