Everything you need to know about ads on Facebook

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 21, 2015
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Facebook

Advertisement is one of Facebook's primary revenue sources. You may see ads on your Facebook News Feed, mobile apps and other locations on the site.

Businesses create these ads on Facebook and control who sees them in detail. They have access to parameters for that, for instance gender, age or interests, to show ads only to their target audience.

Facebook introduced interest-based advertisement last year on the site. This takes into account other user activity on the Internet, for instance which websites a user visits, and will prioritize matching ads based on the activity.

What most Facebook users don't know is that the site gives them some control over ads they see. This includes explanation why an ad is shown among other things.

Find out why an ad is shown to you on Facebook

facebook ad why am i seeing this

A click on the small down arrow icon on the top right of an advertisement on Facebook displays a context menu with ad-related options.

The first allows you to hide this ad, which is saved as a preference and will show less ads of the type on the site.

The "Why am I seeing this" is interesting, as it may reveal to you why the ad is displayed to you. When you select the option, an overlay is displayed with information and links to advertisement preferences.

facebook ad explanation

The "why am I seeing this ad" page for an Amazon ad revealed the following explanation why the ad is displayed to me on Facebook:

One of the reasons you're seeing this ad is because Amazon.de added you to a list of people they want to reach on Facebook. They were able to reach you because you're on their customer list or have provided them with your contact information off of Facebook.

There you find an option to hide all advertisement from the company if you don't like it, and an option to manage your ad preferences.

Back to the context menu. You may also inform Facebook that you liked the ad by selecting "this ad is useful" which will have the opposite effect than "hide ad" in the menu.

Facebook Advertisement Preferences

facebook ads

Ads on Facebook, regardless of whether you are using the Web version or an application, are controlled in the preferences.

Open the Ads section of the Settings with this link https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=ads or open the Settings manually and switch to Ads there once the page has loaded fully.

There you find three options to customize your advertisement experience and exposure on the site.

Ads based on my use of websites and apps - This controls whether you see interest-based ads on Facebook. You can turn it on or off.

Can you see online interest-based ads from Facebook?
One of the ways we show you ads is based on your use of websites and apps that use Facebook's technologies. For example, if you visit travel websites, you might then see ads on Facebook for hotel deals. We call this online interest-based advertising.

Ads with my social actions - Defines who can see your social actions on ads, e.g. a recommendation of a product in ad form.

This setting applies to your likes, comments, shares, app usage and events joined that appear with ads your friends see. Ads like this will only be visible to people who have permission to view the action you've taken.

Ads based on my preferences - Ads are shown to you based on things you like (which are based on likes on Facebook). You may open this page to control these https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/edit/

We want to show you ads that you'll find relevant. That's why we have ad preferences, a tool that lets you view, add and remove preferences we created for you based on things like your profile information, actions you take on Facebook and websites and apps you use off Facebook

Everything you need to know about ads on Facebook
Article Name
Everything you need to know about ads on Facebook
Find out why ads are shown to you on Facebook, how to disable them and to control what is shown to you on the web version and in Facebook apps.

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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, https://www.ghacks.net/2023/03/31/whats-gif-explanation-and-how-to-use-it/#comment-4562919 (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IYl1sTIOHI

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/07/09/how-to-send-gifs-on-iphone-two-different-ways/]. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current ghacks.net is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, ghacks.net has changed in quality.
    >> ghacks.net/2023/09/02/microsoft-is-removing-wordpad-from-windows/#comment-4573130
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    >> ghacks.net/2023/08/31/in-windows-11-the-line-between-legitimate-and-adware-becomes-increasingly-blurred/#comment-4573117
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin: ghacks.net##.hentry,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))
    >> ghacks.net/2023/09/01/windows-11-development-overview-of-the-august-2023-changes/#comment-4573033

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.
    >> github.com/martinrotter/rssguard#readme

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am

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