Is Facebook Showing My Competitor’s Ads On My Pages?

Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

Earlier this week, I mentioned someone who spammed me on Facebook. She saw I was a fan of a Facebook business page for a company that does cufflinks. She evidently sells some cufflinks, so she spammed me by sending me a Facebook message.

This story has a weird ending, so make sure you read through the Epilogue, where I reveal the surprise ending! :)

In her spam message, she told me that the company I was a fan of was actually very interested in her cufflinks, so I should check out her website. She linked me to her website. At the time, I wrote her back that she was spamming me, and that was the wrong thing to do.

At the same time, I emailed the cufflink guy and asked him who this was. He said he never heard of her. Well that's odd because her message to me said that he was into what she sells. OK, this makes no sense. I reported her to Facebook as a spammer.

She ended up leaving me a voice mail telling me that she only contacted that guy's fans because he "had the distasteful idea" to put his ads on her business' Facebook page.

It's time for everybody to understand how and why Facebook ads are shown to you.

I'm marked as single. Most of the ads Facebook shows me have to do with dating websites. That's not by accident. I'm in Tucson. I get ads that tell me to go somewhere local to Tucson. I once logged into Facebook from Toronto, Canada. Facebook ads were showing me things in Toronto. Once upon a long time ago, my Facebook profile said I was engaged. I got heaps of ads about planning weddings. I no longer got dating site ads. :)

This is not by accident.

Facebook uses a system of targeting the people you want to see your ads. You can pick things like age, gender, marital status, amount of education, and country of location. You can even pick what words you want there to be in someone's profile, if you want to get that specific! However, Facebook does not (at the time I'm writing this) let you pick WHERE your ad is seen.

Let's use an example. Let's say I want to promote my tour management business. I might say that I want Facebook to show my ad to men and women in the USA, ages 18-30, with any marital status and any education but who mention SXSW (a major music festival) in their profile. If you fit that, you will see my ad at some point. If you do not have SXSW in your profile, no matter what pages you're on, you will NEVER see my ad. You could be on Facebook posting, "I hope I find a tour management company," and you won't see my ad.

Remember that Facebook ads rotate and change all the time.

An ad you see on your profile page may not be there when you refresh. And an ad that's shown to you may only be shown to YOU. Your best friend could then log into his/her Facebook account on your computer, and see TOTALLY different ads. That's because, and I'll say it again, Facebook ads are about who you are, not what computer or page you're on.

So before you misunderstand how Facebook ads work, and think that some sort of competitor is sabotaging your Facebook business page, make sure you understanding how Facebook advertising works. Let's not be liars or spammers in general, and let's not use Facebook to rationalise such bad behaviour.


Well, this chick got in touch with me to explain that these weren't Facebook ads. She had a Facebook page up generally for cufflinks that was being used in a subtle way to promote her business. It was so subtle that my cufflink guy thought it would be OK to post to the wall for that group, promoting his business, since hey, it's a page for people who like cufflinks! OK that was a mistake, but one any of us could have made.

It's still not OK to lose your s**t and try to sabotage someone as some sort of revenue. If someone you don't like joins your Facebook fan page, dump them, and remove their posts. Send them a message saying their post wasn't OK. Do not try to sabotage them. That's not cool.

So my story ends up having a different ending, and therefore a different plot, but I still want to make sure that people understand how ads end up on pages.

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “Is Facebook Showing My Competitor’s Ads On My Pages?”

  1. Janel says:

    Great story but can you have any control over competitors advertising on your page or using your name as a keyword so their ads are shown on your page?

  2. Debbie says:

    Facebook ads go by the keywords in people’s lists of interests. So if your account says you love Apple Computers, Microsoft could choose to target people who say they like Apple. But it’s unlikely that the general public have put YOUR name in their Facebook profiles.
    Again, ads are not about what page it is. They’re more about the person who is surfing. The ads match up with who people are, not what page they’re on.