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Facebook Plans to Use Your Location to Lure New Advertisers

Facebook will soon share info with advertisers on the types of people walking around their physical stores.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

More than 45 million businesses have Facebook Pages, but only 2.5 million pay Facebook for advertising. That means a lot of businesses understand the importance of being on Facebook, but aren’t yet convinced the ad dollars are worth it.

Facebook is trying to fix that. One idea: Give small businesses more targeted advertising and a better idea of who’s walking around their stores. Literally.

The company is rolling out two new ad products intended to attract small business advertisers. The first is a new tool that can tell business owners the demographic info for people in and around their physical store. Assuming you have location settings turned on within the app, Facebook already collects info on your location. Now it will share that info with advertisers — in bulk, so no individual users are identified — so they can learn about the foot traffic near their shops, like gender and age demographics.

The second is a new localized ad that lets businesses with multiple locations create different ads for each site. So a coffee chain could easily show one ad to people in Brooklyn and a separate one to users in Long Island.

Both features, while relatively incremental on their own, give a pretty good indication of how Facebook plans to grow its list of advertisers. The company is also thinking about in-store push notifications; it started handing out free beacons to retailers over the summer, although these new ad products aren’t related to that effort, according to Matt Idema, head of monetization product marketing at Facebook.

Still, you could see how they might complement each other down the road and encourage more small businesses to start handing Facebook their money. The new features are rolling out to a small group of U.S. retailers beginning Thursday.

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