One advertising nation, united for all

Together, they know everything: Facebook and Google (and maybe Amazon too) join forces on targeted ads

By Andrew Leonard

Published October 21, 2013 6:10PM (EDT)

Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos           (Reuters/Carlo Allegri/Beck Diefenbach/AP/Matt Sayles/Salon)
Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos (Reuters/Carlo Allegri/Beck Diefenbach/AP/Matt Sayles/Salon)

You can click, but you can't hide. Not when the Web's two biggest conduits for online advertising join forces. On Friday, the DoubleClick Advertiser Blog revealed that Google had finally gained access to Facebook's FBX Real-Time Bidding Exchange. The upshot: Google's advertising clients can now buy inventory on Facebook.

And these aren't just any ads. These are fancy-pants "retargeted ads." As TechCrunch's Josh Constine explains, back in the summer of 2012, Facebook launched FBX to facilitate "cookie-based retargeted ads" on Facebook.

When someone visits an advertiser’s website, say to buy a flight to Hawaii, a cookie is dropped onto the user’s computer. The site can then pass this cookie to a demand side platform (DSP) ad tech service that uses it to target that same user with an ad on Facebook. So if the person didn’t buy the flight, the travel site can show them ads hawking that exact same flight at a discount in hopes of getting them to pull the trigger.

So at a single stroke every advertiser that uses Google's Doubleclick advertising platform now has the ability to retarget ads at Facebook users. The implications are overwhelming: Our behavior on Google's services is now getting funneled into our Facebook experience. The surveillance state just got significantly more comprehensive.

And then on Monday, a rumor started to percolate that Amazon, too, might join the Facebook party. The biggest online retailer and the biggest search engine and the biggest social media network all coming together into one all-seeing eye. Seems not too far off from the plot of a recent dystopian novel ...

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Advertising Amazon Doubleclick Facebook Fbx Google Online Advertising Privacy Retargeted Ads Surveillance