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Why am I seeing this? How Facebook decided what goes on your newsfeed

In an attempt to become more transparent with how the newsfeed works and improve the user experience, Facebook is rolling out an upgrade for the “Why am I seeing this post/ad” feature.

Facebook’s new feature will enable users to understand why they are seeing a specific post by giving information on the popularity of the specific post over others, or the fact that you have liked the posts of certain friends more often than others. Aside from this information, there will also be the option to personalise your preferences regarding the types of posts you see, and you can even “mute” the activity of certain friends on your feed.Scrolling through the newsfeed is perhaps the main reason one opens the Facebook app. Even if most of us have hundreds of friends, we only see the posts of maybe 30 people with whom we interact more often and we’re reactive to their activity. Every like, comment, video watch and click is registered and processed by Facebook’s algorithm which ultimately aims to enhance and personalise the newsfeed experience. Therefore, Facebook gives you more content similar to what you liked and interacted with.

Facebook has not stopped here, however, has also improved the information in the “Why am I seeing this ad?”. Currently, users can get basic details regarding the reason they see an ad, usually being the fact that they have previously visited the website or that they fall within a certain demographic.

A less known feature can be found in the settings section where users remove any interests or page likes they consider irrelevant or hide ad topics such as alcohol and parenting. All the interests are available in the ad preferences section and they can be optimised to get more relevant ads.

With the new feature, which is being rolled out globally this month, Facebook will give away data regarding potential custom audiences, a less obvious targeting method which involves the advertiser uploading the user’s hashed personal information such as email or phone number, which is later matched with a user profile and will be useful to serve ads.

All Response Media viewpoint

More understanding and information on the algorithm, alongside the option to edit the preferences, are definitely a plus for the newsfeed experience. This is bound to extend the time the user spends on the platform; therefore it increases the opportunity to interact with more brand content.

Also, it would be interesting to see how Facebook users react to the news of having their personal information being used by advertisers for targeting purposes. Even though custom audiences and the use of email addresses for retargeting purposes is by no means a new technique, it is likely that it may come as a surprise for some.

We’re expecting to see a positive impact with the upcoming update as it would be easier for the users to edit their preferences which will make the advertising experience more relevant and tailored for the topics, they are interested in. This would then translate to more engaged audiences which will hopefully improve advertising performance. However, there’s a possibility that the transparency will lead to some audiences shrinking in volume as people would remove themselves from certain “labels”.

At All Response Media, we will continue to monitor the impact of these changes as the new feature rolls out.