As more and more content has shifted to the internet, online experiences have improved dramatically, becoming more immersive and intuitive. But many digital ads haven’t kept up. We’ve all experienced a lot of bad ads: ads that obscure the content we’re trying to read, ads that slow down load times or ads that try to sell us things we have no interest in buying. Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of our time.
Today, we’re announcing some changes to help with this problem. First, we’re expanding the tools we give people to control their advertising experience. Second, we’re providing an update on our approach to ad blocking on Facebook.
What We’ve Done So Far
For the past few years at Facebook we’ve worked to better understand people’s concerns with online ads. What we’ve heard is that people don’t like to see ads that are irrelevant to them or that disrupt or break their experience. People also want to have control over the kinds of ads they see.
As a result of what we’ve learned, we’ve introduced tools to help people control their experience, improved how we decide which ads to show and created new ad formats that complement, rather than detract from, people’s experience online.
Improving Ad Controls
With today’s announcement, we’re building on these efforts by making ad preferences easier to use, so you can stop seeing certain types of ads. If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences. We also heard that people want to be able to stop seeing ads from businesses or organizations who have added them to their customer lists, and so we are adding tools that allow people to do this. These improvements are designed to give people even more control over how their data informs the ads they see.
Addressing Ad Blocking
When they’re relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, by helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences — like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation. But because ads don’t always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date.
We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.
Some ad blocking companies accept money in exchange for showing ads that they previously blocked — a practice that is at best confusing to people and that reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web. Facebook is one of those free services, and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected. Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we’re putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls.
We believe that these expanded controls give people a better experience with advertising on and off Facebook. We also know there’s more work to do, and we’re continually listening to your feedback to make advertising better for everyone.
Andrew Bosworth is VP Ads and Business Platform at Facebook.