How Does Facebook Know What I Search in Google?

By Paolo Tanjuatco

Have you ever done some shopping on Google, opened your Facebook, and seen ads for the very same product you were just searching for? It can be disconcerting to see your search history follow you across platforms! Many people think this means that Google shares your data with Facebook, or that your search history isn’t being handled securely.

However, this is a misconception. Contrary to appearances, your data isn’t being shared across websites. Instead, it’s being handled securely by Google ads or Facebook ads that are linked to your profile.

Google ads and Facebook ads are both powerful tools in marketing as they provide a lot of product exposure across many different platforms. You can take advantage of this ad technology for yourself. But first, you have to understand how they work and what data they have access to.

In this article, we’ll be discussing both Google and Facebook ads so read on to learn more!

Do Facebook and Google Share Data?

At first glance, it looks like Google is either selling or sharing your data with Facebook. But, Google and Facebook are competitors. This means there’s no reason for them to share your data with each other.

Instead, they each use the data they have about you to curate ads that they think will appeal to you. Your ads on both will be quite similar as they’re tailored to you, but both have separate databases of information. In fact, Google promises that it will never sell your data.

You can tell if you’re looking at a Google or a Facebook ad quite easily. Google ads have a small logo in the corner, marking them as a Google ad slot. You might see them on Facebook or anywhere around the web.

Websites that have Google ad banners don’t have access to your data at all. Instead, Google uses your data to pick an ad behind the scenes. It sends only the ad to the website, keeping your data secure.

Facebook ads, on the other hand, appear mainly only on Facebook products: Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. In addition, they won’t include the “Google” tag.

Google Ads

Google has access to all your search history, and it uses this information to give you targeted ads. For example, if you’re searching for ski vacations, you might find yourself peppered with ads for ski equipment.

With all the information you provide across Google products, it also formulates a profile of you. This information includes age, interests, and more. The Google algorithm uses this profile to further tailor ads that it thinks will appeal to you.

You can see this profile for yourself to see how Google chooses your ads. On any Google page, click your profile icon in the top right corner. Then click “Manage your Google Account.” Under the tab “Data & Privacy,” you’ll find a section for your ad settings.

Click into your ad settings, and you’ll see some of the things that Google thinks you’re interested in. You can adjust and remove interests for more relevant advertising too.

So, when you see an ad around the web that knows exactly what you’ve just Google searched, it’s probably a Google ads banner!

Facebook Ads

If you see Facebook marketing ads that also seem to know about your Google search history, it’s not because Facebook is spying on you. Instead, it’s likely that you clicked on a link from your search. The website you visited is probably using ad tracking with Facebook.

What Is Ad Tracking?

Ad tracking, or internet tracking, is a process where websites use cookies to understand your behavior. Every user who visits a website is given a small piece of code called a cookie, that is stored in your browser. Then, when you visit other sites, they have access to these internet cookies and can use them to serve personalized ads.

The Facebook algorithm works with a version of a cookie called a “Facebook Pixel.” Websites and companies can use Facebook Pixel on their website to track visitor activity. The Pixels are then fed into the Facebook algorithm to serve ads on your Facebook page.
It would work something like this. Let’s say you do a Google search for a specific pair of shoes and click on a few links. In doing so, you’ll have gotten a few Facebook Pixels.

The next time you go to your Facebook page, these Pixels are read and decoded and you’re likely to see ads for the same pair of shoes across your Facebook. While it might appear that Facebook is spying on your Google search history, it’s just internet ad tracking working as intended!

Using Targeted Ads to Your Advantage

As you can see, both ad services have different sources of information. This means that neither is getting the complete picture. To take full advantage of internet marketing, you should take use both for complete cross-platform advertising.

Using Google ads is a great way to reach your target audience on many different websites. The Google algorithm has a wealth of secure data on everyone in your perspective audience and can direct your ads to the right customers. However, Google ads don’t have a big presence on social media.

While you might see some Google ads on your Facebook, they’re far outweighed by the amount of Facebook ads. In addition, Facebook ads are the only ones served on Instagram and Messenger. To get your ads into the social media world, it’s worth investing in Facebook ads as well.

Using both Google and Facebook ads together gives you access to both algorithms for broad-spectrum, personalized advertising.

Build an Advertising Strategy With the Experts Today

Although Google and Facebook are strong marketing tools, these ad services only scratch the surface of online marketing. If you really want to grow your business online, you need a comprehensive SEO plan formulated by the experts. With a plan, you’ll tap into the correct markets and you’ll start seeing some major results.

At Fortify SEO, we’re passionate about helping businesses reach their full potential. We can help you formulate the digital marketing strategy that’s right for you. Reach out to us today and experience the difference for yourself!

Got questions? Let’s talk!

About the Author

Paolo Tanjuatco is a Brand and Marketing Strategist who has over 17 years of experience. Currently the head of FortifySEO with more than a decade of experience working in brand marketing for industry leading companies in the Philippines and multinationals.

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