Facebook Updates Local Awareness Ads As SMB Pages Exceed 45 Million

With only 2.5 million ‘active’ advertisers among businesses, Facebook is offering new incentives to draw out spending from local marketers.

FB's Mark Zuckerberg
FB’s Mark Zuckerberg

Even as Facebook’s ad revenue grew 45.4 percent to $4.30 billion in Q3, as reported in the social network’s earnings release on Wednesday, the company is rolling out two new products aimed at turning more small, local businesses into paying clients.

Among the highlights of Facebook’s Q3 was that there are 45 million SMB pages currently in use. Just a year after the introduction of Local Awareness Ads, which lets SMBs target the more than 1.55 billion people who use Facebook each month, Facebook has 2.5 million active advertisers.

Ad Services For SMBs

Those SMBs represent a significant area of growth, especially since more local businesses are continuing to shift their spending into social media and mobile, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during Wednesday’s analyst earnings call.

During the quarter, for example, mobile ads accounted for 78 percent of the total versus 66 percent in the same period last year. So, as Sandberg indicated, the time appears right for Facebook to continue to ramp up the focus on local businesses it began in earnest last year.

“With more than 45 million active SMB Pages on Facebook, we think there’s a lot of opportunity to turn even more of these businesses into marketers,” Sandberg told analysts. “Our results show that we continue to make progress on our three priorities: capitalizing on the shift to mobile, growing the number of marketers using our ad products and making our ads more relevant and effective.”

Calling on Local Awareness Ads
Calling on Local Awareness Ads

Managing Multiple Outlets, Plus Proximity Insights

The two new products Facebook is releasing promise to make it easier for businesses with multiple locations to create local ads for each store. The second one addresses SMBs’ demand for audience insights and metrics from the social net that’s designed to let businesses “see” what kinds of groups of consumers are near their stores.

Specifically, new updates to local awareness ads will allow businesses using Locationsfor Pages — a tool for connecting and managing business Pages with multiple store locations — to use information from each of their Pages to add dynamic ad copy that can be evaluated and updated on the fly. Businesses can also insert links and call-to-action buttons to their ads, so each ad is localized for its corresponding store, according to a Facebook blog post.

“For example, if a cafe with multiple locations in the Bay Area decides to run local awareness ads, they could choose to automatically populate the city name in their ad copy, depending on where the people seeing the ad are,” Facebook says. “So, people in Menlo Park would see ‘Join us for lunch in Menlo Park,’ while people in San Francisco would see ‘Join us for lunch in San Francisco.’”

The call-to-action buttons are also dynamic, so when someone clicks on the “Call Now” or “Get Directions” button, they’re connected to the store currently closest to them, an update that follow’s last month’s Pages’ improvements.

“This helps advertisers spend more efficiently, since they’re only connecting with people likely to visit the store and the information they share is hyperlocal and relevant,” Facebook notes.

Local Insights Part 2.5Facebook Marketers Get Their Local Group On

Page Insights, which provides businesses with analytics about digital consumers who check out their Facebook site, is being augmented with additional information about people who are passing by a brand’s physical store. Facebook is adding a new tab to Page Insights with information for local businesses that want to understand more about the groups of people near their shop.

“Local insights tell businesses the aggregate demographics and trends associated with the people nearby, so they can better understand and cater to the needs of the people in the area,” Facebook says, suggesting that businesses with a Facebook Place Page can discover the neighborhood’s busiest days of the week and times of day, so they know when people are most likely to visit their store.

The tab also provides a look into the demographics of the people passing by, including age and gender, as well as whether there are groups of tourists or local residents in their area.

“Additionally, local businesses who run ads have historically had a hard time figuring out if their ads are reaching the right people—the people near their store,” Facebook says. “Now, for the first time, advertisers can see the percentage of people nearby who have seen their ad, helping them understand how well their ads are reaching their potential customers. Over time, this new metric can also help advertisers draw a connection between reaching a larger percentage of people nearby and accomplishing the business outcomes they care about.”

Queuing Up Video Ads

Aside from the new offerings for local businesses on Thursday, Facebook is also continuing to look for ways to bring video advertising to marketers who previously have found it too expensive or complicated with the pitch of leveling the playing field with larger brands.

On average, there are now more than 8 billion daily video views on Facebook and more than 500 million people who are watching daily, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts during the Wednesday earnings call.

“We’ve also rolled out new video tools for pages and begun testing a dedicated video section on Facebook,” Zuckerberg said. “Over the next few years, video is going to be some of the most engaging content online, and by continuing to innovate here, we have a chance to build the best place to watch and share videos.”

FB's Sheryl Sandberg
FB’s Sheryl Sandberg

“We’re especially pleased with the breadth of marketers using video on Facebook, from brands to direct response to SMBs,” Sandberg added, noting that over 1.5 million small businesses posted video — including regular video posts and video ads — on Facebook in the month of September alone.

“Video ads complement TV ads. According to a recent study with Nielsen Research, marketers using Facebook ads with TV ads saw higher reach, ad recall, brand linkage and likeability,” Sandberg said. “To share one example, GMC used video and other ads on Facebook to extend the reach of their TV brand campaign highlighting their premium trucks and SUVs. The Facebook campaign drove a 13-point lift in ad recall and a 6-point lift in brand favorability.”

If Facebook can demonstrate similar results for smaller brands and local marketers, it just might increase those 2.5 million paying ad clients more quickly as investors and SMBs already anticipate how the social net will perform during the all-important holiday season that’s fast approaching.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.