Facebook to personalize ads for users

Tired of seeing advertisements that have absolutely nothing to do with your interests? Facebook is rolling out a new feature will target you with more personalized ads.

Starting in the U.S. in the next few weeks, the popular social network will mine users' Internet history and app activity to determine which ads appear on their screens.

Currently, Facebook learns about its users' interests through activities done on their Facebook page, such as pages they "like" and what they put on their profile. However, in an announcement Thursday, Facebook said that it would start utilizing a type of Interest-based advertising -- used by many other companies -- that will include information from websites users visit and apps they use.

For example, if a user has been searching the web for a new television, a Facebook ad might show them deals on TVs. And it won't stop there. "Because we think you're interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV," Facebook said in the statement.

A new ad preferences tool will be accessible for every ad on Facebook. It will explain why a certain ad is appearing and will let users add and remove interests so they have more control over the types of ads they see in the future.

"People want to know why they see the ads they do online, and we believe they should be able to learn what information is gathered about them and how that information is being used," a Facebook spokesperson told CBS News in an email. "On Facebook, we're now making this information accessible from every ad we show -- so that you can learn why you're seeing each ad and take action if you want to improve your experience."

For users who do not wish to be targeted with interest-based advertisements, they can opt-out, using the Digital Advertising Alliance opt-out form. However, opting out will have to be done on every computer they use. It also will not apply to every company that uses interest-based ads; only those who are participating in the Digital Advertising Alliance will be affected.

For mobile users, opting out of these interest-based advertisements on smartphones is done differently depending on your phone's operating system. For iOS 7, go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising. For iOS 6, go to Settings > General > About > Advertising. For iOS 4 or 5, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. For Android 2.2 and above, users should go to their Settings > Ads > Enable "Opt out of interest-based advertising."

Advertising represented a hefty chunk of Facebook's $2.59 billion revenue in 2013 -- $2.34 billion. During an earnings call to investors, the company also reported that mobile ad revenue increased from $881 million in the third quarter to $1.25 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. During the first quarter of 2014, total revenues were up 72 percent year-over-year in the first quarter and advertising revenue growth accelerated to 82 percent, the Facebook spokesperson said.

Facebook users in the U.S. will be able to use the ad preference tool in the next few weeks. The company hopes to expand use of this tool to its 1.19 billion monthly active users globally in the next few months.


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