Photo: Flickr / SFP579
Facebook made a fascinating announcement today about how users’ accounts are linked to their offline shopping behaviour. The social network has begun a partnership with Datalogix that allows it to match aggregated Facebook data with data of offline purchases from stores. The data allows advertisers to compare sales results from Facebook users who saw a Facebook ad and those who did not.The data doesn’t specifically identify anyone by name. Rather it links email addresses customers may have given stores, such as supermarkets and groceries, with the email addresses they used for Facebook via anonymous “hashes,” a type of code. Facebook Privacy Engineer Joey Tyson wrote in a blog:
We compare hashes of some Facebook data with hashes provided to us by Datalogix. Once we compare, we are able to send corresponding data on the reach of large-scale ad campaigns, which Datalogix uses to create aggregate reports comparing product purchases by large groups of people who did or did not see an ad.
… Datalogix does not send us any of their purchase data, meaning we cannot specifically tell whether or not you purchased a marketer’s product. Finally, with this partnership, Datalogix only sends the marketer aggregate information about large groups of people. None of this data is attributable to an individual Facebook user.
The move is already controversial: EPIC, the privacy advocacy group, wants the FTC to investigate whether the Datalogix pact breaks Facebook’s previous promises not to use certain types of user information.
In a related move, Facebook also said it will allow users to see how they are being targeted by ads in Facebook Exchange, the new real-time bidding platform for advertisers that Facebook set up a few weeks ago: Basically, users will see an “X” on every FBX ad, which they can click on for more info:
When we show an FBX ad on Facebook, it includes an “X” link that lets you provide feedback about ads. We also provide a link that lets you learn more about and choose to opt out of future ads from the service provider responsible for that ad. Also, we only work with providers that agree to technical and policy requirements that protect the privacy of personal information.
We’re betting the X is similar to the new FBX logo, pictured below:
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