Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Facebook Advertising Privacy Social Networks Stats The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Why Gay Men Are Worth So Much To Facebook 270

Posted by timothy
from the commerce-mutes-prejudice dept.
Barence writes "PC Pro has a feature on how social networks sold your privacy, which includes some interesting comparisons on the value of different demographics to Facebook. For example, an advert that targets everyone within a 10-mile radius of a medium-sized British town (Dorking) is valued at 28p per click by Facebook's advertising tool. However, targeting single gay men in the area with a preference for nightclubbing raises the price to 71p per click — 2.5x the price of targeting the general public. Such precise targeting also raises other issues. Whittling down ads to target such precise demographics can result in ads targeting as few as 20 people, making it theoretically possible to identify those targeted. 'I think the worst scenario might be where someone who hates gays uses Facebook's targeting to identify gay users and later attack them,' says Paul Francis, scientific director of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Gay Men Are Worth So Much To Facebook

Comments Filter:
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39483747) Homepage

    Paul Francis, uh, "scientific" director of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, has figured out that if I choose to declare that I'm gay on my public Failbook profile, then people can use that information to determine my sexuality?

    Whoa, that's some cutting edge research there. Thanks for looking out for me, Paul.

      1. Not everyone makes their profile public. If, however, an advertisement were to be targetted only at those men who declared themselves to be gay on Facebook, and they happened to click on that ad (perhaps something seemingly innocent), then you could basically get them to identify themselves.
      2. You can determine, with high probability, a person's sexual orientation based on other information in their Facebook profile; a person who might not want to "come out" could be identified this way. The attack describe
      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        1. Not everyone makes their profile public. If, however, an advertisement were to be targetted only at those men who declared themselves to be gay on Facebook, and they happened to click on that ad (perhaps something seemingly innocent), then you could basically get them to identify themselves.
        2. You can determine, with high probability, a person's sexual orientation based on other information in their Facebook profile; a person who might not want to "come out" could be identified this way. The attack described above could thus be used to "out" someone.

        I see your point, but I'd reply that if you don't want to "come out", you shouldn't declare yourself gay anywhere and most certainly not on facebook of all places.

        • I believe there was a story within the past year where a team of researchers found that they could determine with ~85% (if I recall) accuracy the sexual orientation of a facebook member simply by analyzing who they are friends with.

          You don't have to declare yourself to come out -- someone else can do it for you. People who don't want to announce their sexuality (for whatever reason) are exposed every day -- not in the way stated above, maybe, but it certainly happens.
          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

            I believe there was a story within the past year where a team of researchers found that they could determine with ~85% (if I recall) accuracy the sexual orientation of a facebook member simply by analyzing who they are friends with.

            You don't have to declare yourself to come out -- someone else can do it for you. People who don't want to announce their sexuality (for whatever reason) are exposed every day -- not in the way stated above, maybe, but it certainly happens.

            Depending on whose numbers you use the gay population is as low as 3% to as much as 10%. So, I would think, in a random sample, that you could hit 85% accuracy without analyzing anything about the facebook user just by saying heterosexual.

        • This is why we read things. Point one was about people who are "out" on Facebook, who might become targets of strangers who cannot see their Facebook profiles. Point two was about epople are not "out," who could be identified as gay through inferences derived through their various postings and messages (if I remember correctly, it was shown that with high propbability, just a person's friends list is enough to identify their sexual orientation); such a person might again be identified by strangers using t
        • I see your point, but I'd reply that if you don't want to "come out", you shouldn't declare yourself gay anywhere and most certainly not on facebook of all places.

          Some people may be "out" to friends and family, but not to coworkers. Facebook may interfere sexual orientation from friends and from participation in certain events, even if you left the "prefers" choice blank in your profile. And theoretically they could interfere it from the photos at which you look the longest/most often, even if you're still completely closeted...

        • But it's not a matter of "declaring yourself" gay - it's a matter of facebook targeting being able to infer your orientation based on the information you provide (friends, locations, likes, un-friendings, etc) - information that by itself doesn't mean anything, and that many people might not consider revealing when considered individually.

