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Facebook Launching Ads Based on Your Browsing History

As part of its ongoing effort to sharpen its advertising acumen, Facebook will soon unveil a new advertising system that expands behavioral targeting well beyond the borders of its own social networking site. The feature, which is expected to be revealed at this week's F8 developer conference, reportedly gathers information from a user's Web history and uses it to place targeted ads within Facebook. The catalyst behind the system, according to CBSNews, is the new Facebook 'like' button, which, like Digg or Twitter buttons, will soon be embedded across various sites. Upon clicking the button, a user notifies Facebook of a page that he or she likes. Facebook, in turn, will duly note the preference and feed it into an algorithm to churn out a series of targeted ads.

As with any behavioral targeting ad campaign, Facebook's new system is sure to raise a few eyebrows, especially among online privacy advocates. But, as Alex Wilhelm points out on TheNextWeb, the entire framework is still dependent on user choice. The only way Facebook can gather information, after all, is if the user chooses to click the embedded button on a third-party site. If, on the other hand, Facebook monitored our behavior without telling us, lawsuits would surely unfurl.

As it stands, then, this new campaign doesn't really seem that intrusive, or even annoying. If you really, really like a product or a company enough to tell Facebook about it, you can. Otherwise, expect a steady diet of the same ads that are drawn up according to the information listed in your profile. At the end of the day, Facebook is simply trying to legitimize its ad platform, in the hopes of attracting enough investor confidence to go public. The social networking site has rightfully chosen a path that can widen its reach across the Internet, without compromising or subverting user autonomy.

Behavioral targeting is, by definition, unsettling; no one really likes to think about the fact that other people are watching what we do online. Assuming, however, that there aren't any hidden strings attached, it's hard to find fault with Facebook's approach to an inherently uncomfortable marketing technique. [From: CBSNews and TheNextWeb]

Tags: advertising, behavioral targeting, BehavioralTargeting, business, Digg, f8 conference, F8Conference, facebook, social networking, SocialNetworking, targeted advertising, TargetedAdvertising, top, twitter, web