Facebook to Give Users More Say About Ads in Their News Feeds

People Who Hide Ads in a Category Like App Installs Will See Less of Them in the Future

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Facebook is updating its ad algorithms to give users more say about what kinds of ads they see in their news feeds.

An offshoot of a push that began this summer to provide users with more information about the organic posts in their news feeds, the company is trying to make the way it targets ads more transparent.

Users have long been able to either "like" or "hide" ads; now Facebook is making those actions more important in determining which ads to show them in the future.

In practice, this means that users who've closed out multiple ads in the same category -- for example, ads for mobile app installs -- by clicking "hide" should see fewer of those ads going forward. Meanwhile, the fact that a user has liked or otherwise interacted with multiple ads in a category -- for example, movies -- makes it more likely for them to see a greater frequency of movie ads.

"That means people should see ads that are more relevant to them, and fewer ads that they might not be interested in," according to a Facebook blog post.

While Facebook doesn't break out how much ad revenue it generates from news feed versus placements on the right rail of desktop screens, it's safe to say that the former has become a far more important revenue source. (All of Facebook's mobile ad revenue -- which constituted 41% of the total in the second quarter -- comes from news feed.) In that context, Facebook's move to give users more control over what shows up in their news feeds and a way of expunging more of the ads they find jarring makes sense.

However, it's the algorithms dictating which organic posts appear in news feed that have historically been more controversial. A critical mass of users and marketers reported last fall that the organic reach of their posts had fallen off, in some cases dramatically.

GroupM Next, for one, did a study into pages operated by 25 big brands that showed that the number of users seeing posts from a brand they "liked" was down 38% over a five-week period.

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