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Facebook taps GPS, Square to track your in-store visits and purchases

TechCrunch TechCrunch 14/06/2016 Josh Constine

Facebook has found the holy grail of advertising in a set of new partnerships with point-of-sale systems like Square and Marketo that will prove who bought what after seeing Facebook’s ads. Even if you don’t buy something, Facebook will also now know you visited a store based on a new feature that matches GPS, beacons, WiFi, radio signals, and cell towers with brick-and-mortar coordinates.

This data could get advertisers to spend a lot more on Facebook because it will be able to demonstrate exactly how ad views led to in-store purchases and foot traffic.

Until now, advertisers had to vaguely correlate sales increases with local ad buys. Even Facebook’s partnerships with offline purchase data providers like Datalogix didn’t produce nearly as precise data. But this new Offline Conversions API lets Facebook jack directly into cash registers and ecommerce sales software to pull real-time results about transactions both in-store and online, plus demographic insights to improve future ad campaigns.

To fuel ad buys seeking foot traffic. Facebook also has a new Store Locator ad unit. It can show a business’ nearby brick-and-mortar locations at the end of an ad carousel and let people “Get Directions”. Instead of having to leave Facebook to visit an unfamiliar website’s store locator, users can view the address, hours, phone number, website and estimated travel time for each store without exiting the social network.

Maz Sharafi, Facebook’s Director of Monetization Product Marketing tells me “When you think back to the beginning of online advertising, this is what advertisers have been waiting for.” Advertisers can partner with IBM, Index, Invoca, Lightspeed, LiveRamp, Marketo, and Square to get offline conversion data through the API, or work with Facebook directly.

Ad buyers agree. Argentinean electronics retailer Fravega’s digital marketing manager Mariano Tordo writes that “At Fravega we were able to prove that for every dollar of eCommerce revenue we were generating from Facebook Ads, we were actually getting an additional $2.20 in our brick and mortar stores. With this new solution we were able to optimize our investment and increase spending with confidence.”

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