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Facebook Testing Ads to Allow Digital Marketers to Target Brick & Mortar Visitors

 Custom audiences use Location Services to target in-store visitors and allow proximity marketing

Facebook_CustomAudienceStoreVisits-353x400.jpgFacebook is testing an op
tion for advertisers to target people who visited their real-world locations with ads on Facebook, Instagram and Facebook’s Audience Network ad network, according to a screen shot of the new ad-targeting option provided by Marketing Land’s  Moshe Isaacian.

  Facebook, for its part, is keeping mum on the specifics. “We’re always exploring new ways to help marketers drive offline value from their ads, but have nothing new to announce at this time,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

How's it work?

If you’re familiar with using custom audience to target people who have visited your website or a web page, this appears to works in almost the same way.

Instead of assigning a tracking pixel to your online store, Facebook uses the (permission-based) location services (an option in the mobile app settings.) to track users and then cross-references with background signals like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to determine if someone is within a business location’s boundaries. Those people can then be targeted by selecting the custom audience called “Strore Vists” for targeting or retargeting with ads.

What can you do with it?

If you own a retailer, restaurant or bar owner (or a brand looking to drive customers to retailers), you’re finally going to be able to do what ecommerce folks have been doing for years. It allows you to target people who should already interested in your store/brand/products because they’ve been in your physical location. gives a great example of how this might work in real-life: “A department store chain could create a Custom Audience of people who visited one of its stores in the past month or so and filter that list with other Facebook targeting options like “parents with early school age children” to run a campaign promoting early-bird Christmas shopping with an exclusive discount code for that audience.

 If you’re a more sophisticated digital marketer, you could also use your store visitors’ customer audience as a proxy of sorts to target ads to people who have similar characteristics and who may be likely to also drop by their store, restaurant or other location.  Another option is to encourage new visitors by excluding people who have already visited the store from a campaign that offers a new visitor only promotion.


Are there any restrictions?

At this point, it looks like brands must have multiple locations (how many specifically is TBD) enabled to create a Custom Audience of store visitors, and that audience can only include people who visited a brand’s location within the past 30 days at the maximum.

What’s the BFD?

Linking online ads to instore purchases has been long seen as the holy grail for online advertising.

 Facebook is looking to jump into this pool and trying put some distance between itself and its rivals.  Last fall, Google began using the DoubleClick ad platform to attempt to tying offline actions to display adsand this spring it added improvements that included its AdWords metrics. Likewise, Snapchat rolled out the “Snap to Store” measurement and bought a location analytics firm, Placed, to similarly tracks people’s locations throughout the day and cross-references those coordinates with businesses’ locations to attribute ads.

 At this point, the biggest challenge to all of these programs is the granularity of the location data, but that is a problem that is likely to be solved once the concept process viable. The second, is getting users to opt into allow their location to be tracked. But with the growth of the Facebook Places and other location based services , users have increasing number of reasons to allow themselves to be tracked.