          That said, the article didn't focus on gay men - it was basically a paragraph and a couple of scattered references. The actual point is that facebook can provide remarkabl

    • by bjourne (1034822) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:03AM (#39484047) Homepage Journal
      Not only that, they can also figure out the probability that you are gay based on the number of gay people you have friended on Facebook. Or if you are tagged in photos that also features known gay males. Soon enough you'll see online ads for nail polish and ymca records..
      • If you have an Amazon account that you normally buy typical guy stuff with, buy women's clothes and see what happens, ideally something like a sexy women's halloween costume.

        To make it stop, go into your recommendations section and tag the item as a gift.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      I agree that the idea is kind of silly, mostly because it's just too much damn work to attack a gay person when there are significantly easier avenues available, but it's not as simple as you make it out to be.

      If your profile is wide open to the world, then yeah, it's precisely that silly. If it's restricted to friends and family, it's still available to targeted advertising and that advertising can "leak" data. Or at least that's his premise.

      Public safety issue? Not really. If you want to attack so

      • Paying money to target advertising to leak private data so you can track them down to attack is, well, an awful lot of effort.

        Could be interesting for politicians who want to "expose" politicians from opposing parties. Given that 10% of the population would be vulnerable, and most parties have more than 10 members, this could be a worthwhile method of embarassing opposing viewpoints.

        • by digitig (1056110)

          Given that 10% of the population would be vulnerable, and most parties have more than 10 members

          But party members are unlikely to be a random sample from the population.

          • That's true, but I don't think anyone has shown a strong correlation correlation between sociopathic tendencies and sexual orientation...
    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:09AM (#39484109) Homepage

      The part I liked was this theory that some evil character might use facebook ads to find openly gay men by targeting their demographic with ads, hoping they fall for those ads, then somehow trying to convert their clicks to identities with real contact info... so, what, they can go commit a 'hate crime'...?

      Even for crazy SOB's, that's about the worst plan ever. Like, villain in a TV special, dumb.

    • if I choose to declare that I'm gay

      Pssht! I've got a secret for you: even if you leave the "prefers women or men" selector blank, Facebook can still figure it out. They just need to look at your friends, and if a sizable number of them did chose to come out of the closet, they can infer with a reasonable probability that you are gay too, even if you're still in the closet (as far as Facebook is concerned).

      The effect is pretty obvious if you are gay, and live in a reasonably small town. Just click any person in the same town, look at the com

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39483749) Journal

    Page 3 before gay men are even mentioned and that's the headline? I'm not even going to bother making an on topic post.

  • The math is simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:38AM (#39483799)

    The gay's tend not to have kids. That means that they have more discretionary income. More discretionary income equates to more readily purchasing more expensive toys more often than the guy that supports a family. It's why you see shiny things like the latest Itoy so often in the hands of gay people, they can afford them. It's just math and the logic is sound.

    The second part though, the idea that someone would go to all the trouble to use something like this to track down a bunch of gays is absurd. Why bother doing that when if your a nutter you just go to your local gay bar instead? You know the one that advertises to attract all of those gays?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:46AM (#39483895) Journal

      Doesn't it work the other way too? Parents have kids, kids that need things, things that you might buy from diaperdepot.com if there were a link on your facebook page that is your only remaining connection to the independant young adult you once were.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geoffrobinson (109879)

        My guess would be that once buying habits are set for parents, they are hard to change. So advertising for that demographic would be worth less.

        • by Tanktalus (794810)

          Spoken as one who doesn't have kids and therefore has never faced down the "I want that"s at the end of an exhaustingly long day and just can't put up with it anymore. Advertising doesn't target the parents.

          My wife is not a "girly girl" (she plays D&D). Yet the amount of pink/princess stuff in the house... (first child: girl)

          And, while space is "neat", it's not fascinating. We just held a space-themed birthday party (second child: boy). Got more than a couple space-themed toys laying around.

