Personalised ads on Facebook soon
FACEBOOK is able to track its 1.3 billion users on desktop computers, mobile devices and other websites.
Now, advertisers will be able to do the same, using the social-networking service's data.
The technology, called "people-based marketing", is the main feature of Facebook's revamped Atlas ad server, which will be shown to marketers this week in New York. Advertisers will be able to measure how often individuals - whose identities are kept anonymous - see their ads, no matter what device they are using, and tailor promotions based on that information.
As people expand their Internet activity to include mobile phones and applications, advertisers are seeking better ways to target them and make sure that the right promotions are reaching the right people.
Atlas gets data from what people reveal on the social network, and from other sites where they log in using their Facebook credentials.
It is an improvement compared with the cookies that track activity within a single Web browser.
"There is just a huge shift to mobile and we're capitalising on it by offering personalised marketing," Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said. "Facebook has been built around people and focused on people since day one."
The Omnicom Group will be the first to use the product, through clients PepsiCo and Intel.
"You can get the right person at the right time on the right device," said Jonathan Nelson, chief executive of Omnicom Digital. "It's going to shift dollars from more broadcast-oriented stuff to more finely tuned messaging."
One benefit of Atlas: The ability to use Facebook data to target users of Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application it acquired in 2012.
"It opens up a whole new opportunity for publishers on Instagram," said David Jakubowski, Facebook's head of advertising technology. "If you're running ads on Instagram and use Atlas, you can see who saw them, and if they bought something."
While the new product may spark privacy concerns because it tracks users' activities, Ms Sandberg said marketers would not be given access to any data beyond what members have made available through their privacy preferences.
The company this year started prompting users to look at their settings and change them if they revealed more than they wanted to.
"This year, we did people-based privacy controls, and we're doing people-based marketing," Ms Sandberg said. "This doesn't tell marketers who you are, and when Atlas uses Facebook data, it honours the Facebook preferences of the user."