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The Latest from Facebook for Small Businesses

Do you ever get the feeling that you are being watched? That feeling may be justified. Facebook has recently launched a new way for businesses to advertise which targets users based on their current location. The new advertising category is called Local Awareness Ads.

What are Local Awareness Ads?

As the name suggests, this allows marketers to reach users who are physically nearby. The idea is that if a user is on Facebook, they will receive ads in their newsfeed for businesses that are close by, thus leading to more foot traffic. Although these ads do show up on home computers, the mobile market is the most strongly targeted, as Facebook has over 1 billion mobile users. Marketers can choose to limit their geographic reach to as little as a one mile radius from their business. Users are targeted based on age and gender, making this form of targeting relatively precise.

How to Create a Campaign

According to Facebook, setting up a campaign is simple; marketers set their budget, the duration of their campaign, their location and target parameters, and upload a picture. Based on their settings, Facebook then shows them how many people they can expect to reach. This has led to very positive reactions from small business owners, as this presents a precise way to reach consumers and works with any budget.

Possible Shortcomings

While the benefits to businesses are more obvious, Facebook has said that this form of targeting can also be beneficial to users, as it shows them potential places of interest. However, with the recent launch, users and businesses have found shortcomings. Some of these include:

  • The inability to target users based on other demographics besides age and gender. While this might be a possibility in the future, right now the target parameters are very basic.
  • The ads only work if the user has enabled their location-services. As many as 1/3 of all mobile Facebook users have this feature disabled.
  • Local Awareness Ads do not operate in real time. They work based on where a user has been recently, and that is not necessarily near where they live or where they frequent.

Local Awareness Ads launched in the US on October 7, 2014, and will continue to spread world-wide in the coming months. Even with its shortcomings, Local Awareness Ads have received quite a bit of hype in the small business community. What do you think of Local Awareness Ads—are they worth the hype?

Chris Macomber   |   

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