Facebook already collects two kinds of data about its user base: demographic and behavioral. Now the social network is reportedly testing a new technology that tracks and collects data about members’ cursor movements.
Expanding the scope of the data that the company collects, the new technology could help create better ads and new features. Facebook already tracks Likes, comments, and clicks; cursor tracking would allow it to focus on more minute interactions with content.
For example, Facebook can learn how long someone’s cursor hovers over an ad before clicking it, or whether News Feed is visible at a given moment on the screen of his or her mobile device. This information could not only lead to improved ads, but it could also help the service create more engaging layouts.
Facebook certainly isn’t the first company to consider monitoring this activity. Shutterstock — which recently partnered with the social network to offer marketers access to its image library — records literally everything visitors do on the site in order to optimize user experience.
Here’s what the company had to say about the experiment: “Like most websites, we run numerous tests at any given time to ensure that we’re creating the best experience possible for people on Facebook. These experiments look at aggregate trends of how people interact with the site to inform future product decisions. We do not share this information with anyone outside of Facebook and we are not using this information to target ads.”
Currently, cursor tracking is being tested with a small group of people. Facebook will reportedly decide “within months” whether or not it will continue collecting this data. Aside from making improvements to existing ad units and layouts, it’s difficult to say what type of impact this could have on marketers at this time.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.