Facebook Rolling Out Targeted Ads Based On Phone Numbers And Email Addresses

Don’t be surprised if in the next few weeks you start to notice Facebook ads from smaller shops and companies that you use in the real world.

A new targeted Facebook ad feature allows businesses to upload hashed copies of their own customer information – such as email addresses, names, phone numbers etc – and then compare it with Facebook’s collection of user information. This will create a list of users whose contact information matches up with the data set uploaded by the companies.

If someone already uses a shop or service, you might think that the battle is won for that company, but how well-informed are customers about special offers, new products and other information? By putting the Facebook Page of a familiar brand in front of them, then it’s fair to assume that the ads will have a higher success rate. And companies can go further by targeting certain ads to certain demographics such as age and gender – information garnered from Facebook’s half of the data marriage.

But what about the privacy aspects? Before a company or business uploads its customer information to Facebook that data must be hashed, and the Facebook user information that it is checked against is also hashed, so Facebook itself doesn’t have direct access to it. Similarly, the companies taking out ads cannot see the Facebook information.

There’s more about the possibles uses of this new targeted Facebook ads feature on TechCrunch, where a debate over privacy is also going on in the comments section.