Facebook Myths: What you need to know about Behavioural Retargeting

People are coming forward, and are sparking conversations about Facebook stalking them. According to most of the accounts, strange ads start showing up on their timeline right after talking about it. Those were the ads they have not even looked up on Facebook or any other search engine. Those users have not clicked or encountered anything related to those ads. This makes impressions or engagements via likes or reacts unlikely. With this “conspiracy theory”, as some call it, is Facebook really wiretapping the microphones of our devices to listen to what we are saying?


The answer somehow relates to what we call behavioural retargeting. Before we delve into that, Facebook has said a few things about this allegation.


Sheer coincidence?

On its company blog in June 2016, Facebook has posted an official statement regarding its denial of this practice. In front of all of the US Congress more recently, Facebook Inc founder, and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said “No” when asked by Michigan Sen. Gary Peters if Facebook has been listening on its users’ devices. Of course, it is easy for him to say no. However, this has been debunked by the ad-targeting division of the company called Facebook Pixel. Facebook Pixel, created by Antonio García Martínez, is a piece of code which can be applied on any website virtually. With this, the massive social media platform collects information about your activities like the items you look up, the posts you read, and more.


More than this, snooping around microphones would require harder tasks, and would definitely be detectable. Ultimately, along with the heavy task of listening to other people’s conversations at all times, most advertisers do not care about personal, and specific data since it would be more productive to hit on the interests of the general public. Conversations every day are not always meaningful since language is packed with sarcasm, innuendos, and more. This surveillance theory requires loads of work yet provides little substantial data which makes it all the more unlikely.


What is behavioural retargeting?

While Facebook claims to not snoop around via its users’ microphones, it sure does have strategies on how to know the interests of its audiences. The question is, should you be worried?


Basically, behavioural retargeting is the placing of the ads you see online based on your previous internet activities. If you had searched something about furniture pieces, ads about furniture pieces would show up on your news feed.


How does Facebook retargeting work?

Facebook detailed targeting off by sifting its audiences, and designating them based on several factors like interests, demographics, behaviours, and other categories. Here are the options that Facebook behavioural retargeting offers you:


Digital Activities

Targeting by a user’s Digital Activity marks people based on their actions online, and the devices they use. Segments under this include a wide range of options that categorises users’ digital activities. One example is the Event Creators segment. This involves users who are active in organising both corporate, and personal events. Ads like the products they use for events, and other business-related offers might show up on their news feed.


Mobile Device User

This behavioural target is highly advisable for software, and app producers fit for a specific user’s device. Have you ever wondered why a lot of gaming, lifestyle, and other kinds of apps show up on your news feed? It also helps in finding audience segments that might prefer high-end products or cheaper ones. For example, someone using a more expensive device might be well off, and might prefer high-end products.


Seasonal, and Events

Some products which are in demand only in several seasons. For example, flowers, and chocolates reach their peak in sales during Valentine’s season. With this, Facebook’s behavioural retargeting may base on the season or the events on a specific location. If there are big games or competitions in a specific location, you can expect to see ads relating to those.



Travel behaviours have been one of the most exciting groups in Facebook audience targeting. This does not only concern travel agencies or online operators. If you are also a commuter, ads will also show up about your experiences while commuting. An interesting book, app, or podcast might also show up.


Purchase behaviour

Simply put, purchase behaviour targeting would also present you with other ads or products that may be related to what you have recently purchased. This will highly be in demand for e-commerce.


Above shows a little clarification about Facebook allegedly spying on its users, and how behavioural retargeting works. Some may think Facebook has been snooping around, but maybe it is just behavioural marketing at work. With behavioural marketing, you might find it easy to locate products. With the rise of the current digital age, many advances systems start showing up.


Facebook has become one of the reliable breeding grounds for rich advertising opportunities, and connection to audiences. If you want to have a chance in navigating this massive space, you might need the help of social media marketing which can handle the marketing twists, and turns of your Facebook presence.