The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 20, 2013

Slate: Facebook is making you buy things

PALO ALTO, Calif. — This is a story about advertising on the Web. Specifically, it's about ads on Facebook, a hugely popular free service that's supported solely through advertising, yet is packed with users who are actively hostile to the idea of being marketed to on their cherished social network.

Considering all of this, the best place to start is with your primary concern about Web ads. This is what I hear from readers every time I write about the online ad economy, especially ads on Facebook: "I don't know how Facebook will ever make any money — I never click on Web ads!"

And that's not all. You've checked with your friends and relatives. No one you know has ever intentionally clicked on a Web ad. OK, once, years ago, a co-worker told you about a guy who knows a guy who tapped an ad on his phone. True story! But don't worry. People close to the situation dismissed it as a one-time deal. The guy wasn't trying to tap the ad; he just had really fat fingers. He felt really bad about it afterward, too.

So, the question persists: How does Facebook expect to become a huge business if most people you know never click on ads?

The answer is surprisingly obvious. It's a fact well-known to advertisers, though it's not always appreciated by people who use Facebook or even by folks in the Web ad business: Clicks don't matter. Whether you know it or not — even if you consider yourself skeptical of marketing — the ads you see on Facebook are working. Sponsored messages in your feed are changing your behavior — they're getting you and your friends to buy certain products instead of others, and that's happening despite the fact that you're not clicking, and even if you think you're ignoring the ads.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014

  • Shark sightings off Cape Cod a boon for tourism CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) — In "Jaws," the fictional mayor tried to protect the summer tourism season by keeping a lid on reports of the man-eater lurking offshore. As sightings of great white sharks mount off Cape Cod in real life, however, businesses in

    July 21, 2014

  • Dutch anger swells at treatment of Ukraine bodies THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — It is no longer only grief and mourning sweeping across the Netherlands in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It is now anger. The Dutch have widely condemned the way the bodies of loved ones h

    July 21, 2014

  • Diplomacy intensifies amid mounting Gaza toll GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state headed to Cairo on Monday for the highest-level attempt yet to end two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting that has killed at least 510 Palestinians and 20 Israelis and driven ten

    July 21, 2014

  • Actor James Garner dead at age 86 Veteran film and television actor James Garner died of natural causes Saturday at the age of 86.

    July 20, 2014