This is how Facebook learns what you buy at physical stores in order to show you relevant ads - and how to opt out
- Facebook gathers information about what you buy - both online and in physical stores - in order to serve you ads that correspond to those purchases.
- The practice is relatively new - it quietly launched in August and is still rolling out globally.
- This is a breakdown of how Facebook learns about your "off-Facebook activity," and how to opt out.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
If you recently bought something at a physical store, you might have noticed an uptick in the number of Facebook ads you saw related to that store or the item you bought.
Through its partnerships with retailers, Facebook learns about what users are buying, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. That data is ultimately used to target ads to people, based on what they're likely to spend money on.
Facebook has been using information about "off-Facebook activity" since August, and the practice is still rolling out globally, a spokesperson told Business Insider. It's already being used by a range of Facebook's advertising clients, including Macy's and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The spokesperson emphasized that data about what people buy off of Facebook is hashed before it's matched to their accounts, meaning Facebook doesn't retain logs of your past purchases - instead, what Facebook does retain is the fact that your account was "matched" to a specific retailer.
Ad money comprises the lion's share of Facebook's revenue - of the $17.6 billion the company made in the third quarter of 2019, $17.3 billion came from ads. Part of what makes Facebook appealing to advertisers is the fine-tuned demographic information on users it offers, borne out through its tools that allow for hyper-targeted ads.
Business Insider asked Facebook to explain how it learns about people's offline purchases. Here's how the process works, and how to opt out.