Just In Time for the Holidays: Facebook Ads Go Retail

facebook adsWe’ve officially entered fall, which means it’s time for marketers to start considering their holiday marketing strategies. Whether you’re planning to run a big sale for Black Friday or the pre-Christmas shopping season, planning early can help you get ahead and have a solid strategy in place by the time consumers are looking for products like yours.

Facebook recognizes that fact, and just rolled out a new feature that will make retailers who don’t only sell their products online rejoice. In its latest piece of social media marketing news, the world’s biggest social media network announced it would roll out a new ad format that allows advertisers to dynamically show in-store availability of relevant product.

The Continuing Dominance of In-Store Sales

For some, Facebook’s emphasis on in-store sales may be an odd fit for a digital network. But in reality, the company is reacting to the fact that especially around the holidays, physical sales far outpace e-commerce alternatives for most consumers. One study, for example, found that while digital sales continue to rise, they still account for less than 10% of overall sales activity in the United States.

For digital advertising platforms like Facebook, that fact has remained a significant challenge. E-commerce merchants can easily advertise their products and track conversions from their Facebook ads. Brick and mortar retailers, however, who make up a far larger piece of the retail pie, have been turned off by less reliable metrics.

Easing the Online to Store Transition

Given the above conflict, it’s no surprise that Facebook is seeking to ease the transition from a consumer seeing an online ad to going to the store and actually buying the product. As the company’s director of monetization product marketing Maz Sharafi put it,

For us solving for this mobile-to-store challenge is one of the biggest and most important opportunities for us to be spending our mindshare on.

That transition, for Facebook, is two-fold: targeting ads more specifically to users who are likely to visit physical stores, and making sure that the content of these ads actually reflects an enticing reason to visit a store and buy a product.

How Facebook’s New Ad Possibilities Play Into the Transition

Not surprisingly, these two factors – targeting and messaging – are the focus of Facebook’s new ad format. The new targeting method takes decision-making power of which audience group should see the message away from marketers, instead using the data of mobile users who are close to a physical store. Marketers can still determine the desired targeting radius along with a total number of consumers to be reached.

The ads themselves are an adjusted version of Facebook’s existing dynamic ads. As Marketing Land details,

Like the Dynamic Ads, which online retailers use to highlight specific products on their sites, retailers can use the real-world version to showcase, within a slideshow-like product carousel, what’s available in their nearby stores, as well as the distance to the nearest store and store-specific prices, which can change from one location to another.

The apps can even include maps and directions on how to get to the store, further easing the transition from seeing an ad online to visiting the actual retail location. To keep product information accurate, Facebook requires retailers using the ad format to update their product inventory at least once every 24 hours.

Large-scale retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch were the first to test this ad format, but global availability is imminent. Just in time for the holiday season, you can begin to plan to add this new ad and targeting format into your social media marketing strategy.

Are you looking for ways to maximize the effectiveness of your social media efforts? Whether you are looking to promote your e-commerce or in-store sales, we’d love to help. Contact us today to learn more about using social media effectively to reach and convert your target audience.