Facebook is about to offer up a more insightful set of data on how your local ads perform. By teaming up with the likes of IMB, Marketo and others, the network will be able to link store visits and product sales directly to ads users have seen and engaged with.

It’s a massive step towards bridging the gap between online ads and offline sales. Not to mention another set of features that could see advertisers investing more in Facebook ads – potentially at the expense of AdWords.

 

Stronger links between ads, store visits and product sales

The new data set is an extension on Facebook’s existing location features. Except now the network can track local ads shown to users, how they interact with them and link this to in-store visits using GPS, beacons, WiFi and various other signal types.

Since last year we’ve had a vague correlation between local ads and in-store visits, but nowhere near to this extent. Now you’ll be able to pinpoint precisely which ads were seen before a customer walks through the door. Equally important, you’ll be able to see which ads aren’t bringing customers to your store or engaging users.

 

Exciting year ahead for local businesses

The heavy emphasis on location in these new features add to what already looks like an exciting year for local advertisers. Google recently announced a string of new location features  for AdWords and Google Maps at its latest summit. And now we have Facebook chipping in with its own expansion on local ads.

store-locator

It’s going to be interesting to see how ad spend between AdWords and Facebook changes over the next 12 months as their targeting and data features become increasingly similar. Facebook still has the disadvantage that users aren’t in shopping mode when they log in – not to mention Google is the first stop for most local searches. However, Facebook is proving to be an increasingly valuable tool for establishing that early connection between brands and users. The challenge for advertisers is to meet potential leads at each of these stages along the buying process and keep them involved with their brand until the time comes to buy.