It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It

You’ll Never Guess Where Facebook Is Hiding Its Targeted Ad Icon

Hard-to-find transparency.
Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 8.28.29 AM

(Photo: youradchoices.com)

The Federal Trade Commission didn’t mince words about behavioral targeting when it said, back in 2009, that the online advertising industry needs to get better at self-policing, “or it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by our Commission.”

In response, industry leaders developed a number of self-regulatory principles. One of their brilliant ideas? A little turquoise “AdChoices” icon on display ads that directs consumers to more information on behavioral targeting–sorry “interest-based advertising“–and how to opt-out.

Google and Yahoo started showing the icon in 2011, but don’t worry if you didn’t see them. A survey from last fall found that only 20 percent of web users noticed.

This week, “after months of public and private complaints from ad agencies and advertisers,” AdAge reports that Facebook is adding those icons to display ads served through the FBX ad exchange, which appear on the right-hand rail. (Think of the Zappos or Priceline ads you see when you abandon your shopping cart, rather than sponsored stories–for now.)

Only rather than appearing directly on the ads, the icon will only show up when users scroll over the gray ‘x’ that appears above the ads on the right-hand rail:

Even the “x” only appears when someone mouses over it, so people not familiar with the feature won’t always be made aware that an ad was targeted using third-party data gathered elsewhere online.

As AdAge notes that may not comply with FTC guidelines that call for a “clear and prominent notice” for behaviorally targeted ads. But Facebook is likely more worried about whether you’ll click on them at all.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com

Comments

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