          (Third c

        • by alen (225700)

          yep

          both my kids didn't react well to pampers so my wife and I buy Seventh Generation diapers without a second thought.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Yes and no. Yes, someone with kids would be more likely to go to a diaper store or something. Thing is, when you have kids, you now are splitting your income 3+ ways, with only two of the people in the family making the income, if that. Those sorts of people will be looking for discounts, not ways to spend their money at boutique baby stores, unless they are very well off. When you have dual income and no kids, which is most of the gay population, you ensure that the discretionary income is maximized.

        • Yes and no. Yes, someone with kids would be more likely to go to a diaper store or something.

          Forget diapers... The real money comes from selling those parents toys, clothing, extra life insurance, sugar-frosted{quasi-food name}, and a mountain of stuff that they didn't really need until you convinced them that they did.

          All that said, it's easier to sell parents your kid-oriented stuff by directly manipulating the kid, which means that Facebook is likely not going to charge you as much in advertising rates.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:08AM (#39484105)
        Yes [nytimes.com], women newly pregnant for the first time are highly desirable and targeted demographic. That link describes the lengths Target goes to in order to identify those women, even if they haven't told anybody yet (on facebook or otherwise). But after the spike of one-time purchases and brand adoption during the pregnancy, most of the purchases for actually raising a child are recurring and made from habit, so advertising is less effective.
        • by IICV (652597) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @11:16AM (#39484729)

          But after the spike of one-time purchases and brand adoption during the pregnancy, most of the purchases for actually raising a child are recurring and made from habit, so advertising is less effective.

          Actually you missed the most important part - after the spike of one-time purchases during the pregnancy, most purchases for actually raising a child are made from habits that can be influenced during the pregnancy.

          That's why advertising to newly pregnant women is so profitable; if you pull it off properly, you might have a customer who will now buy things from you for the next eighteen years - and then that child will have memories of shopping at Target, and refuse to shop anywhere else (e.g, my wife absolutely refuses to shop at K-Mart and will drive further to go to a Target, just because that's where her mother shopped when she was a kid).

      • by digitig (1056110)
        So you target the "hits from the musicals" collections at the gay men, the diaper ads at the heterosexual with kids demographic and the (str8) dating ads at the heterosexual without kids demographic. And of course that leads to lots of misdirected ads, but far fewer than blasting them out to the general population. Heck, if they just targeted the breast enlargement ads to women only then the amount of spam I got would go down by about 30%.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      In the article it's only an example that more specific groups cost more per ad, it might be the case that limiting search to heterosexuals also rises the price according to their ratio.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      not just because they're rich, but because they care more about form than function, just like women tend to.. ie the perfect apple customers.

      would you like to take a free personality test?

    • by Afty0r (263037)

      But all that money that "family guys" are spending - that's ALSO on products for which advertisers want to target you. The new 4x4, mortgage, insurance, family holidays, cleaning products, kids toys etc. etc.

      Those are all products that get advertised heavily too, so the theory that "gays have more discretionary spend" doesn't necessarily lead to "gays are worth more per click".

    • Well, raw income data does not seem to bear the same conclusion, from the US Census [census.gov]:

      Married opposite-sex couples report the highest average household income (nearly $100,000), while the same-sex couple household income is around $86,000, which is higher than the unmarried opposite-sex partners with only an average household income of $51,275.

      Now of course it is difficult to get an exact fix as there are bound to be generational differences in how "out" people are(older people tend to earn more as a tr
      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I won't doubt your figures, my point is on disposable income. Kids are really expensive and they take up almost all of your discretionary income. Making more income doesn't help either as you just end up buying more expensive stuff for the kids.

        It's the power of the DINK (Dual income No Kids) that makes gays such a juicy marketing target. The single guy doesn't have the Dual Income part to help his budget. Going by your figures a hetrosexual DINK couple would be even more valuable. However I would imagine t

      • That data is only about couples with children, not all couples.

        Also, income != discretionary income.

    • They're called DINKs. Dual Income, No Kids.

    • The second part though, the idea that someone would go to all the trouble to use something like this to track down a bunch of gays is absurd. Why bother doing that when if your a nutter you just go to your local gay bar instead? You know the one that advertises to attract all of those gays?

