Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

Facebook Starts Sharing What It Knows about You

Your data is most valuable when combined with what other companies know.

  • September 24, 2012

Facebook can now connect what you do on its site with your purchases at more than 1,000 retailers, according to a report syndicated by CNN from the Financial Times. Combined with the news last week that Facebook was starting to offer ads for mobile apps and webpages, it’s a sign that Facebook is ready to link up what it knows about its users with other data sources. That may change how some users of the social network feel about the way it does business.

The deal revealed today is with Datalogix, a company that collects purchasing data from around 70 million U.S. households drawn from loyalty cards and other sources. E-mails, names and other information from that can be used to match up with Facebook’s logs of what its users have been doing, says the FT:

“The e-mails and other identifying information are made anonymous and collected into groups of people who saw an ad and people who did not. Datalogix compiles a report for Facebook and its advertisers to measure which creative approaches and demographic targeting persuade people to buy specific products offline.”

Last week, TechCrunch reported that Facebook had begun taking money from companies that want to target ads in mobile apps or on mobile websites using what is known about Facebook users:

“The targetable data includes your age, gender, location, Likes, friends who’ve used an advertiser’s app and basically any other targeting options in Facebook’s standard ads marketplace.”

As I wrote in June, Facebook’s trove of information on its users may bring it the most riches if the company can find a way to sell analyzed, digested chunks of it to other interested companies (see “What Facebook Knows”). It looks like the effort to do that is well underway. However, while I’d guess most users expect what they do on Facebook to shape the ads they see on that site, it seems likely that most do not expect that information to be used by companies other than Facebook.

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