Facebook Offers New “Local Insights” Tool for SMBs (and Brands)

Facebook introduced two location related products yesterday. One is an ad product: an extension of Local Awareness Ads that dynamically inserts relevant location information into ads for companies with five or more places of business that have set up local Pages. It operates like Google location extensions.

The other announcement is a nearby analytics tool called “Local Insights” that shows small business owners (or brands) foot traffic around their stores. Interestingly it doesn’t try to track in-store visits but shows traffic patterns of Facebook users around a business location — some of whom of course may come in and buy something.

This latter tool is free and can be used in conjunction with the new ad localization or by individual SMBs who are not advertisers.

In the case of Local Awareness Ads, hypothetically, Home Depot (my example) could now run a campaign on Facebook with customization for each store location. The company could use national promotion or national ad copy: “Hey [city] make the most of July 4th weekend.” Facebook would then insert the appropriate location information for each user dynamically.

For example, a user in LA would see “Hey Los Angeles . . .” while someone in Denver would see “Hey Denver . . .” Facebook also says that “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 value for both consumers and multi-location brands and marketers is obvious. The context in which this will play out is mobile, where most of Facebook’s ad revenue (78%) is coming from. Localized ads perform better and are seen as more relevant. Considerable, existing data establishes this.

Local Insights Main Shot[1][1]

The screenshot immediately above is an example of what a business owner or marketer will see with the “Local Insights” tool, which shows foot traffic patterns around stores. Local Insights can be used as a stand-alone analytics tool or in connection with Local Awareness Ads.

The tool doesn’t show what’s happening in real time but will reflect time of day, day of week movement around business locations. Interestingly Google Maps is showing similar information to consumers now to help them plan visits to, say, museums.

Local Insights also provides some basic demographic information:

[Marketers] can see aggregate demographics of the people nearby, including age, gender, tourist and local residents. So, if their business serves tourists or people of a certain age group, they know when they have the best opportunity to connect with those people. Insights of this kind empower businesses to tailor their marketing to the people nearby and drive more people to their store.

While this is useful to non-advertisers, it becomes more powerful if used in connection with Local Awareness Ads. Marketers will then be able to have a sense of how many people nearby saw an ad campaign and starts, in a basic way, to connect online and offline. The lower right corner module in the screen above reflects that data.

Simply being able to report offline/real-world data (nearby users) is powerful for SMBs and will make them more likely to engage and potentially advertise with Facebook. But the ability to show what percentage of nearby users saw an ad campaign starts to deliver critical online-to-offline (O2O) ad-performance information to small advertisers (and national multi-location brands). There are various other companies seeking to do similar things with differing methodologies.

Other companies that serve small business advertisers will need to start considering how to do a version of O2O. Because, as we observed at our recent LSA Bootcamp in Portland, many SMBs want more “concrete” evidence that their marketing dollars are “working.”

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