New tools leverage location, provide insight into online-to-offline consumer behavior.
Facebook is launching two related products for local businesses. One is a free analytics tool called “Local Insights” that shows small business owners foot traffic around their stores. The other is an update to Local Awareness Ads that enables businesses with at least five locations to dynamically make their Facebook campaigns more locally relevant.
The latter capability allows brands and multi-location businesses to leverage the data already in their individual location Pages to dynamically feed business or store locations (and related data) into Local Awareness Ads. In the event it’s not immediately obvious, this provides a powerful reason to create location Pages if brands don’t already have them.
The obvious analogy is location and call extensions in AdWords. In its blog post, Facebook offers an example of how a business with multiple locations might use this new dynamic capability:
If a cafe with multiple locations in the Bay Area decides to run local awareness ads, they could choose to automatically populate the city name in their ad copy, depending on where the people seeing the ad are. So, people in Menlo Park would see “Join us for lunch in Menlo Park,” while people in San Francisco would see “Join us for lunch in San Francisco.” Call-to-action buttons are also dynamic, so when someone clicks on the “Call Now” or “Get Directions” button, they’re connected to the store currently closest to them.
The idea is to simplify ad creation for multi-location businesses, as well as make ads more locally relevant to users. Multiple studies and surveys have shown that location drives higher response rates and conversions than ads without location.
Most of those locally driven conversions will be offline, especially where mobile users are concerned. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, the vast majority of retail sales (93 percent) continue to happen in physical stores. In addition, nearly 80 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue now comes from mobile. The company’s most engaged users are also mobile.
The Local Insights tool is not directly tied to Local Awareness Ads. Businesses with a single location can use it to see who’s nearby and when. It will be especially valuable to multi-location marketers however. Facebook advertisers will start to be able to connect the dots between their online ads and foot traffic to their various store locations.
To access Local Insights business owners go to Page Insights, which now has a tab (above) that shows data about Facebook users nearby (though not in real-time). While the tool doesn’t track in-store visits, it will show “aggregate demographics and trends associated with the people nearby.”
Among other takeaways, there are operational insights that can come from this data. For example, marketers can learn more about what types of people are physically nearby and when. These insights have targeting, hours and staffing implications for marketers and business owners.
When combined with Local Awareness Ads, marketers can start to understand whether their ads are driving store visits and whether they are reaching targeted prospects.
Facebook stresses that Local Insights will only report data anonymously and only from people who have location services enabled for the Facebook app. There’s no personal information being captured or exposed.
Facebook says these Local Awareness Ad updates will be available via API and soon through Power Editor. Local Insights analytics are rolling out over the next few weeks.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)