When you set up an ad on Facebook, you’re asked to choose your goal. That ad is then designed to help you be successful, whether that means driving sales on your website, getting people to install your app, or building your brand through Page engagement. But just as you’re given the option of creating a campaign around a specific objective, consumers who use the social network want ads to better reflect their interests as well.

Last week, Facebook introduced ad preferences, a new tool that helps people learn about and control the ads they see on the platform. The company already detailed how this addition will benefit consumers in its Newsroom post, so we’re going to explain how enhancements to interest-based advertising will better serve businesses.

Enhancements and Preferences

Currently, you learn about people’s interests primarily based on their Facebook activity — such as the Pages they Like. But soon, advertisers in the U.S. will also be able to learn from people’s interests based on websites they visit and the apps they use. When your ads have great content and are well targeted, they get more Likes, comments, and shares which in turn makes them more powerful.

Enhancing interest-based advertising with information from websites and apps people use will improve performance by ensuring your ads are delivered to the most relevant audience — the people who are the most interested in your products, and those who are most likely to respond. These signals will improve Facebook’s existing ad capabilities and be built into its existing interfaces.

Let’s say that a consumer is thinking about buying a TV and starts researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. Facebook might show that person ads for deals on a TV to help him or her get the best price. And because it’s now fair to assume that person is interested in electronics, Facebook might display ads for other electronics in the future.

The ad preferences tool will be accessible from every ad on Facebook, and explains to people why they’re seeing a specific ad. Additionally, it lets people control which interests influence the ads they see. This allows consumers to actively tell advertisers the things they are and aren’t interested in, which means your audiences will become “better-qualified” over time.

For example, if that same consumer we mentioned above is no longer interested in electronics, he or she can remove it from his or her ad interests. This particular consumer will no longer be shown ads based on that preference. But while you won’t be able to target them on that preference, you can still reach them if you target based on other preferences they have.

Why is this important? Because it’s helping to ensure that consumers are being shown ads that will inspire action, not negative sentiment or lack of interest. The more relevant the ad, the more likely that person is to interact with it and help you achieve your overall goal. According to Facebook, ad preferences will start rolling out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand globally in the coming months.

Success Stories

We don’t recommend putting any of your Facebook campaigns on hold while you wait for interest feedback from consumers. Here are a couple examples of businesses that leveraged Facebook Ads into successful campaigns to inspire your upcoming ads.

First up is Sixty and Me, an online community for women 60 and older. Through Facebook’s demographic targeting, the company’s founder Margaret Manning was able to attract an extremely engaged community. During the campaign, Manning found that 37 percent of her website’s traffic came from the social network, and the Sixty and Me Facebook Page averaged 70,000 monthly views.

Mondelez’s Nilla Wafers used Facebook Ads to drive in-store purchases of its cookies by reaching the right people with the right message. The three-month campaign, which targeted moms and women 35-54 in select states resulted in a 13 percent increase in sales for the month of July 2013 alone. Additionally, 98 percent of people exposed weren’t fans of Nilla Wafers, yet they generated 100 percent of the sales lift.

These are only two of literally dozens of business success stories. You can read more case studies on the Facebook for Business website, where you can filter results based on business size, goal, industry, region, and product used. Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, knowing who makes up your audience is key. Ad campaigns won’t be successful if you just wing it.

Learn about Sprout Social’s Facebook management and Facebook analytics features here.

[Image credit: Craig Maccubbin]