It’s so easy to get caught up in click through rates, link conversions, analytics and campaign optimisation. But when in-store sales can make up to 95% of income, more and more retailers want to know – what technology do you have for my physical store?

Facebook may have an answer.

The social media giant announced recently that it will be rolling out its new product – dynamic product ads for bricks-and-mortar retail.

Dynamic product ads already exist; basically they allow you to create relevant ads on Facebook based on products that people have visited on your retail website. This new offering goes a step further – it will allow retailers to tweak their ads based on the customer’s location and what products are available in their nearest physical store.

What are dynamic ads for retail?

It all sounds great, but what does this mean for you? In a nutshell – more relevant ads served at the most beneficial time, driving actual footfall to retail stores.

Most consumers, even when physically browsing the High Street, will look to their phones to complement and supplement their buying choice information. When searching for information, customers expect the most relevant data to be available to them easily.

By integrating geolocation technology with product catalogues – already a feature of Facebook’s dynamic ads – consumers will be served ads which will be more targeted than ever before.

Facebook’s dynamic ads will be linked to local store catalogues, meaning that only products that are actually in-stock will be displayed. Similarly, only local events, discounts or promotions will show to consumers. Rather than trying to target segments, retailers will be able to connect directly with their ideal customers.

Connecting offline and online

Linking online and offline sales is not new – Google AdWords already does this – but nor is it easy. Shoppers are wary of geolocation technology that can come across as intrusive marketing. But when it’s done right, 80% of shoppers say that they would turn on location data if they think they will receive value. The combination of search history, location and product availability may just be the winner that retail stores are looking for.

Facebook product manager, Joe Devoy, says that Facebook is aiming to connect the experiences of offline and online. “We’re trying to build a bridge,” he says. Their own research suggests that 49% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital interactions. Bringing the two together is the next obvious step.

Dynamic ads for retail will build on Facebook’s other improvements over the past year, namely Store Visits and Local Awareness. Facebook says that improved geo-targeting will allow advertisers to be more granular than ever – we can argue about how much granularity is too much granularity, but there’s no denying that serving up ads to the right person at the right time is more cost-effective than a broadside. When retailers can opt-in or opt-out consumers based on their geolocation and preparedness to buy, that automatically translates to a better ROI.

Analytics

To provide rich analytics data, dynamic ads integrate with Facebook’s Offline Conversion API and Shop Visits. Shop Visits isn’t currently available to all retailers, and is an estimated metric based on location services provided by phones for people who have location services turned on. But working with these various data sets together, retailers may be able to finally analyse how their digital advertising converts to physical purchases.

The future

Facebook is behind the game in this instance, but their history shows that they are likely to be a big player in the geolocation sales space. Google’s local inventory ads have been providing information-rich targeted ads across maps and search for a while now. The proof for Facebook will be in finding out if consumers are more likely to click through a product on Google’s suite of products – including search, which feels ‘native’ – or if they trust Facebook more. The smart money? Hedge your bets.

Facebook’s new offering for bricks and mortar stores
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