June 14th, 2012

Facebook Data on Kids Could Help Target Ads to Parents

By Matt Kapko

If Facebook opens its wildly popular network to pre-teens, it may not resist the urge to monetize the millions of new users it stands to gain by lowering the minimum age through advertising. Marketers and agency executives are split as to whether the move will facilitate a new channel for brands to target and advertise to children, but most agree that Facebook could fulfill a largely unmet need by simply creating a popular and safe place for children online.

Access to a wider, younger audience on Facebook could open a vast untapped opportunity for brands, but if advertising is part of the mix it would also open another door for privacy advocates and regulators to chastise the site for putting advertising revenue above child privacy. Currently, Facebook only allows kids over 13 years old to join in the fun, but there are already untold millions of younger members who joined by providing a false age.

Facebook is developing technology that would allow pre-teens to use the site under adult supervision, according to a June 4 Wall Street Journal report, but following its messy initial public offering and years-long battle over privacy controls, some are wondering if this might be more trouble than it’s worth.

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