Guidelines 08/2020 on the targeting of social media users – version for public consultation
Section 4.3 Targeters
24 These guidelines use the term “targeter” to designate natural or legal persons that use social media services in order to direct specific messages at a set of social media users on the basis of specific parameters or criteria. What sets targeters apart from other users of social media is that they select their messages and/or their intended audience according to the perceived characteristics, interests or preferences of the individuals concerned, a practice which is sometimes also referred to as “micro-targeting”. Targeters can engage in targeting to advance commercial, political, or other interests. Typical examples include brands who use social media to advertise their products including to increase brand awareness. Political parties also increasingly make use of social media as part of their campaigning strategy. Charities and other non-profit organisations also use social media to target messages at potential contributors or to develop communities.
25 It is important to note that social media users can be targeted in different ways. For example, targeting might occur not only through displaying personalized advertisement (e.g. through a “banner” shown on the top or side of a webpage), but – as far as it is happening within the social media platform – also through display in a user’s “feed”, ”timeline“ or “story”, where the advertising content appears alongside user-generated content. Targeting may also involve the creation of content hosted by the social media provider (e.g. via a dedicated “page” or other social media presence) or elsewhere (i.e. on third-party websites). Targeters may have their own websites and apps, where they can integrate specific social media business tools or features such as social plugins or logins orby using the application programming interfaces (APIs) or software development kits (SDKs) offered by social mediaproviders.