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Facebook shows ads to non-users

News, 30 May 2016

SAN FRANCISCO: Two years after its launch, Facebook Audience Network is being expanded to all internet users regardless of whether they are on Facebook or not.

To date, the social network has only served ads to Facebook users when they visited third-party websites and mobile apps that belonged to its Audience Network.

But that is changing after Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's VP of Ads and Business Platform, published a blog post signalling its expansion to "help improve the online advertising experience for everyone".

"We introduced Facebook Audience Network two years ago to help publishers and developers support their services by showing relevant, high quality ads to people who visit their websites and apps," he said.

"But in the past, we've only shown ads in these places to people who have Facebook accounts. Today, we're expanding Audience Network so publishers and developers can show better ads to everyone – including those who don't use or aren't connected to Facebook."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the change is a subtle one, but is a further step towards Facebook's aim of powering all advertising across the internet and lays down a challenge to Google, which currently dominates the global digital advertising market.

The Journal went on to say that Facebook will use a mix of its own buttons, plugins, cookies and other data about users' browsing sessions so as to gain better insight into how to target users more effectively.

For example, if a non-Facebook user visits a cooking-related site, Facebook may later target them elsewhere across the internet with relevant ads associated with cooking.

But Facebook is not interested in just expanding its targeting and reach because Bosworth also emphasised in his blog that everyone will have controls over the ads they see, including tools to opt out of online interest-based advertising.

He also said Facebook has developed technology to determine when someone clicks on a mobile ad by accident, so a user doesn't get taken to an unintended website or app.

Data sourced from Facebook, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff