Facebook Live Location: What it Means for Offline Attribution

Offline attribution continues to be a hot topic amongst local marketers: everyone is reaching for it but how close are we really to achieving it? Mohannad El-Barachi from SweetIQ discusses recent technology developments and how they are pushing local further in his monthly LSA Insider column.

Last week Facebook released their Live Location feature, letting friends and family track where a user is through messenger – provided they’ve turned the feature on. Live Location can only be turned on for an hour at a time at which point the user’s location will cease being shared, but there are no limits on how many times in a row you can turn it back on.

I’m going to guess that those of you reading LSA’s blog have some sort of stake in local marketing and are well aware of the fact that location is an integral piece to the online/offline attribution puzzle. Location gives context to all of the online interactions that signify consumer intent and how it’s affecting a business’s bottom line. Sure it’s important to track how many times a user clicked to get directions to a location, but if we as marketers could then actually see if that user followed those directions or drove to a competitor it makes all the difference.

Facebook’s “Live Location” feature is a further attempt at bridging this gap, while simultaneously nudging the consumer in the direction of giving their consent to be tracked. In order for the feature to be successful and widely adopted, Facebook has to offer the user something in return. Facebook claims Live Location makes it easier to coordinate meet ups with friends and family in messenger by sharing your location with them.

This isn’t the only tactic Facebook is deploying to solve offline attribution. In June they released Ad Metrics reporting that would allow businesses to “better understand” traffic to their locations after running a local awareness ad.

This all sounds well and great but has a few big flaws: you’re only capturing metrics from one ad source (Facebook) and not even 100% of that ad source; users have to opt in to being tracked, so it’s likely that a business is still going to be missing quite a bit of data. Facebook’s “Live Location” feature inches users towards sharing a little bit more of their data.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only one trying to encourage users to share their location. Yelp’s “Questions and Answers” feature and Google’s “Lists” feature are all examples of how the big players are racing against each other to create a seamless digital environment in which users first show intent, then actually make it to your location and purchase items – all while having given their consent to being tracked.

It will be interesting to see how successful Live Location is and how many users actually agree to share their location information. As social platforms make it easier and more appealing to share location with friends and family, it will open the door to users becoming more comfortable sharing their location with businesses, but it will be crucial that they receive something in return to make it worth their while.

I’m not 100% convinced that Live Location will be widely adopted or that Facebook is going to convince it’s user base that this new feature is integral to their communications, but only time will tell.

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