Until recently, Facebook has used their treasure trove of user data only to display ads within Facebook’s interface itself. It seems imminent, however, that the company will soon extend its reach by creating an external ad network. This speculation comes in light of recent changes to Facebook’s privacy and governance policies.

Yep, the data you’ve been idly supplying to Facebook by the truckload for years could soon help advertisers show you their messages all around the web as you browse.

As AllFacebook reports, there isn’t a clear vision or understanding yet of what this external network will look like. It could be used broadly or narrowly, depending on how willing Facebook is to have users be aware they’re being targeted directly. Stay tuned to your favorite blogs and news sources for updates.

On a broader note, there seems to be a great deal of concern these days about the idea of ad targeting – on Facebook, Google, or anywhere else users are aware that their behavior information is being utilized by advertisers.

However, since this new trend does not seem to be going away, why not take a moment to look at the silver lining? Ad targeting of this sort can have benefits for both advertisers and consumers alike.

For a small business owner, targeted ads based on preferences and browsing behavior are a great way to maximize your ad dollars. If you have a limited budget, you want to make sure you’re talking to the people who are most likely to buy every time you pay to put a message out there.

And although our privacy is important to us, as consumers we should take a pause to think about what kinds of ads we want to see. Let’s be honest: you are going to see ads wherever you go no matter what – is it more or less irritating to see products and services you might actually be interested in? Everyone will answer that question differently, but it’s worth asking of yourself.

Do you take advantage of Facebook’s current targeted ads or sponsored stories? Do you think you would utilize an external advertising network if one materialized in the coming months?

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