California, (October, 2013) –Have you noticed a curious phenomenon on Facebook? Suddenly it seems like your friends are posting ads for companies like Starbucks, Walmart and Tide in your newsfeed. “Why would your friend Jennifer post an ad for Tide? Does she want everyone to know how much she loves clean sheets?” It turns out Jennifer probably had no idea that her profile photo was linked to an advertisement on your newsfeed, and what’s more, she is probably seeing ads that look like they were posted from your profile on her newsfeed as well.
It’s called “social advertising.” According to Facebook’s website: “Everyone wants to know what their friends like. That’s why we pair ads and friends – an easy way to find products and services you’re interested in, based on what your friends share and like.” When you like a company’s Facebook page, post a positive comment on their page, or check-in at a retail location or restaurant, advertisers can utilize your name and profile picture on ads posted to your friend’s newsfeed, announcing that “Allison likes Target” or “Jeff checked in at Chipotle” followed by an ad for the business.
Before you make plans to ditch your Facebook account for Google +, keep in mind that social marketing is the new wave in advertising and just about everyone is jumping on board. Google recently announced that starting November 11th, if you use Google + or Google Play and either comment upon or follow a post, or follow a brand, then friends, family and others may see your profile picture attached to an advertisement related to that subject. If you’ve endorsed something on Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) you’ll appear in your friend’s search results as someone who “knows something about” what they are searching for.
Facebook reassures its users that your endorsement of a store or restaurant is never shared with anyone other than your Facebook friends, and they don’t sell your personal information to advertisers without your permission. If your photo is paired with an ad, then it is only your profile picture and not any other photo from albums you (or others) have posted.
Businesses have discovered that people are more inclined to read and consider an ad that appears to have been endorsed by someone they know. Similar to the tendency to seek out a personal referral when you need to find a new mechanic or plumber – if Sally likes it, it must be worth checking out. Placing the ad in your newsfeed makes it nearly impossible to ignore. This leads to more effective ads, customer acquisition and revenue: a serious win in the world of online advertising where many of us have grown immune to banner ads and pop-ups.
Many take a “c’est la vie” attitude toward this use of their image and name. If you love a restaurant you frequent in town, then what’s the harm of sharing that information with people you’re already connected with? You would probably have readily recommended it anyway if they had asked.
On the other hand, some feel that this use of their name and likeness to benefit a business is disingenuous and intentionally misleading. Short of deleting your profile from all social media sites and swearing off the Internet, there are a few things you can do. First of all, know that if you never “like” a page or endorse a service with a glowing review, then your friends won’t see ads with your information attached to them. But you can take it one step further. Google and Facebook both offer users a chance to “opt out” of being linked to advertising.
For Facebook: Click the cog symbol in the upper right corner of the menu bar and choose Account Settings. Select Ads from the panel on the left and then click Edit on the section labeled “Ads & Friends.” From the drop-down menu following “Pair my social actions with ads for” make sure that “no one” is selected. For more information about Facebook advertising, visit: https://www.facebook.com/about/ads.
For Google: Log into your Google account and then go to the Shared Endorsements Settings page. Un-check the box next to “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements…” and save your changes. More information about the recent changes to Google advertising can be found at: http://www.google.com/policies/terms/changes/.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
About Nerds On Call: Established in a spare room in Redding, Calif., in March 2004, Nerds On Call offers on-site computer and laptop repair services to consumers and businesses. Nerds On Call provides trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems, and virtually every other form of digital entertainment. In 2009, 2010, & 2011 the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing private companies. With 7 locations across California and Oregon, Nerds On Call serves more than 40,000 satisfied customers per year. For more information, visit callnerds.com or call 1-800-919-NERD.