Big Possibilities for Brands With New Facebook Targeting Tool

Share this:


In October, Facebook launched a long-awaited feature for many small business marketers: the ability to reach people nearby. Now, along with small businesses taking advantage of the tool, big brands are finding ways to to leverage the new Facebook Local Awareness ads — and do so at scale.

The tool allows small businesses to create ads to reach local audiences, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for Facebook advertising that didn’t exist before. Using the tools, small businesses can deliver ads to Facebook user’s mobile news feeds based on not only where they live, but actually where they are at that moment. For consumers, that means they may start to see the ads which populate their news feeds adjust as they move throughout their day.

Rob Reed, founder of MomentFeed, a company that develops analytics software to help retailers market to nearby mobile users, says the success of the product is in its simplicity. By leaving out many of the sophisticated advertising mechanisms, and focusing on getting people to walk in the door, the product has been a boon for a mom-and-pop market that has struggled to keep up with a bustling digital marketing industry.

“They want to get the message out to people around you and want people directed to their business,” he says. “It’s really perfect on social media to really deliver on the promise for Facebook advertising for smaller businesses.”

But that simplicity has not stopped larger brands from embracing the product as well. While the native Local Awareness product is simple for small, single-location businesses, Facebook’s APIs are also available to third-party developers like MomentFeed to execute Local Awareness campaigns on a national scale with very sophisticated targeting — making it also a great tool for big brands, according to Reed.

“Your mobile device is highly personable,” Reed says. “If you are receiving ads on that device, you want them to map to that expectation of relevance. And people know they are sharing their location by phone. They don’t want to be creeped out by it — wondering if they are being followed — but they do want it to provide more value than the ad they are seeing on television being broadcast to multiple people.”

Facebook says since the Local Awareness product is still fairly new, they don’t have any concrete examples of how big brands are leveraging it, but could confirm brands have found it to be a compelling solution based on initial feedback. Reed says doing local advertising awareness for one location is pretty straightforward, but when you start to thinking about doing it for hundreds or thousands of locations, there’s a lot of complexity involved in pulling it off.

One example would be if a company like Starbucks is running a campaign, each individual location in the chain would be able to target ads toward people within a defined radius of each location. “So as a consumer, you aren’t getting an ad from Starbucks corporate but rather an ad from the local Starbucks right down the street from you,” he says. “This a much more relevant and meaningful advertising experience. It’s what consumers have come to expect on their mobile devices. And as a result, we see significant lifts in ad response, performance, and ROI.”

Facebook also says reports that a recent update to the Facebook privacy policy was accompanied by the Local Awareness capability were false. The same source says the ability to target location didn’t change when the policy was updated this month, users may just be more aware of it now.

Liz Taurasi is a contributor at Street Fight.