July 30, 2019

Facebook Request for Proposals for Research to Improve Ad Experiences

This Research Award is now closed


At Facebook, we are passionate about connecting people with the businesses they care most about. One of the ways that we do this is through the products we build. To foster further innovation in the digital advertising space and to deepen our collaboration with the academic community, Facebook is pleased to invite the academic community to respond to this call for research proposals on ad experiences. We are interested in supporting research to help us deepen our understanding of people’s ad experiences on Facebook and Instagram. A few examples of topics of interest for this RFP include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ad targeting
    • What makes people feel comfortable or uncomfortable with certain ads?
    • What makes an ad bad or good with regard to content, context, and targeting?
  • User experience
    • How can we improve people’s experiences with ads?
    • How can we give people better control over the ads that they see?
    • How can we improve people’s understanding of how Facebook targets online ads?
  • Approaches to increase trust
    • How can new product and policy approaches increase trust?
    • How does transparency and control influence people’s trust?

Facebook will grant awards of up to $50K USD per awardee to fund projects of up to one year in duration. This RFP challenge is open to applicants from academic institutions worldwide. This includes individual researchers addressing a well-defined problem, or multiple university departments collaborating with a diverse set of skills to solve a more complex multi-disciplinary challenge. We encourage proposals of diverse perspectives from emerging scholars and researchers around the world studying these issues.


The recipients of this research award have been chosen and are listed below. Principal investigators are listed first unless otherwise noted.

Identifying User Needs for Advertising Controls
Lorrie Cranor and Hana Habib (Carnegie Mellon University)

Explainable Ads: Improving Ad Targeting Transparency with Explainable AI
Sauvik Das (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Reconsidering Ads in Social Media: A Self-Actualization Approach
Bart Piet Knijnenburg (Clemson University)

Applications are now closed

Application Dates

*Note: Technical reviews took longer than expected, so we have not yet notified submitters of their proposal status. We will send email notifications to all applicants as soon as we can.

  • Launch Date July 30, 2019
  • Deadline
  • Winners Announced October 2019


Proposals should include

  • Summary of the project (1-2 pages): Include an explanation of the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes. Please also include a clear and concise statement of the scientific contribution and routes to eventual deployment. References are not included in the two-page limit, but please keep these concise.
  • A budget description (1 page): Include an approximate cost of the project and explanation of how funds would be spent. Please also include funds for travel for the PI to attend a workshop in Menlo Park to discuss findings with the Facebook team in late 2020.
  • Curriculum Vitae(s): Provide the names of the researcher(s) involved in the proposed work with their CV/resume or links to Google Scholar pages.
  • Organization details including tax information and administrative finance contact details
  • Keywords: Please select from the following keywords: advertising algorithms, algorithmic transparency, ad explanation, information flows, transparency, targeted advertising, privacy, personalization, ad performance


  • Organizations must be an accredited academic institution (PhD granting) with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.
  • Funding will be disbursed to the institution of the Principal Investigator of any resulting award.
  • Awards must comply with applicable US and international laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Facebook will not provide access to any Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp data for awarded projects. Any data collected by research teams must comply with Facebook’s terms and policies and have approval from the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), if applicable. Please be aware that Facebook does not allow the automated scraping of public information from the platform.

Budget and Payment

  • Award amount can vary, but is typically up to $50,000.
  • Payment: The award will be made to the PI's host university as an unrestricted gift. Overhead is limited to 5% for gifts. Overhead amounts should be built into proposed budgets.

Timing and Dates

  • Applications are closed.
  • Notifications will be sent by email to selected applicants in October 2019*

*Note: Technical reviews took longer than expected, so we have not yet notified submitters of their proposal status. We will send email notifications to all applicants as soon as we can.

Additional Information

Award recipients will be invited to visit Menlo Park, California to discuss their findings/insights with the Facebook team in 2020. Please budget travel for one PI to attend as a part of the proposed project budget.

We encourage the winners to openly publish any findings/insights from their work. Successful awardees will be also listed on the Facebook Research website.

For additional questions related to this RFP, please email academicrelations@fb.com.

Award Recipients

Bart Piet Knijnenburg

Clemson University

RFP: HCI & UX - 2019

Lorrie Cranor

Carnegie Mellon University

RFP: HCI & UX - 2019

Sauvik Das

Georgia Institute of Technology

RFP: HCI & UX - 2019

Terms & Conditions

Grant Terms and Conditions

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this solicitation, including interpretation of these Terms and awards at any time. Awards will be subject to additional Terms and Conditions for awardees which will be communicated to recipients after selection. All items apply unless otherwise stated above. Please Read These Terms Carefully Before Proceeding.

  • By submitting a proposal, you are authorizing Facebook to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce, and distribute all or a portion of your proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with this RFP and grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization.

See this page for full Terms and Conditions.