Already alarmed by how well Facebook’s adverts seem to know you? They are about to get even more specific.
The social media company is rolling out two new ad products aimed squarely at small businesses who have typically been reluctant to fork out for prime placement on the site.
The first allows small businesses which have multiple locations to target their adverts based on where their customers actually are: for instance, Facebook says, “a cafe with multiple locations … could choose to automatically populate the city name in their ad copy, depending on where the people seeing the ad are. So, people in Glasgow would see ‘join us for lunch in Glasgow’, while people in Bristol would see ‘join us for lunch in Bristol’.”
The feature is an update to what the company calls “local awareness ads”, which let businesses target users when they check the site within a certain distance from their store. Those ads were introduced in 2014, but haven’t been customisable to multiple locations until now.
The second, meanwhile, will be invisible to users – at least at first. It allows for businesses to find out demographics of all the people (or, at least, Facebook users) who have passed through their area – ideally to allow them to better target adverts to potential visitors. That information includes standard advertising metrics like age and gender, but also facts like the proportion of people passing who are local residents versus tourists. The feature also lets businesses link (in aggregate) the people who have seen their ads to the people actually passing the store, so they can discover how well-targeted their adverts actually are.
The local awareness ads are already live, but the latter feature – “local insights” – is currently rolling out to pages in the US, says Facebook.
In its quarterly earnings, filed on Wednesday, Facebook revealed that an average of 1.1 billion users visit the site every day. And many of them did so on the move, with the company attributing 78% of its $4.29bn advertising revenue to mobile. All revenue across the business amounted to $3.2bn during the third quarter of 2014; this quarter, mobile ads alone accounted for $3.35bn.
The numbers are all the more impressive given that Facebook altered its definition of “active users” over the quarter to remove the millions of people who only interacted with the site through third-party sites.
Previously, a user who had only “used” Facebook by, say, clicking “share” on Guardian articles would have been counted as a daily or monthly active user. Now, users have to visit the site, or use one of its mobile apps, in order to count. Despite that, its monthly active users rose by 60 million over the quarter.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 6th November 2015 10.05 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010