A week or so ago, Facebook rolled out a massive user profile interface face-lift. With it came brand spakin’ new profile info fields members were encouraged to complete. The “Interests” umbrella burst open. Suddenly, Zuck & Co. wanted to learn about the “People Who Inspire You,” the “Sports You Play,” your “Favorite Teams,” and “Favorite Athletes.” While aesthetic changes in Facebook profiles may not seem relevant to marketers, the new profile elements will effect how some users self-identify and express their predilections… and thus, effecting targeting metrics. Read on to find out how.

Think back to when you created your own FB profile. As a new user, you were asked to type in interests and activities… well, gee, that’s pretty vague. You might have thought to enter “watching football” as an interest, but that’s equally vague. Facebook, in fact, did marketers a great service by rolling out the new profiles with different “interest” categories, ones that directly prompted users what specific athletes they adore, what specific teams they root for. The redesign touched more than just “Interests.” Let’s take a look at the other profile elements that got a UI makeover.

The Basics
“Relationships” have evolved to “Featured People” and, as previously referenced, expanded “Likes and Interests” into separate categories: Philosophy, Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Activities and Interests.

Basic information now asks users what languages they speak:

What opportunities lie here for marketers? Hmm. How about selling study abroad trips to Austria to kids 15-18 who live in the U.S. and speak German?

With the update to profiles, favorite quotations, political and religious views are now a part of “Philosophy.”

Note that not many people will straight-up offer their religious or political views on Facebook, but consider the psycho-graphics behind political parties and you’ve got some deep segments to dive into. Within the Philosophy section lives “People Who Inspire You,” an interest-new-kid-on-the-block. Perhaps Zuckerberg was looking for some ego stroke from hacker-geek-wannabe-millionaires here, but this section will most likely include people along the lines of “Mom” or maybe “Martin Luther King Jr.”

Media & Other Distractions
What was once simply “Likes and Interests,” which encompassed Activities, Interests, Music, Books, Movies and Television…

…now is split up between two different categories: “Arts and Entertainment” and “Activities and Interests.” The newest data field in “Arts and Entertainment” asks for users’ favorite games. The category “games” includes both traditional (board and card games… and Pogs!) as well as video games. Even friggin’ Farmville.

It’s logical to assume folks heavy into World of “War-Crack” or D&D would have listed such pasttimes under “Interests” on their Facebook Profile of yesteryear. Having this space dedicated to games opens up the targeting to people who may not have considered to list games as an interest before.

Sports… RAWR! (How was this not here before?!)
Yes, the Sports category not only asks what sports you play, but with whom (of course, to ensnare those lucky friends with yet another label from your profile) and a description.

Facebook also now explicitly asks for users’ favorite sports teams…

… as well as favorite athletes:

The thing to consider here, marketers, is if you are looking for everyone interested in hockey, be sure to include hockey teams and players.

Reach Out & Touch Someone
Contact Information has gotten even more intimate (read: creepy?). The new profiles ask for:

  • Residence
  • Room
  • School Mailbox

Holy freakin’ cow, man! Markets now potentially have inventory for Facebook users who go to the University of Madison, WI and live in Elizabeth Waters Hall.

Nosh On This
One of the biggest takeaways is this: with new profile elements comes new targeting in bigger numbers. As users are prompted to list what they like in categories, the targeting field expands tremendously. Next time you belly up to the Facebook Ad UI to create segments, ask yourself what your target demographics would enter in their profile for the following (new elements in bold):

  • Languages they speak
  • Relationship status
  • Where they work
  • What college(s) they went to
  • What religion they subscribe to
  • Their political views
  • Who Inspires them
  • What music they like
  • Their favorite books
  • Favorite movies
  • Favorite television shows
  • What games they play
  • What sports they participate in
  • Their favorite sports teams
  • Their favorite athletes
  • What they’re interested in
  • What activities they like to do
  • Neighborhoods
  • College residence halls

This new wealth of criteria and content will no doubt sweeten the inventory pot when it comes to your segments, and by extension, your ad campaigns’, estimated reach.

  • @mediasres

    Great post. New to your blog and very much looking forward to reading you. The one thing I would want to add is something to the idea that the aesthetic changes may not be relevant marketers:

    “While aesthetic changes in Facebook profiles may not seem relevant to marketers, the new profile elements will effect how some users self-identify and express their predilections… and thus, effecting targeting metrics.”

