Facebook letting advertisers take a deeper look at users' posts

Facebook will provide a new pipeline of data to select marketers

A Facebook ad exec drew up this whiteboard to lay out the company's various ad products and vision, at Facebook's headquarters on Dec. 10, 2014.
A Facebook ad exec drew up this whiteboard to lay out the company's various ad products and vision, at Facebook's headquarters on Dec. 10, 2014.

Next time you start a conversation on Facebook about that new shirt or watch you bought, you might be unwittingly delivering juicy feedback to the retailer.

Facebook plans to start funneling more of its data on users' activity to marketers, to give them a better sense of what people think about their products, and better identify the types of people who are talking about their products.

This pipeline of data, which Facebook calls "topic data," is being developed in partnership with DataSift, a data analysis company that looks at everything from social posts to news and blogs. Starting out, a select number of marketers that work with DataSift in the U.S. and the U.K. will gain access to the data, Facebook said on Tuesday.

This type of Facebook data has previously been made available to marketers by third parties, but it offered only a limited view of what people were saying and of their demographic details.

Now, advertisers stand to gain more useful information that could inform how they structure their advertising campaigns, both on and off Facebook.

With the data, a company that makes a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity's effects on their hair, Facebook said. Or, a fashion retailer can see which clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.

Facebook already offers sophisticated tools to marketers to let them target their ads to users based on, among other things, their "likes," interests, location and demographic information.

Topic data, in contrast, cannot be used by marketers to target ads directly. Rather, it's designed to provide guidance for marketers, Facebook said.

The data will be anonymized and aggregated, Facebook said, without any personally identifying information. Activity within Facebook's Messenger app won't be included, the company said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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