Why the strength of your cell signal will affect the types of Facebook ads you receive


Auto-play video ads can be annoying, but what’s more maddening is when the ad doesn’t even load properly. On mobile devices, that’s often because you’ve got a weak cellular connection, which is why Facebook is starting to allow advertisers to target ads based on the strength of someone’s cell phone signal, according to a new article in Advertising Age.

The program will give advertisers a new tool to help target and run video ads, which are among Facebook’s most expensive ad products and have been an area of focus of the company in the past year. They’re also data-hungry, so someone on a 3G connection might see stuttering or laggy video. He or she will move on, and that becomes a wasted impression.

So Facebook’s new targeting option will give advertisers the option to, say, serve a text-based ad to someone in a remote area with weak reception while also displaying a lush, high-bandwidth ad to someone in a major city with strong LTE service. The option, which will work across Facebook’s mobile ad network and third-party apps,  is expected to help out Facebook’s efforts in developing countries that might not have the advanced cell networks found in North America and Europe.

It will also help advertisers here, because there’s still a lot of variation in the quality of cellular connections in the United States. But despite the fact that 4G LTE is a lot more widespread in the United States, it’s still not guaranteed that the ad will be welcome even when it runs smoothly. Most consumers in the United States have data caps, and would rather see their precious bandwidth go to content of their own choosing, not ads.

Perhaps it would be more advantageous for Facebook users if it could target those bandwidth-heavy video ads to users on Wi-Fi — but then again, the average user isn’t Facebook’s customer; advertisers are.

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