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Facebook to do targeted advertising by user email, phone number

NBC News file

Facebook plans to let advertisers increase their targeted ads to users. Starting next week, the social network will give its advertisers the option of targeting users by email address, phone number or user ID — as long as that information has already been gathered by the advertiser. 

The social network, facing a huge drop in value since May, has been scrambling to come up ways to increase its revenue. 

Twitter, too, will start allowing advertisers to directly target users based on the interests they reveal in their tweets, the company said Thursday.

A Facebook spokeswoman told NBC News that the new effort "is really about delivering relevant ads to people on Facebook" who may have already connected with advertisers before, via email or by giving them their phone number, but not necessarily on Facebook.

"We think this is an effective new tool for advertisers to reach their customers who they've already had connections with; it allows advertisers to build more relevant ads."

Inside Facebook reported that "sources familiar with Facebook’s ad plans previously told us that the company was working with some premium advertisers to target audiences by email address, though we had not heard about the UID (user ID) and phone number options."

Didn't know you have a User ID? Every Facebook user does, says Facebook on its help page (Just type in "user ID"):

On Facebook, your name, profile picture, gender, username, user ID (account number) and networks are visible to everyone (learn why). Also, by default, apps have access to your friends list and any information you choose to share with everyone.

The Facebook spokeswoman said the site is not giving any information to advertisers.

"There is no transfer of personally identifiable information," she said.

Targeted advertising, Inside Facebook notes, will offer "powerful new opportunities for businesses to reach their existing customers and leads, who may be increasingly difficult to reach through traditional email and telemarketing campaigns."

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