Facebook possesses a ton of information about its users, but a recent study conducted in the U.S. and UK discovered that it hardly needs it to effectively target advertising to us. Indeed, the researchers discovered that the social media giant could successfully target ads using just one “Like.”
The researchers used this single “Like” per study participant to figure out if they were introverted or extroverted, then used that data point to infer more about their personalities. They then created online ad campaigns for beauty products and gaming apps, and targeted them at about 3.5 million people — mostly women ages 18-40 in the UK. The results were astonishing; by just targeting ads with one piece of information, sales went up by as much as 50 percent over the ads that didn’t target at all. (The researchers didn’t make any profit from the study.)
“I was surprised that we got the effect with so little information,” said Sandra Matz, a social scientist at Columbia Business School. “We don’t know that much about people, and yet it still has a pretty big effect. You can imagine if you were using the full Facebook profile to make individual level predictions about people’s personalities, the effects would be even bigger.”
Indeed, it’s no wonder so many Facebook ads seem to read our minds. With all of our data it can readily access, the company practically does know what we’re thinking.