      I believe you missed the point. It's not a question of being possible to simply go to your local gay bar and track down a bunch of gays. The fundamental issue is that, with this, the nutters don't need to go to your loc

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      The gay's tend not to have kids. That means that they have more discretionary income. More discretionary income equates to more readily purchasing more expensive toys more often than the guy that supports a family. It's why you see shiny things like the latest Itoy so often in the hands of gay people, they can afford them. It's just math and the logic is sound.

      The second part though, the idea that someone would go to all the trouble to use something like this to track down a bunch of gays is absurd. Why bother doing that when if your a nutter you just go to your local gay bar instead? You know the one that advertises to attract all of those gays?

      A single person (gay or otherwise) tends to spend the same as a married person with kids. The difference is what the spending is used for.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      This exact point was made by a gay friend of mine a few days ago (but in a totally unrelated conversation). Of course, the original statement was that "Breeders don't have play money." But it's the same sentiment......advertisers want the dollars, so they target the people who have the most of them.

    • by slashkitty (21637)
      Exactly. If you wanted to track down gay men.. go to a gay club and look around (or even stand outside and watch who goes in). You certainly don't waste your time making a fake facebook ad. OMG gay clubs are outing gay men!
    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      The gay's tend not to have kids.

      Not being able to adopt has some effect on that.

  • by dealmaster00 (904299) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:40AM (#39483825)
    Don't want to be targeted? Don't use Facebook.
  • Will it also include all the deeply-closeted homosexuals who always seem to be the most vocal gay-bashers in any given group? Because I'm thinking that if someone like Ted Haggard [wikipedia.org] sees his own house on the list, it may actually result in a helpful moment of epiphany.

    • Eh, it's trivial to identify who is a Ted Haggard type:

      Are they loudly, constantly, angrily anti-gay and bring up he issue constantly and without any reason?

      If yes, they are almost certainly so deep into the closet the live in Narnia.

      See: reaction formation.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:50AM (#39483939)
    While Homosexuality gets a lot of discrimination and hate... For the most part they are living an above average standard of life, so they have money, so advertising targeted towards them is valuable.
    It comes down to a group that doesn't quite fit in well with the general public and Adds saying We will welcome you to come to our location where you won't feel like an outcast. So Advertising targeted to that group is far more effective... Thus costs more.

    Many Other Minorities don't work as well.
    Minority Races - for the most part the have a lower then average salary. That means most of the people will be less likely to spend money.
    Non-Christians - For the religious non-Christians they have their places of worship where they feel like they belong. For Atheists for most places they go they are able to pass as a normal citizen. And if their religion doesn't have much of a dress requirement they are normally able to pass off anyways. For some of the real minorities the numbers are too small to advertise for.
    • For the most part they are living an above average standard of life, so they have money

      Citation needed. The numbers I've seen indicate the opposite--that gay men earn significantly less than straight men which suggests a lower standard of living. A brief search for standard of living instead of earnings came up with nothing.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      While Homosexuality gets a lot of discrimination and hate... For the most part they are living an above average standard of life, so they have money, so advertising targeted towards them is valuable.

      Cool story, bro.

  • Meaningless numbers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:53AM (#39483955) Homepage

    For example, an advert that targets everyone within a 10-mile radius of a medium-sized British town (Dorking) is valued at 28p per click by Facebook's advertising tool. However, targeting single gay men in the area with a preference for nightclubbing raises the price to 71p per click

    That typically means young and single, which has always been a very attractive market with a lot of disposable time and money. Can we get a comparison to straight people with a preference to nightclubbing? Of course a blanket ad trying to sell to everyone is worth far far less...

  • The consumer. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:57AM (#39483993)

    All companies care about is advertising turning into real sales. Gay guys are likely closer to females in terms of frequent frivolous spending, i.e. spending on clothing and other accessories. Not that guys necessarily spend less, but their spending is more focused and comes in bigger chunks at less frequent intervals. Also, gay guys, like women, are more fashion and image conscious which means they'll buy into fads more readily and willfully overpay for products they fund appealing. The invention of the metrosexual was an attempt to bring that same mindset to straight men. I'd say it's met with some success, but it's certainly not as reliable as other demographics.

