Facebook Targets SMEs with ‘Local Awareness Ads’

08 October 2014

Brands with Facebook Pages will have noticed a recent increase in prompts to start creating PPC ads on the platform. Pop-ups and notifications encouraging the take-up of promoted content and Page advertisements are appearing on Pages that have never used paid advertising before, with Facebook seemingly keen on getting all its business Page users set up with PPC accounts.

Of course, as advertising is the site’s means of earning cash, Facebook’s reasoning is sound, but many businesses that don’t have dedicated digital marketing teams have, until now, felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the process of setting up an ad campaign on the network. The overwhelming number of options available and the sometimes-complicated way things are explained has meant that many SMEs avoid paid-for Facebook ads, finding them inaccessible and believing they are not something that a smaller brand, business or website can really take advantage of.

To try to break down the barriers perceived by SMEs, Facebook is introducing Local Awareness Ads, a user-friendly and simple way of setting up paid-for advertisements that specifically target people within a particular local area.

Facebook is understandably keen to shake off the perception that running PPC ads requires – as a minimum - a PhD in Spreadsheetology and a Professorship in Advanced Maths, so the prompts that are currently being seen by business Page owners seem to be making an extra effort to sound like a realistic prospect for any marketer or brand owner with no previous experience in detailed PPC and Analytics.

Rather than needing to make decisions about detailed demographic statistics, Local Awareness Ads start with a map, with your business at its centre. Then, there is an area of coverage superimposed over the top to represent just how far, geographically, from your premises you want to promote your business or Facebook Page.

More demographics can be taken into account if appropriate, such as age and gender, and the ads can include call to action buttons, such as ‘Get Directions’ to help to guide a customer to a store.

The page produced by Facebook to promote Local Awareness Ads also seems to be focused on downplaying the technical and analytical side of advertising on the site, keeping the explanation as simple as possible, avoiding industry lingo, and focusing on benefits and usability.

Facebook presents a four-step plan to explain how the process will work, which, again, avoids intimidating or confusing language:

  1. Audience: Reach drives sales
  2. Budget: Your budget determines how many people will see your ad
  3. Images: Choose a great photo
  4. Text and links: Create an engaging message.

Local Awareness Ads will also be available to existing advertisers and to larger, corporate purchasers of Facebook ads. However, the way they have been introduced and explained, alongside the atmosphere on the site - where business Page owners are seeing more and more prompts to take out paid ads - suggests that the motivation behind this move is about persuading smaller businesses to engage with the Facebook advertising process, and overcome whatever barriers or obstacles had previously been in their way.