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Facebook To Connect Local Awareness Ads To In-Store Attribution

With the launch of the Facebook Store Visits metric in Local Awareness Ads reporting, advertisers now have a better idea of if geo-targeting is working.

Facebook’s local business marketing clients now have a way to determine whether location-targeted ads are driving in-store purchases and phone calls from interested consumers.

The social network’s rollout of its Offline Conversions API allows businesses to match transaction data from their customer database or point-of-sale system to Facebook’s Ads Reporting function. The promise to deliver clearer insights on the ad effectiveness is part of the company’s two-year effort to drive more offline business from SMBs and larger enterprises and branded chains.

The addition of this new tool fills a large hole in satisfying the demands of brick-and-mortar businesses, which have adopted social media media marketing and location-based mobile ad targeting to generate consumer data and offline sales.

As Facebook points out in a blog post, while people use mobile in 45 percent of all shopping journeys, the majority of sales still happen in brick-and-mortar businesses. In fact, more than 90 percent of retail sales take place in-store.

Over the past two years, all major location-based marketing platforms have stepped up their bid to prove whether their online ads produced offline store visits and sales, mostly by expanding beyond mobile into other mediums.

Recent examples include:

  • Foursquare’s expansion of its location-based analytics with a product dubbed, fittingly enough, Attribution.
  • Geo-data specialist PlaceIQ began staking out its position beyond mobile last year in a partnership with Publicis Groupe and offline consumer data company
  • In-store metrics provider Placed began extending its Cross Device Marketplace to include mobile connections with out-of-home ads to also demonstrate in-store ad effectiveness.
  • Mobile analytics platform NinthDecimal moved beyond the smartphone by integrating its data with TiVo Research’s interactive TV viewership metrics to show retailers whether or not cross-screen ads drove customers into their places of business.

“Facebook’s move is validation of what brands are asking for: a true way to quantify the impact of advertising on in-store visitation, and subsequent sales,”  Duncan McCall, CEO at PlaceIQ, told GeoMarketing. “They have the scale to provide a massive amount of data to brands, focused on how different ads perform.

“As the first company to develop a metric for foot traffic measurement more than five years ago, called Place Visit Rate, we’ve seen brands use this type of attribution to fuel many types of media and business decisions,” McCall continued. “The true potential for brands moving forward however, is the ability to gauge how advertising on Facebook’s massive social network can tie together with other channels, to create a unified understanding of consumer behavior.”

Facebook Finds Your Store

While Facebook has broadened its location analytics capabilities with geo-data analyst Factual over the past several months, its in-store attribution program is based largely on its partnerships with point-of-sale providers. Businesses using point-of-sale systems can get the attribution data from those providers, which include IBM, Index, Invoca, Lightspeed, LiveRamp, Marketo, and Square, or with Facebook directly.

Advertisers can use the Offline Conversions API to:

  • See real-time results as transactions occur in-store and over the phone
  • Gain demographic insights about people who purchase
  • Optimize future campaigns

“Local awareness ads aim to bring people to your business, whether you have a single store or thousands of locations,” Facebook says. “The ads show people the stores nearest to them and offer relevant call-to-actions like Get Directions,’ making it easy for people to shop the store most convenient to them.”

Last year, Facebook added features that let businesses with multiple locations to create ads for every store on-the-fly within a single campaign. Alongside the attribution features with its point-of-sale launching a native store locator to help people find and navigate to the nearest store location, all within the ad format.

As a consumer-facing app first and foremost, if the social network’s 1.59 billion monthly users feel the store locator function on a business’s website is too frustrating to find on mobile, Facebook is also addressing that issue. To make it less cumbersome to connect with a local business, which typically requires several taps on a Facebook page or typing a postal code into a small form,  the new store locator removes that friction to help people on mobile find business locations quickly and easily.

Now, the store locator, which is available to local marketers, shows a map of all the locations a business has nearby. People can click on the map in the ad to see information about nearby locations.

Facebook’s Digital Presence Management

And in a clear nod to the importance of maintaining a clear digital presence, without leaving the ad or the Facebook app, consumers can view the address, hours, phone number, website and estimated travel time for each store.

Facebook hasn’t offered many stats on how well its attribution and store locator tools are working. Advertisers who have tested those functions within the Local Awareness Ads include E.Leclerc, M&S, Petco, Burger King UK and Cadillac.

It did present one example: French retailer E.Leclerc was able to reach 1.5 million people within 10 kilometers of their stores and found that approximately 12 percent of clicks on their ad were followed by a visit to store within seven days. But one answer was left out: how many of those walk-ins actually bought an advertised product?

It has time to come up with that answer, as Facebook plans to complete the attribution process globally over the next several months.