    The interest in Facebook is obvious; targeted advertising. The ultimate goal for any company in the consumer space is that we all turn into consumer whores; gender or sexual orientation is irrelevant unless a particular demographic shows increased inclination to spend.

    • I am somehow unsure of the Dorking "metrosexual" demographic.

      I'd suppose it to be similar to that of rural New Hamshire, or Labrador, if you like.

      "My name is Daffydd, and I am the only gay in the village."

    • The ultimate goal for any company in the consumer space is that we all turn into consumer whores

      Yes and no. That's more the hard-core side of marketing, or the cynical perception of it. The simple fact is that everybody buys stuff. In the corporate world, everybody sells stuff. The goal of marketing is to influence the first group to buy the stuff of the second group. Yes, there's upselling and driven demand, but for a large number of products, businesses just want you to choose them instead of their competitor when you break out your wallet.

      As you said - for discretionary spending gays are prime real

    • by Hollinger (16202)

      Gay guys are likely closer to females in terms of frequent frivolous spending, i.e. spending on clothing and other accessories. Not that guys necessarily spend less, but their spending is more focused and comes in bigger chunks at less frequent intervals. Also, gay guys, like women, are more fashion and image conscious which means they'll buy into fads more readily and willfully overpay for products they fund appealing.

      Umm, Not all of us? Trying to draw a connection between gay males' shopping habits and st

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Gay guys are likely closer to females in terms of frequent frivolous spending, i.e. spending on clothing and other accessories. Not that guys necessarily spend less, but their spending is more focused and comes in bigger chunks at less frequent intervals. Also, gay guys, like women, are more fashion and image conscious which means they'll buy into fads more readily and willfully overpay for products they fund appealing.

      Cool story, bro.

  • There's a certain dichotomy to targeted advertising. It's ideal for both the consumer and business in the sense that advertising costs less when you only have to pay for people who are likely to be interested in your product. Even if the per-click is 2.5x as much, if you are targeting an audience that is 1/10 the size of the general population (or smaller), its better. While there are some businesses which operate on a premium product, in general market pressures will keep costs to a typical margin over th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're the product, not the customer. And products don't get to complain about privacy, they're products!

  • Dammit (Score:5, Funny)

    by RivenAleem (1590553) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:05AM (#39484069)

    I knew something was odd about that add for a Gay Male who finished school in '95 in the small town of Skibbereen working as a barista in Starbucks in Blackrock, with horn rim glasses and wearing a hoodie currently typing on ... aaaarrrrgggggggggg

  • Are you serious? People still see ads on the web?

    http://www.firefox.com/ [firefox.com]
    http://www.adblockplus.com/ [adblockplus.com]

    Please help me help the advertisers realize they are useless and unwanted. Use ABP today.

  • 'I think the worst scenario might be where someone who hates gays uses Facebook's targeting to identify gay users and later attack them

    Given events of the last 40 years, I think a much bigger danger is that someone would use Facebook's targeting to identify Jews in their area and attack them.

    • by mbkennel (97636)

      following people home from the synagogue just isn't Kewl enough for millenial haters I guess.

  • Its not value per click that they should care about, its value per minute. You could have 20 people worth 100x the rest of the population but if the rest of the population is 10,000x bigger than that small population, which group is really going to provide more profit?
  • Not a facebook user- so this seems rather odd to me.

    So there is a checkbox for "orientation" that is a default profile set up on facebook? That just seems wrong from the outset.

    Given many in society actively discriminate against gays- it sounds like facebook is just making it easier for people to do that. Why on earth does facebook need to ask that? It's not a dating site.

    Staight people wouldn't hesitate checking the straight box. So if people are "undeclared" on facebook, I imagine there is a good chan

  • by c (8461)

    I wonder if maybe Facebook is one of the only (or best) sources of demographic data which can accurately tag someone as "gay", particularly since the users themselves tend to be the ones providing that data?

  • 'I think the worst scenario might be where someone who hates gays uses Facebook's targeting to identify gay users and later attack them,'says Paul Francis, scientific director of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems."

    I think the best scenario might be where someone who hates Justin Bieber uses Facebook's targeting to identify Justin Beeber and later attack him.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

Working...