With this new service Facebook is finally making location-based ads useful

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Facebook location-based ads social Geoawesomeness

Social media marketing is a part of a marketing mix of almost every company. It’s a great channel to reach out to your audience, engage and communicate with customers and to precisely target your ads and actions. On the other hand companies have trouble measuring social media marketing ROI. The answer to this problem was supposed to come with “the age of mobile”. In theory smartphones allow to connect your online presence with your physical location. In practise it’s much more difficult than we might think and there were just a few companies that managed to build a sustainable location-based advertising business around it.

The problem is scale and conversion. On one side to attract big advertisers like large retail chains you need to have a huge user base to make them consider you as a partner, on the other hand you need to prove that your solution is not yet another useless app and preferably it generates a direct return on investment. This is not an easy task.

Large social media players like Facebook or Twitter were looking into the potential of social location-based marketing for a while but their attempts were never creating enough traction to attract large players… until today…

Today Facebook announced a set of new location-based marketing tools and services that might be the Holy Grail of location and advertising. As a starting point Facebook gives advertisers a simple way to include an interactive map displaying physical store locations so that users can find it and get details like opening hours.

The shop locator shows a map of all of the locations that a business has nearby. People can click on the map in the advert to view information about nearby locations. Without leaving the advert or app, they can view the address, opening times, phone number, website and estimated travel time for each shop.

Facebook location-based ads Geoawesomeness

The next step of this new location-based marketing equation is tracking your phone’s location to measure how many users who saw the ad actually visited the store. It will give advertisers data to see if their Facebook ads attract customers to their brick-and-mortar stores.
Advertisers including E.Leclerc, M&S, Petco, Burger King UK and Cadillac have used shop visits to better understand foot traffic to their locations after running Local Awareness adverts. French retailer E.Leclerc was able to reach 1.5 million people within 10 kilometres of their shops and found that approximately 12% of clicks on their advert were followed by a visit to a shop within seven days.

 
The final piece of this offering is connecting you with your in-store purchase. Facebook has launched a new API, called the Offline Conversions API that is supposed to match the Facebook ad data with transaction data from a number of in-store sales systems including IBM, Index, Invoca, Lightspeed, LiveRamp, Marketo and Square. The goal is to connect your purchases in brick and mortar locations with ads that you may have come across on Facebook.

On one hand i’ts brilliant and it’s something that the advertising market was waiting for a long time. On the other hand constant tracking of user’s location and the fact that the there is no simple opt-out option brings some privacy concerns.

As one of Google’s employees pointed out on Twitter, Google has been measuring store visits for a while now but Facebook is a different platform with a different purpose.

Will this new service prove that location, social and marketing goes together well? We don’t know but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

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