Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

Facebook Is Showing You Some Ads You Asked Not to See

clockwork_orange_eyesOnline ads can be annoying. Especially when the same advertiser shows you ads over and over again.

On most of the Web, there’s not much you can do about it much of the time, unless the advertiser is targeting ads to you based on the websites you visit. In that case, you might be able to opt out of that targeting. Otherwise, you’re stuck seeing those ads.

So props to Facebook for giving its users an option to “hide all” ads from a given advertiser when you hover over an ad and click on the “X” that appears. Problem is, that feature doesn’t always work.

Last week, I clicked on that very tab after Facebook showed me one too many ads from online retailer Bonobos on the right rail of the page. The next day, Bonobos ads were still showing up in the same spot. I clicked on “hide all” again, but more Bonobos ads showed up the day after that. You get the idea.

So who’s at fault here? Facebook says Facebook is.

A company spokesperson said that its current system categorizes ads by the URL of the page that the ad links out to, not by the advertiser showing the ad. So if the same advertiser shows you different ads that link to different product pages, for example, within their own website, the “hide all” function won’t stop them from showing up. (Ad-tech folks: Feel free to tell me if it’s more nuanced than that.)

The spokesperson tells me the company is working on an overhaul to its categorization system, and that a fix should be in place in the coming months. Same goes for having the “hide all” function work across the News Feed, right rail and mobile, which isn’t the case now.

Still, it seems odd to leave a feature up that only works some of the time. I’m told the company would rather get the feedback from users about what ads they don’t want to see than eliminate the feature altogether. That’s Facebook’s choice, obviously, but a curious one.

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