I’ve noticed a lot of people whining on Facebook:
“Why are there so many ads in my News Feed? Why are the same ads stalking me all over the Internet? How do I turn them off?”
You can’t turn off ads altogether on Facebook – after all, Facebook stays in business and gives you unfettered access to your friends, Groups, Events, apps, and Pages because of advertising.
But you can control, to some degree, the types of ads that appear in your News Feed. That’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do in this tutorial.
Ironically, I’m taking an excellent course from Rick Mulready about Facebook advertising for local businesses, so I can train my brick-and-mortar clients how to set up, run, and manage Facebook ad campaigns. So, I’m an advocate of using Facebook ads to expand the reach of your business.
As a consumer, I also understand how irritating it is to see a steady stream of ads for things I don’t care about in my Facebook News Feed.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to customize your Facebook settings so you’ll see ads for stuff you’re interested in.
These instructions are for the desktop version of Facebook (I include instructions for smartphone and tablet where available).
Log in to your Facebook account and go to your Personal Profile.
Click on the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and select Settings.
From the left-hand sidebar, select Ads.
You’ll see a page that looks like this:
Section 1: Ads based on my use of websites and apps
This is where you turn ads off or on based on your interests. This does NOT mean you can prevent ads from displaying in your News Feed altogether. If you turn this feature off, you’ll still see the same number of ads as before; those ads will be more random in nature and will not specifically be targeted to your interests.
I don’t mind seeing ads in my News Feed, as long as I can have some degree of control over the types of ads I see. So I left this default setting at “Yes.”
Section 2: Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies
This section relates to “re-targeting.” Let’s say you click on an ad for running shoes on a website outside of Facebook. You don’t buy the running shoes, but you suddenly start seeing ads for those same running shoes in your Facebook News Feed.
I left this setting at “Yes,” as well. I figure that if Facebook is going to show me ads regardless of whether or not I want to see them, I may as well have them show me ads I’m likely to be interested in.
How to edit this setting on your smartphone or tablet
On your Android (versions 2.2 and up) and Google Play Services (versions 4.0 and up):
- Go to Google Settings
- Tap Ads
- Tap Opt out of interest-based ads and tap OK
On your iPhone or iPad
- Go to Settings
- Tap Privacy
- Tap Advertising and turn on Limit Ad Tracking
Section 3: Ads with my social actions
This setting is based on whether you’ve liked, commented on, or shared content from a Page that runs an ad, used an app, or joined an event. The ad that the Page or app runs will show your profile name and link to your Facebook friends.
Here’s a visual example of how the “social actions” ad would look:
I rarely use my Facebook Personal Profile (I do 99.9% of my Facebooking via my Blogging Bistro Page). And I’m a private person; I don’t feel the need to announce to my Facebook friends that I’ve liked a certain Page or a certain app, or have commented on a particular Page’s post.
I changed this setting to “No One.”
Section 4: Ads based on my preferences
Here’s where things get interesting, because you can customize your preferences so Facebook shows you ads for things you are truly interested in.
Click the blue button that says, “Visit Ad Preferences.”
- Business and Industry
- News and entertainment
- Travel, places, and events
- Shopping and Fashion
- Lifestyle and Culture
- Hobbies and Activities
- Food and Drink
- Sports and Outdoors
- Fitness and Wellness
- Family and Relationships
I’ve been a Facebook user for many years and I often research content for the clients whose Pages I manage from within my own account, so I had 216 “Interests.”
I viewed my preferences category by category. Be sure to click the “See More” link at the bottom of each category list, which will show you all the preferences, instead of just the first few rows. You may have to click “See More” several times to view your entire list.
When you open a category and hover over an interest, a pop-up shows you why that preference is included on the list.
For example, “Instagram” is listed as a preference on my list. When I hover over the icon, a popup says:
“You have this preference because you installed the app Instagram.”
There were some weird and unexpected interests. Apparently, I am interested in “Terrestrial Television,” even though I have no idea what that means! At some time during my tenure on Facebook, I clicked on an ad related to “Terrestrial Television.”
Since that particular topic is of no interest to me, I clicked the x to remove the interest from my interest list.
Below your Interests list, you can review a list of two types of advertisers:
- Advertisers whose ads you may see because you’re on their email list, which they uploaded to Facebook.
- Advertisers who have you on their “Custom Audience” ads targeting list. This means that you’ve visited their website or an app on which they have installed Facebook’s ad re-targeting pixel.
Go through the same process for Advertisers as you did for Interests – click the x to hide ads from an advertiser.
See relevant (not random) ads in your Facebook News Feed. This tutorial show you how.Click to tweet
Adding New Preferences
I reduced my Interests and Advertisers from 216 to 91 during my first sweep. I’ll monitor the types of ads that show up in my News Feed for the next few weeks, and then do a second sweep.
Of course, you can always add new preferences, as well. In the top right-hand corner of the “Ad Preferences” page, find the heading that says, “Your info” and click the big blue “Edit Profile” button. You can then edit every section of your Facebook Profile.
While you’re cleaning up your Facebook profile, why not spruce up your Facebook bio, too? Click here to get a free PDF printable of my article, “5 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Bio in 5 Minutes.”
Click the image to display full-size, and then save to Pinterest.
Take a look at your Ad Preferences. In the Comments, share the weirdest or most unexpected preference that’s on your list.
Special thanks to Jon Loomer, whose article, “10 Recent Changes Impacting Facebook Advertisers,” inspired this tutorial.