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How Facebook ads work ?

We often see ads on Facebook. Some of them are relevant and some of them are not. Let’s try to understand how these ads are shown to users.

Businesses create advert

A business uses Facebook to reach out to crowd to promote its product and services. They create an advert using Facebook Advert and specify criteria to target specific audience by giving city, age, gender and interests.

Interest based ads

Based on users’ interests and criteria provided by the businesses, ads are shown to them. Users’ interests are captured based on what pages they like, what posts they click in the news feed, what posts they share, which Facebook apps they use, data providers and advertisers of Facebook. Sometimes one might get less relevant ad, this happens because a business specifies a vague criteria e.g. a city name.

Use of cookies and similar technologies

Cookies, pixels, device identifiers, local storage are collectively known as ‘Cookies and other similar technologies’. Facebook uses them for delivering, securing and understanding products and services on and off the Facebook Services. Most of the browsers and devices support these technologies. They help in determining if a user has seen a particular ad before.

Work of data providers

Facebook’s data providers handle user data and help advertisers to find right people to share their ad with. Some of the Facebook’s data providers are Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon, Experian and Merkle.


Facebook does not share user’s personal information like name, contact information with the business without user’s consent. However, user’s profile picture and name can be coupled with an ad to show his activity e.g. liking a page or ad. This appears in news feeds of people who have permission to view user’s page likes.

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