You may recall that last month I wrote http://www.jeffhasen.com/blog/2014/9/29/assessing-a-forecast-of-slow-mobile-advertising-use-by-smbs about a forecast by BIA/Kelsey that it will take until 2019 for mobile to be a “big player in the local advertising space.”
What has caught my eye since is a statistic from Borrell Associates that says that “37% of SMBs claim that print newspaper ads are the best source for attracting customers”.
Notice that Borrell phrased this as SMBs “claim” rather than these businesses actually see those type of results from print advertising. Regardless, if that perception is there, it makes the 2019 prediction that I considered pessimistic that much more possible.
Something else has happened since my September post. Facebook introduced a new ad category principally targeting small businesses: local awareness ads.
Facebook is marketing the initiative as a way for SMBs to “create ads that will reach your local audience at the lowest possible cost.”
It works this way:
Businesses choose an area around their business, then select a photo and headline within the Ads Create tool. SMBs can pick an area as small as one mile and get guidance from Facebook based on its physical location. The budget determines the maximum amount of people that will see the ad. There are no contracts or minimum spend requirements.
Once the ad is approved, it will start showing in customers’ News Feed.
Whether a significant number of the more than 30 million Facebook Local Pages owners go this route remains to be seen.
Another large question is whether a business’ consumer will turn on location services within their mobile device settings. Some don’t because they are unaware, while others opt out of this scenario due to privacy concerns.
“Local awareness ads were built with privacy in mind,” Facebook said in a blog post https://www.facebook.com/business/a/local-awareness. “Advertisers select locations, not specific individuals, for local awareness ads. Facebook does not tell advertisers which specific people are in any audience and, as with our other advertising products, all audiences must meet a minimum required size. People have control over the recent location information they share with Facebook and will only see ads based on their recent location if location services are enabled on their phone.”
The way I see it, the fate of this program will be determined by whether consumers see value in the ads, and act accordingly – visit a business, try a new product, redeem a coupon, etc.
Also, Facebook needs to be responsible, ensuring that the location information is used in ways that the consumers can trust.
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