Firstly before we create any ads, lets understand how Facebook collects data 

So there are 1.49 billion daily active Facebook users and 1 billion Instagram users every month. Facebook will know pretty much everything about you. Does that scare you? Or fill you full of opportunities for your business? 

The data collected is pretty vast. They collect in 4 main ways:

1. Your activity on Facebook and the other platforms it owns

Any actions you take on all the Facebook products (Facebook, Instagram & Messenger) are used to create a profile on you with different data points. It collates all of that information and categorised into interests. 

You can see a summary on ‘your interests’ by going to Settings > Ads > ‘Your Interests’

Is there anything that surprises you? Do you think that Facebook has got it right?

You can’t stop Facebook collecting data as you have agreed to their terms and conditions by being on their platform but you can remove interests and curate your ads experience if you wish. 

2. Actions taken by businesses with your data

When you share your data with another company through an email sign up, or making a purchase at a retail store, they can then use your data to match it with your Facebook profile to target you with Ads.

Any business doing this should be clear in their privacy policy so they are GDPR compliant. The data is hashed which means when a business uploads your data it is only used within their Ads campaigns and should not be used anywhere else. 

3. Your activity on other web pages and apps

If a website or app has the ‘Pixel’ set up and assume most of the websites you visit do, then they are passing back information based on your behaviour and what you have looked at. For example if you have added an item to the shopping basket then abandoned the cart, this can trigger an ‘event’. That business can then identify you on Facebook and serve an advert, perhaps with an offer to try and complete the sale you never purchased. 

4. Your location

Facebook collects location data through its apps by asking permission to know your location when logged in. This data is then used for location specific ads. For example if you are in the vicinity of a shop, an advert can be served if you are logged onto Facebook. 


What is The Pixel?

The Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that can be placed on your website to provide a link to Facebook. This means you can use visitor data from your website to target the facebook user profile with Adverts. It allows you to send ads to people who have visited your website or certain ‘events’ such as added to basket or made a purchase. You can tailor your adverts to target warm leads rather than people who have never interacted with your brand. 


GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

GDPR states that all companies or organisations which use customers’ personal information must explain how they process this data.

If collecting and storing customers data then you must state this on a privacy policy on your website. You may not intend to use it but you need to be transparent about the fact you have access to someone’s email address.

If you intend to use your customers data for ads you must clearly state your intent in your Privacy Policy and allow customers to understand how their data is going to be used. If you are using the Facebook Pixel or Google Analytics for example, you must be transparent with your website visitors. You must also have a ‘cookie’ pop up and information for visitors on how to clear the data stored. 


How to see why you are being shown an ad on Facebook

In 2019, increased its transparency on the platform by showing you why you are being shown Adverts (Following dramas with the 2016 presidential election and other data enquiries)

For every business you can view all their Ads in a Library (Great for snooping on your competition and getting ideas!) and as a consumer, if you see an Ad you are given some information why you are being targeted.

To see any brands Ads, go on their page and click on ‘Page Transparency’


To see why you are seeing an ad in your feed, click on the 3 little dots and then ‘Why am I seeing this ad?


It will give you some information about why you are in their audience selection eg demographics, visited their website, liked their page etc..




  • Facebook ads are marketer’s dream. It collects data on your audience, allows you target specific segments including your own customers, find people similar to your customers and track if they have done something on your website so you analyse the return on your investment. 
  • If you use your customers data in ads (an email list or Pixel) then you need to state this in your privacy policy.
  • Don’t be scared by the word ‘pixel’ It can be added easily into your website by you if you use a WordPress site or a website builder such as or Squarespace. If you are unsure a good web developer will sort out very quickly and won’t cost you much at all. If someone is building a website for you mention it. Even if you are not running ads now, you may want to in the future and it starts collecting that data on your website visitors to be used in the future

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