Facebook launches new ad format for local businesses

On Tuesday this week Facebook announced the launch of ‘Local Awareness’ ads, a new advert format that enables local businesses to target residents and people who have visited their local area.

Facebook figures this is one of their most precise newsfeed ad options yet as it enables businesses to hone in on FB users who live, work or hangout within as little as a single mile’s radius from their site.   

As an added extra, the social network has also added a ‘Get Directions’ button option to this ad type.  When clicked, the user’s Facebook smartphone app will direct people straight to your door.  I imagine this is a feature that will have big fans especially if you’re a business that is tucked just out of sight from the main high street.

Local Awareness ads are set to go live in the next few weeks across the USA and will roll out globally over the coming months.

So how do Local Awareness Ads work?

Businesses can set-up their location-based ads within the existing Ad Manager dashboard that’s available to all Facebook business page owners or administrators.

At the start you simply choose the ‘location awareness’ objective on the opening screen and then you’re led through a series of panels where you design the look and feel of your ad.    The next step is to add your business address and then set your preferred distance radius option from your location.   As with other existing ad formats, you can also select other demographic information at this point including age, gender, interests etc.  Facebook then calculates how many people they can potentially serve your ad to.   According to Facebook their location targeting is ‘based on information from sources such as current city from people’s profile, IP address, data from mobile device (if location services are enabled), and aggregated information about the location of people’s friends’.

If you’re a multi-location business, Facebook advises that you use the local Page you should have set up for each site and then set-up your ad within the local Page’s Ad Manager dashboard.   However, for businesses with many sites this may prove to be a bit of a headache.  If you’d prefer to streamline the setup of your local ads, it’s suggested that you use the Facebook ads API which is available for any business that wants to setup and manage ad campaigns on a more professional level.  If you are not sure how this works, it’s probably best to speak to your local marketing or Facebook advertising agency to manage this on your behalf.

As this is a brand new feature, it remains to be seen as to how effective it will be.   Not everyone has location based services switched on and your local town location may be still too fuzzy as a location marker, especially in a city such as London.  But undoubtedly, this geolocation technology will get ever more accurate over time.   The biggest businesses are already using more sophisticated mobile phone tracking technologies to track customers as they enter a store location.  Just check out this blog post to see where Geo Location technology currently stands: How Advertisers Track You On Your Mobile Phone

The success of Facebook ads is still very dependent on the creative or marketing approach used.  Some research indicates that offers are the best way to go when using Facebook ads to promote a local, high street business.  However, that all depends on the brand’s positioning and the amount businesses can potentially discount over time.    When using discounts it’s always important to weigh them against the potential lifetime value of a customer.  If you’re a business that has a strong case for developing regular repeat purchases then this new advertising model may be well worth trying.

Are you thinking of using this new format for your local business in 2015?  For more advice on rolling out a ‘Local Awareness’ Facebook advertising campaign, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to explain more.