Facebook is finally embracing location-based advertising. In response to consumer feedback, Facebook announced language and location targeting for its advertisers yesterday.
I’ve been waiting for Facebook to embrace location for some time now. I was looking at it from an end user perspective, in essence wondering why Facebook’s mobile platform didn’t take advantage of the geolocation technologies embedded in most smartphones and mid-range handsets today. My thinking has always been that if Facebook ever did add a location component to its mobile social network, several of the key LBS competitors such as Loopt and Whrrl would be in big trouble. Essentially overrun by Facebook’s 175 million-and-growing active user base. In this case, Facebook is turning to location from an advertising perspective. But what this means is that Facebook is taking location seriously, and that it has the means to add geolocation to its platform whenever it wants.
The location targeting feature allows advertisers to target ads within a certain mile radius of the target location. Initially the service will only be available in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom; and with radius choices of 10, 25, and 50 miles from the target city. This doesn’t sound like much, but if you think of targeting an ad at a huge metropolitan location–Facebook uses Miami as an example–specifying a city name will only aim the ad at Miami, rather than all the suburbs and surrounding cities that most people include when thinking of Miami. In highly populated cities, this allows advertisers to reach many more people with effectively targeted ads.
This is just a natural extension of local advertising. The language targeting filter lets you target people speaking a given language in a certain area. When you type in the language and location using the filter, you’ll also be returned the size of the target population. For example, input Spanish language speakers in the United States and you’ll find a target population of nearly 1.1 million.
Currently Facebook is offered in 40 languages and 60 more are in development. Judging by these numbers alone you can see how this could expand the reach and effectiveness of an ad.
A Geolocal Facebook
So the question remains: will Facebook integrate location into its social networking platform? That remains to be seen. It may not have too. But one thing is for sure–expect to see Facebook begin offering hyperlocal mobile ads sometime in the future.