Facebook began rolling out a new feature this week that gives local (to you) advertisers the opportunity to target users based on how close they have been to their physical location. This means that as you travel around your city, an add could pop up in your Facebook feed for that coffee shop across the way (though it may also be visible some time later). This hyper-local functionality may scare some people as much as it excites would-be advertisers. Truth be told, my opinion is torn; if I have to look at advertising anyway, I’d almost prefer that it was as relevant as possible.
If the feature works as intended, smaller businesses should see a larger reward from placing ads on Facebook; though it would be difficult to accurately measure conversion if you are walking through a door instead of clicking through. This may not be the goal anyway: local ads may be more about raising awareness than expecting to generate sales directly.
Don’t forget that Facebook is already using your browsing history to generate advertising traffic, so this results in a double whammy (with twice the reward as well)… I can sense that I’m going to be aggressively targeted by coffee shops and anywhere that sells craft supplies. Consider also that this functionality should work no matter where you are; it may not be helpful to know there is an Italian restaurant around the corner in your neighbourhood, but it may be seen as incredibly handy while on vacation.
How do you feel about Facebook using your location information in this way? Do you agree with their viewpoint that seeing an ad for a business you are physically right beside might encourage you to go inside when you otherwise wouldn’t have?