Media Theory

Have you ever wondered how to analyze a Facebook ad? Do you sometimes wonder why you're even seeing a particular Facebook ad? How do they you well enough to think you might click on this ad? How are Facebook ads created? We'll talk about these things and more here!

A typical Facebook ad and its elements:

  1. This is a warning telling you that this is something Facebook recommends for you, so you know that you didn't specifically request this.
  2. This section makes it more explicit that this is a sponsored post - basically, an advertisement. It also has the name of the company who paid Facebook to place the ad in you news feed.
  3. If you click here, you will like the company's Facebook page. Their posts will now appear in your feed without them needing to pay anyone.
  4. This is the attention grabber. It is meant to make you interested in the product and read the rest of the post.
  5. This section contains an image chosen by the company in the hopes that they could quickly get your attention before you scroll past it.
  6. This section contains a headline and body text, similar to a print advertisement. It describes the product and how it will benefit you.
  7. You click on the website or click on "learn more" to be taken to the company's sign-up page.
  8. Just like a regular Facebook post, users can like this advertisement. This makes it more integrated with Facebook and makes it seem less intrusive. It shows the people actually like this product. Would you ever click on a Facebook post with zero likes?
  9. Also just like a Facebook post, you can comment. This is a double edge sword for the advertiser. The comments can be positive or negative. The company has limited ways to control that.
  10. Finally, the company hopes that you would share this on your own timeline. This helps them extend their reach without paying extra money.

So how does Facebook know that you might like this product? Well, you've given Facebook your location, your age, your gender identity, your interests (from the groups and pages that you join and like). Advertisers can target specific ads to specific people based on age, region, and interests.

You can learn a lot more about this topic by buying our book, Practical Media Literacy: An essential guide to the critical thinking skills for our digital world. You would be supporting our work so that we can bring you more great resources.

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Media Literacy: 3rd Edition

media literacy 3rd edition

Media Literacy is a critical skill students must learn to succeed in today's tech-driven, media-saturated society. This book helps students understand media literacy, and how to implement and share that knowledge with others. As an experienced media literacy expert and professor, Nick Pernisco provides a well-researched guide for learning this important critical thinking skill and using it in everyday life. This is a must-read for anyone interested in learning how to interpret the enormous amounts of information we are exposed to every day, both in traditional media and online. Buy it now!