Instagram gives users new control over personalized ads using third-party data
Instagram is rolling out a new control that lets users opt out of personalized ads from its advertising partners—and could force marketers to change their approach to the platform.
The settings, called “Data from Partners,” will prompt users to choose whether the Facebook-owned social media platform can use data from partners to serve up more targeted ads. The technology is why ads for exercise gadgets appear after browsing websites related to back pain, for instance, or why ads for noise-canceling headphones seem to follow users around even on different platforms—long after an initial visit.
Users will see a one-time notification inside the app that prompts them to keep or change their settings. Instagram says opting out will not change the volume of advertisements, and the setting will roll out to all users globally throughout the week. The choices will also reflect changes a user may have previously made on Facebook through its Ad Preferences settings.
Instagram itself has seen several recent changes—in August, the network introduced a short-form video platform called Instagram Reels, a move seen as an answer to rival platform ByteDance’s TikTok. The new “Data from Partners” setting is set to give users more control over how Instagram handles data from advertisers and partners. Facebook says the changes are not related to new privacy settings Apple is rolling out in iOS.
"Giving people more information and control over their data is something we have heard consistently from people who use Facebook apps, privacy advocates, and regulators,” a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe this is the right thing to do for people.”
The changes mirror moves from Facebook earlier this year—the social media network rolled out a setting to control “Off-Facebook Activity,” letting users delete data on Facebook that brands could use to serve targeted ads.
Mirroring Facebook preferences
“Instagram built this setting to mirror the existing Facebook Ad Preferences setting as a way for people to take more control over what data is used to personalize their ads,” said a Facebook company spokesperson. “Both settings will allow people to tell us whether we can use data about their activity from partners, including data about their activity from third-party sites and apps or offline interactions with advertisers, to personalize their ads.”
Advertisers say Instagram’s new settings could change their approach to the platform. Harry Kargman, Founder and CEO of digital advertising platform and exchange Kargo says Instagram and Facebook’s value to advertisers comes from its ability to attribute spending to returns through user information. “If that attribution loop for whatever reason no longer is readable or viable, if you’re not getting good metrics or analytics, if the lack of cookies and changes in privacy law make that closed loop no longer work, then Instagram and Facebook are facing a massive reckoning,” says Kargman.
Ryan Detert, CEO and Founder of Influential, says brands make every decision based on the audience—and identifying the audience’s preferences are critical. Influential matches brands to influencers through data. “Advertisers need to make sure there’s enough value on the platform,” says Detert. “The advertiser side will not want to put their dollars [on a platform if] they can’t see their viral gains.”
“Advertisers will shift their dollars to where it performs best,” says Detert.