Facebook Announces “Local Awareness Ads” For SMBs
New ad units allow for targeting by geographic radius.
Facebook introduced a new ad category principally targeting small businesses: local awareness ads. These ads can appear on desktop or mobile; but, they’re really focused on mobile users. It’s essentially mobile geofencing.
Larger or more sophisticated advertisers can also access these ad units via API.
In the SMB context, business owners use the company’s Ads Create tool and select “local awareness” ads from the list. The flow then follows previous ad unit creation. The ads also feature “get directions” if desired by the business.
Marketers select the targeting radius. However, it’s not clear if there’s any guidance on distance.
Users control location services on their own phones. So, for example, if iPhone users have turned off location services for Facebook (“never”) they won’t see these ads.
A recent Gannett G/O Digital study found that for local businesses, Offer Ads beat other categories (e.g., promoted posts) by a significant margin in terms of effectiveness. That same study, involving 1,000 U.S. consumers, found that the majority of respondents visited local Facebook Pages and looked at reviews before buying offline.
Accordingly, the Gannett study argues that Local Awareness Ads should feature an attractive offer to boost their impact.
As Facebook tries to encourage more of its 30 million Local Pages owners to become Facebook advertisers, it has to simplify the ad-creation process. It also has to make the value and targeting of those ads more transparent. Local Awareness Ads will clearly help the company as it seeks to accomplish those goals.
They will also be used, however, by third-parties creating and managing ad campaigns on behalf of SMBs. And those intermediaries may be the biggest and most immediate beneficiaries of this new location-targeted ad unit.
Postscript: I was informed by Facebook that the company does provide a suggested targeting radius based on the business location’s street address.