How you are always tracked on the internet

As Meta adapts, some small businesses have started looking for other avenues for ads. Shawn Baker, owner of Baker SoftWash, an outdoor cleaning business in Mooresville, North Carolina, said it used to take about $6 worth of Facebook ads to identify a new customer. Now it costs $27 because the ads aren’t finding the right people, he said.

Mr. Baker began spending $200 a month to advertise through Google’s Marketing for Local Businesses program, which pops up his website when locals search for cleaners. To compensate for these higher marketing costs, he increased his prices by 7%.

“You spend more money now than you had to spend before to do the same things,” he said.

Other tech giants with first-party information are capitalizing on the change. Amazon, for example, has tons of data about its customers, including what they buy, where they live, and what movies or TV shows they stream.

In February, Amazon first disclosed the size of its advertising business — $31.2 billion in revenue in 2021. That makes advertising its third-largest source of sales after e-commerce and cloud computing. Amazon declined to comment.

Amber Murray, owner of See Your Strength in St. George, Utah, which sells stickers online for people with anxiety, began experimenting with ads on Amazon after Facebook ad performance deteriorated. The results have been remarkable, she says.

In February, she paid around $200 to have Amazon feature her products at the top of search results when customers searched for textured stickers. Sales totaled $250 a day and continued to grow, she said. When she spent $85 on a Facebook ad campaign in January, it only brought in $37.50 in sales, she said.

“I think the golden age of Facebook advertising is over,” Ms. Murray said. “On Amazon, people are looking for you, instead of telling people what they should want.”

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