Skip to main content

Facebook to allow ad targeting based on phone numbers, email

Facebook is gearing up to let advertisers find prospects based on personal information like email addresses, user IDs, and phone numbers.

InsideFacebook first reported the new option after some users temporarily saw it go live. Facebook confirmed that it has been testing this new feature with a select group of advertisers and will be rolling it out from this week. It essentially lets marketers target ads to their existing customers on Facebook.

Here's how it works: businesses will be able to upload to Facebook their existing lists of customer email addresses, phone numbers, and user IDs. From there, Facebook overlays the information with its own user data and marketers can target ads to the users whose contact information matches up.

Any personally identifiable information uploaded to Facebook is hashed so the social network doesn't have access to it. Similarly, Facebook's own data will be hashed, so neither marketer nor Facebook will know the identity of the people being targeted.

"Advertisers don't get any data from Facebook; Facebook doesn't get any data from advertisers," a spokeswoman said in an email. "So the tool doesn't grant advertisers access to specific, personally identifiable phone numbers, emails, etc; it gives advertisers an anonymous 'match' cluster to target campaigns against."

Companies can serve ads to these users offering a discount, soliciting them to become a fan on Facebook, or highlighting new features of a product. Or, they can further drill down and target ads towards a certain demographic, like males between a certain age range.

Also on the Facebook ad front, the social network recently began expanding the reach of page post ads. Specifically, the company has begun testing a process that allows advertisers to specifically aim their content toward the newsfeeds of Facebook users who are not already a fan of the brand page.