Facebook offers email and phone number ad targeting

31/08/2012

Facebook is launching a new ad targeting tool that uses email addresses, phone numbers and game and app developers' user IDs to larger advertisers. The advertisers will work directly with a Facebook sales representative, and in order for a company to track a Facebook user using any of that data, the Facebook user has to have already given the company that data on their own.

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It will give advertisers the ability to use phone numbers, email addresses and the “UID” code that Facebook users generate when they install apps on the network.

The idea is that advertisers hand over that data to Facebook, which will match with the user data it already has.

For example, if Virgin America could advertise to people who have already flown on the airline. Both data sets will be scrambled before they’re matched, to ensure neither Virgin nor Facebook would actually know the identity of the people being targeted.

To tackle privacy issues, Facebook says advertisers will have to seek their customers’ permission to use the data for marketing campaigns before they proceed.

"Any personally identifying information will be hashed [scrambled] before being uploaded to Facebook," according to a disclosure on the tool.

The news was initially reported as a ‘glitch’ spotted by blog Inside Facebook, as a new targeting option temporarily appeared in Facebook's Power Editor tool prior to its official release.

Facebook had been planning to roll this out next week, but the glitch caught the social network by surprise, and caused a scramble to explain how it works.

Facebook declined to say which advertisers and how many of them had participated in beta testing in recent weeks.

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