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Marketing Data RoundUp: Facebook ads could mistakenly 'out' a gay user

AllFacebook takes a look at research investigating how advertisers target users on Facebook based on their sexual orientation - and the possibility that their actions might inadvertently reveal that personal information. A study by Microsoft and Germany's Max Planck Institute looked at results stemming from six fake profiles that were created: two straight men, two straight women, a gay man and a lesbian. Otherwise their data was the same - they were portrayed as 25 and living in Washington, DC. Ads shown on the lesbian profile only differed slightly from the straight women - but the ads displayed on the gay man’s profile differed substantially from those on the straight men's profiles. "This occurred not just with specifically gay content, such as an ad for a gay bar, but also with ads where sexuality was not part of the content," AllFacebook said.

Furthermore, half of ads targeted to gay men didn't mention the word "gay" in the text, so a user would have no idea that he had been targeted on the basis of sexuality, it continued. "Yet by clicking it he would reveal to the advertiser both his sexual-preference and some kind of" personal identification, such as IP address, or email address if he signs up on the advertiser’s site.

Small Businesses Continue to Spend on Search

Small businesses continue to spend more on search advertising than they did last year, but the triple-digit growth numbers from previous quarters have leveled off, according to the latest quarterly report from WebVisible. Across a sample size of more than 12,000 small business advertisers, the average advertiser spent $2,327 on paid search advertising in Q3 2010, an increase of 43% over Q3 2009. This represents a slower growth rate than in previous quarters, when year-over-year spending was up 159% in Q2 2010, 91% in Q1 2010, and 111% in Q4 2009.

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