Facebook has confirmed it will introduce a new service that allows marketers to target ads to customers based on e-mail addresses, phone numbers and user IDs. The move would let businesses reach customers on Facebook they've already collected contact information on elsewhere but who may not have signed up as fans on the social network.
The new targeting capability, first reported by Inside Facebook, is set to roll out next week following a beta testing period in which a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch one participating financial advertiser saw its fan base double in two weeks.
Facebook aims to insure user privacy by “hashing” personal data, so customer information can be matched without Facebook being able to access data uploaded by marketers, while marketers won't able access Facebook user data. But given the company's suspect history of protecting users' privacy, leading to its recent privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, this latest targeting feature is likely to raise more questions about its commitment keep user data private.
Facebook is making the contact information-based targeting available to advertisers that work directly with the social network.