I refreshed my Facebook feed 50+ times to see the ads and here's what I learned

Facebook feed advertising

I'm appalled at the bad quality and approximate targeting of most of the ads I see popping up in my Facebook feed and in the side bar.

I'm online browsing tons of websites almost 12 hours per day so I must be firing retargeting pixels all over the place, which should give me a laser focused ad experience. Unfortunately it's not the case.  

Earlier today I decided to refresh my Facebook feed 50+ times to see which ads I would be served by the almighty algorithm. I made a screenshot of all of them and asked Facebook to hide what I had just seen, to make sure I was served brand new creatives after each F5 refresh. 

Here are a few takeaways 

There were very few major brands in the 100 creatives I captured: I recognised maybe 4 of 5 names out of 100 ads. 

I would say that most of the promotions I was served were from broad apparel marketplaces, all unknown to me, fledgling dropshipping websites, obscure SaaS operators and a bunch of training providers. I wouldn't have clicked on any of these ads. Not a single one.

I highly suspect (retargeting) "pixel sharing" between many of the operators who served me ads. I might have visited one website which then shared its pixel with tens of others. It's not against Facebook TOS (you can share your pixel with third-party advertisers) but it feels really weird and theoretically it would require a consent of the targeted user.

The funny thing is that I've NEVER bought any clothes or shoes online for myself (just once or twice in 10 years a gift for my wife, hence a few gorgeous ladies in the gallery) and I keep on receiving clothing-related advertising, which is just a waste of money for those advertisers. 

Besides a few small items on Amazon, I've never bought any piece of furniture via an e-commerce pure player. And I'm bombarded by this type of ads. Again, a total waste of money. 

There was even a promotion for "power chairs" (I don't have any mobility issue and I'm not really in the typical age group targeted by these ads...). 

To be honest, I would LOVE to be amazed by the relevance of the ads I encounter in my feed, to be inspired by some of them but it's never the case. (I won't even comment on the visuals and copy, not really enticing). Most of the time, I simply click / tap on "hide" and notify Facebook that the offers are irrelevant. I would happily pay £5 per month to consume an ad-free feed or have some sort of feature to choose my ads. 

What does it say about the advertising ecosystem? 

Beyond the poor targeting, it shows that Facebook's pool of advertisers mainly consists of smaller players including a lot of "PPC experts" who play the Shopify / clickbaity discount game at the lower end of the spectrum. 

A few major brands may have announced that they would suspend their Facebook ads but this won't have a major impact on the bottom line: the latest statistics show that Facebook has more than 8 million active advertisers, most of them looking like the ones listed herein below: a very long tail hoping to strike gold

Here are the ads I was served when I refreshed my Facebook feed 50+ times