Facebook will start tracking users' visits to shops to see if adverts have an effect on their shopping habits. The company will use location services on users' phones to see if Facebook adverts lead to in-store visits for retailers.
The new Local Awareness adverts show Facebook users the shops that are close to them along with relevant info like opening hours, contact details and directions. The ads have been developed to help mobile users get the relevant information about a shop without having to leave the ad page and navigate through the browser to get the information they need, which Facebook said could be "frustrating" for people using a smartphone.
The ads also include a new metric for retailers that allows them to measure the impact their adverts have on visits to brick-and-mortar stores. While it doesn't track individual user data, Local Awareness does allow advertisers to see how many people came to their shop after seeing an advert on Facebook, which in turn allows them to see what works and optimise their campaigns accordingly. Facebook can only use tracking data from users who have location services enabled on their device.
Marks and Spencer, Burger King UK, Cadillac and French hypermarket chain E.Leclerc are some of the companies that have been using Facebook's Local Awareness adverts. Facebook claimed that E.Leclerc was able to reach 1.5 million people within 10km of their shops using the new feature, and found that approximately 12% of clicks on their advert were followed by a visit to a shop within seven days.
The company said in a post on its Facebook for Business website: "Mobile is blurring the line between the physical and digital worlds, from how people discover things to how they find places to shop. People increasingly navigate through the world on mobile. While people use mobile in 45% of all shopping journeys, the majority of sales still occur in brick-and-mortar businesses. In fact, more than 90% of retail sales take place in store.
"A fundamental challenge for brick-and-mortar businesses today is measuring the impact of their advertising campaigns on shop visits and sales. Today, we're announcing new solutions for businesses to drive people to their shops and measure the amount of shop visits and in-store sales following their Facebook mobile advertising campaigns."
Local Awareness adverts will be rolled out to advertisers globally over the coming months.