Facebook enables advertisers to exclude users by ‘ethnic affinity’


Facebook’s features let advertisers limit which users see their material, ideally those who will be more interested in their products. But currently included in the “demographics” section of their ad-targeting tool is the ability to select which users see material based on their “ethnic affinity,” which the social titan began offering two years ago to aid its multicultural advertising. Facebook automatically lumps users into these categories based on their activity and interests — categories which advertisers can choose to exclude or specifically target.

Since the social network doesn’t ask users to racially identify themselves, Facebook collects activity data and then assigns each user an “ethnic affinity.” This is basically a preference for stories, events and organizations that coincide with those the social network believes are also held by a certain ethnic group.

At this year’s South by Southwest, a Facebook entertainment executive and Universal Pictures’ EVP of digital marketing held a panel explaining how the studio harnessed the social network’s “ethnic affinity” ad targeting tools to show different trailers of the movie Straight Outta Compton to different ethnic groups. The preview shown to Facebook-assigned “non-multicultural” (non-African-American, non-Hispanic) users showcased the film’s characters wielding guns, driving tricked-out cars and clashing with the police. The trailer shown to African-American-affinity users seemed to be from a wholly different film, a memoir about real performers’ historical impact.

Via Engadget