's Creepy, But Effective, Facebook Ads


Is a picture worth a thousand clicks? You’ve heard of contextual ads triggered by keywords on a Web page. Now, get ready for contextual ads triggered by images on the page. Visual-shopping search engine is running ads on Facebook that appear to match objects in profile photos.

Notice the ad by in the lower left for aviator sunglasses in the screen shot shown here, sent to us by TechCrunch reader Luke Bearden? Yup, those look eerily similar to the aviator sunglasses Bearden is wearing in his Facebook photo. Well, at least we know that’s technology works. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. (Can someone from Like/Riya let us know which one it is in comments?).

But if this indeed is Like’s image-matching engine at work, is it effective targeting? Bearden thought the ad was “creepy.” And, um, he obviously already owns a pair of aviator sunglasses.

He also obviously likes them enough to feature himself wearing a pair on his Facebook page. And maybe he lost those beloved glasses or they broke since the photo was taken. So I’d say the ad is both effective and creepy.

Would you click on it?

Update 6/2/08: Riya/Like founder Munjal Shah got back to us to let us know that, while his company’s technology could do this, in this case it was indeed a coincidence. He writes in an e-mail:

1) This ad is not contextually driven – it was just luck that the sunglasses matched – Facebook’s ad API doesn’t let you access the photo on the page for doing this kind of visual targeting.
2) We do have this visual targeting technology and use it on the Rockyou site (called Likesense), but it is not on Facebook at this time.
3) Other than that I liked the article – it is indicative of the direction we are heading… ;-)

(Screen shot courtesy of Luke Bearden).