Meta’s updating its ‘Why Am I Seeing This Ad’ listing, which provides contextual information on ad targeting, and how Meta’s systems display ads to each user.
Meta first launched its ‘Why Am I Seeing This Ad’ element in 2013, as a means to help people understand how its ad targeting works, and dispel rumors around such (like the app is listening to your conversations), while also guiding users towards the various options they have for controlling the ads that they see in its apps.
Since then, Meta has added a range of contextual refinements and additions, which it’s now looking to take even further, with more notes on why each user is seeing each ad.
As explained by Meta:
“Beginning today, the “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool on Facebook will include:
- Information summarized into topics about how your activity both on and off our technologies - such as liking a post on a friend’s Facebook page or interacting with your favorite sports website - may inform the machine learning models we use to shape and deliver the ads you see.
- New examples and illustrations explaining how our machine learning models connect various topics to show you relevant ads.
- More ways to find our ads controls. You will now be able to access Ads Preferences from additional pages in the “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool.”
The new information panels will provide more contextual oversight as to why you’re seeing each ad, and how your various actions impact such.
They'll also provide more info for advertisers as to how Meta's systems will display their ads to users. As you can see in these notes, the explainers point to all the various indicators that Meta's systems can use to target people, and maximize your ad performance through its machine learning system. That could help provide more assurance in such, and give more perspective on who will see your ad.
Meta says that the updates come as a result of various conversations with privacy experts and other stakeholders as to what it should include in its ad transparency listings. One of the key notes of feedback was that Meta should be more transparent around how machine learning models contribute to the ads people see on our services.
“We are committed to using machine learning models responsibly. Being transparent about how we use machine learning is essential because it ensures that people are aware that this technology is a part of our ads system and that they know the types of information it is using. By stepping up our transparency around how our machine learning models work to deliver ads, we aim to help people feel more secure and increase our accountability.”
The new explainers provide more plain-language information as to how Meta targets users based on their activity, and the various inputs it collects, which will give people more capacity to manage their options, or at the least, understand how the process works.
This comes as Meta continues to refine its ad systems, in order to mitigate data loss as a result of Apple’s ATT update. With more users opting out of data sharing with Meta’s apps, the company has had to restructure significant portions of its ad targeting around machine learning, as opposed to explicit user signals across apps.
That’s now delivering better results, as per Meta’s most recent earnings report, but it has taken the platform some time to get its systems on track. It’s also why Meta is now looking to be more transparent about machine learning, specifically, within its process.
And while it may not be a huge change for most users, it is interesting to see more data insight provided within this element, which could help more people understand where Meta’s ads come from. If they go look.
You can access the ‘Why Am I Seeing This Ad’ info panel via the three dots menu in the upper-right-hand corner of any ad you see in your Facebook Feed. Meta says that the updated version of ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ is rolling out globally on Facebook first, before expanding to Instagram in future.