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Facebook Expands Local Data Partnership with Factual — Why?

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Factual announced that it had expanded its location data partnership with Facebook. There are two components: 1) expanded international scope and 2) access to its Crosswalk offering. The relationship has been in place for roughly two years.

“It’s a nice vote of confidence in Factual’s data quality,” said Bill Michaels SVP of product and partnerships.

The data is used “to support Facebook business pages, places search, check-ins, and more.” It now covers “more than 100 million places across 52 countries.” As indicated, the expanded partnership gives Facebook access to Factual’s Crosswalk offering, which maps real-world business locations, venues and landmarks to online URLs.

How is Facebook using location and location data? Facebook now has a range of offerings. Here’s a partial list:

  • Nearby Places in the mobile app (buried)
  • Limited local search through the main search box (more expansive in mobile)
  • Professional and business services search on the PC site
  • Local events discovery (app)
  • Local classifieds (Facebook Marketplace)
  • Facebook Jobs

Significantly, location data can and is likely being used on the marketing side for targeting and attribution. Even though Facebook has first party location data from its mobile app, individuals need to be “located” at or near places for context. Being at a specific point in space is meaningless without understanding where or what that point is: a store, an airport, a residence, a park, a hotel.

The paradox here is that even as Facebook focuses most of its attention on mobile and beefs up location data and related content, local search and discovery capabilities remain mostly buried on the site and in the app. Why? Facebook is so focused on the SMB market, why not make it easy for consumers/buyers to find them?

Facebook appears to be holding back from either creating a more powerful consumer-facing local search experience within the current mobile app or creating a new dedicated Places app — which I’ve been anticipating for over five years but has not materialized.

Maybe it’s not going to happen. What are your theories? I’m curious.

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