    The aesthetic changes indeed by my eye are entirely marketer directed, in that the provide a visual bridge from the operative left column, to the right side advertisement column.

    When they came out I did a very quick mock up of how these changes created a visual chain of images, joining the left to the right side through the filmstrip up top. Its actually a masterstroke of design that marketers should be interested. I would expect a higher conversion rate for Facebook ads, and would love to see an eye-tracking study of how the changes are viewed:

    • Merry Morud

      @mediasres thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree, the new profile layout does draw the eye a bit more and will hopefully lead to more clicks and eventually conversions. Thank you for pointing it out as it *IS* relevant to marketers.

      The post was meant for marketers who use Facebook Ads to consider the possibilities of new targeting inventory through Facebook’s new prompted “interested, etc” fields and not on the aesthetic of the new profiles.

      This WebTrends post does the impact of Facebook’s profile change more justice: Facebook Ads 66% More Ad Space & What It Means for Marketers

      Thanks for stopping by, @mediasres & hope to see you again.

  • @mediasres


    Thanks for your welcome. I should have qualified my comment as only parenthetical and hopefully complimentary to what you were saying. In a sense the conversion increase that may come out of Facebook ads, first is grounded itself in exactly the targeting capabilities you so beautifully illustrate, only then coupled with the CTRs of a new design. But I see the two intertwined, as a single move by Facebook – deeper penetration into the user, both informationally and aesthetically. For some reason when I first saw the new design I was inordinately shocked by how ad friendly it was, as if it may even have been the overriding reason for the change – how the ad column suddenly was aesthetically, graphically fused to the content of the page. Much as how Google aesthetically blurs the lines between its text AdWords ads, and the (largely) text organic results (and now the more enhanced text options on the left side), Facebook seems to do the same thing with the photographic emphasis in content. By such reasoning I wonder if it really is a photo ad medium more than a text ad medium, made for expressly that. This is one future where Facebook may have Google beat, Facebook has become about faces.

    What is your feeling if you don’t mind me asking? Do you expect Facebook to ever overtake Google in terms of advertising effectiveness or dollars? Something of what you are saying is that Facebook is quickly building an architecture of interests meant to rival the intents expressed lexically in a search (and a search history). It strikes me that they have a hurdle of trust to overcome there, the barrier between the private and the public that is much more easily bridged by searches for information, rather than passive advertising.

  • David

    Upside is that parents can now reliably target with FB ads anyone living in those Uni halls what will happen if they end of trying to date their kids…

    I think better targeting is great as you no longer have to assume but the next progression is being able to add interests/likes as negatives.

    So I want to target anyone who likes Chicago Blackhawks but due to conflict of interest for advertiser not those who like LA Lakers. There needs to be also better reporting within the FB platform.

  • Merry

    @mediasres Glad to continue the conversation 🙂

    Facebook definitely is more of a photo medium (over text). Images are required for their ads and often are the most important part of an ad to get users’ attention.

    IMHO Facebook will not over take Google’s Search Ads… it’s a different animal.

    Advertisers love the (Facebook) targeting tool even with the abysmal CTR, however as bids creep up I believe it will push a lot of advertisers out of the game (& managing the account will just not be worth it for them, as it can be quite time consuming.)

  • Merry

    @ David

    Not quite sure what sort of parents would use Facebook ads to target University Halls to find dates… but I’m glad mine would not be in that category.

    Your idea of negative interests intrigues me! I like it. I’d also like to see two “Like” buckets that operate with the “and” operator. Marketers could target people who like cheese AND Wine (not one or the other as is the case currently)

    *fingers crossed* for better reporting too!

  • @mediasres

    @merry completely agree about the CPC. I just had to mention to a company that had a Facebook ad they were happy with that the CPC (for their business) simply cannot be = to that of AdWords. They were talking about about the targeted impressions and what not, but the Facebook ad was crazy expensive in comparison. It’s a different tool for different purposes. There is not one watering hole where every species comes to drink. Instead it’s that this eco-system supports these kinds of users and purposes, and this one another.

    What will be interesting once the social media interconnections start to get filled out, once Facebook account page log-ins become more prominent, these FB ads might become robust in their targeting.

  • Merry

    @mediasres *crosses fingers* here’s hoping! Facebook COULD build us even better targeting tools, that’s for sure 🙂 but who knows if they’ll give that power to advertisers… and how much it will cost….

    Thanks for the conversation!