You see ads everyday on Facebook, but you probably never think about why you’re being targeted for a particular ad. Sure, sometimes it’s fairly obvious. 

For instance, I love watching horror movies and I always see a Facebook Ad for the new horror TV channel Shudder. Also, I travel a lot, so I see a lot of ads about travel.

This makes sense.

Other times though, you have no clue why you’re seeing an ad. When researching for this blog post, I saw this ad on my News Feed.

I’m not planning on going back to college. I’m not thinking of moving to California. I don’t root for the USC Trojans in football.

I’m clearly being targeted for a reason. If only there was a way to know…

Surprise! Facebook actually makes it really easy to see why we’re being targeted (if you know where to look).

You might be shocked to know that there’s a lightly grayed upside down carrot that you click to get this info, and it’s on EVERY SINGLE ad you see on Facebook.

Remember that USC ad?

When I click on “Why am I seeing this” this is the answer I get…

One reason you’re seeing this ad is that USC Master of Communication Management Online wants to reach people with the education level “Bachelor’s degree” listed on their Facebook profiles.
There may be other reasons you’re seeing this ad, including that USC Master of Communication Management Online wants to reach people ages 22 and older who live or were recently in the United States. This is information based on your Facebook profile and where you’ve connected to the internet.

Yes, I have a Bachelor’s degree (go Tar Heels!). Yes, I’m over 22 (no gray hairs yet). Yes, I live in USA (USA! USA!). It all checks out ✔️✔️✔️

Now I know why I’m being targeted on Facebook, so what?

Good point. Too bad there isn’t a way to curate the information that Facebook uses for targeting purposes…

Oh, wait! There is, and you can find all your “interests” on this hard-to-find page within Facebook settings:

On this page, you can see the full list of Interests that are connected to your profile. These are just a fraction of mine…

For the record, 13 of the 18 interests listed on the above screenshot are accurate. I don’t know anything about the movie Brick, and can’t stand rom coms. I haven’t listened to nor like (at all) “Contemporary worship music” or “Christian music”. I cannot name a single show on TLC. 

Here’s another screenshot that inspired the title of this post.

If you click on any of the interests, you’ll be able to see example ads. When I click on “Burial”, this is what (disturbingly) pops up…

Want to see who has your email?

Not only can you see your “interests”, you’re also able to which advertisers have you on their contact list.

Shame on you whoever is sharing my email with car companies. I’ve never signed up for a Kia or Toyota email list (I’m a proud 2004 Honda Civic owner, and plan on driving that until it catches fire).

Connecting the dots between this page and Facebook Ads

Going back to my “interests” (first “interest” screenshot), if someone were to create a Facebook Ad that targets the interest “Ra Ra Riot” without any other criteria, I might be seeing that ad.

If I hated Ra Ra Riot (which I don’t), I could go on my ad preferences page, and click on the X in the top right to remove it as an interest.

Why did I write this post?

I wrote this post for a couple reasons.

  1. It’s really fun to see why you’re being targeted for ads
  2. This information should give you some insight into Interest targeting on Facebook

I plan on publishing more on the latter to enlighten you on the pros and cons of relying on “interests” as one of your primary forms of targeting. Stay tuned.

View this post in a video format. Watch the video below.