Facebook Is Helping Merchants Connect The Dots Between Online Ads And Offline Shopping

Facebook is now helping merchants track how ads they see online on the social media platform are affecting their real world shopping habits.

A new feature rolling out will allow advertisers to place an interactive map of brick-and-mortar locations with their ad carousels. Ad carousels, for those who haven't noticed them, are slideshow-like promoted posts that users can swipe through.

Those interactive maps make it possible for Facebook to track whether people who look at these ads then go on to visit the stores they saw and feed that data back to the original advertiser.

That ability, of course, hinges on users giving Facebook permission to track their location; without that setting activated in Facebook mobile, the feature does not work.

But more than being able to tell if a customer visited a store they saw, Facebook can follow them all the way through payments and purchases. The final piece of the new service package is an API that will let merchants match their in-store purchase data to Facebook's advertising tools.

Online sales account for 8–12 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. (depending on whose numbers you like). The rest of the nation's shopping is done in stores, and physical shopping is particularly hard to correlate with online advertising efforts.

Physical shopping has long been a blind spot in determining the effectiveness of online ads, which explains the recent rush among some of the web's biggest mobile and digital advertising platforms to find better methods. Google rolled out a similar ad product last month that lets users search store inventories and companies promote their store locations on its Maps feature. Pinterest has also recently announced a collaboration with Oracle to make similar kinds of tracking a possibility.



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