Facebook will now track what shops you visit offline to target you with ads online

Most Facebook users will have an idea about how its targeted advertising works – you look in an online shop for a certain item, and minutes later an advert for that very item pops up on your screen.

Facebook will now track what shops you visit offline to target you with ads online

Now Facebook plans to start tracking the shops you visit in real life, too.

Facebook has brought in new tools for advertisers that will tell businesses whether you’ve been to one of their real-life shops – if you share your location services with the app, that is. People who have not been to a specific shop might also get an advert, but this would be targeted at new customers, Facebook explains.

 “Select businesses that are eligible for store visits reporting can now also create custom audiences made up of people who have recently visited their store,” Facebook said in a blog post.

Some of the companies already involved in this are US department store, Macy’s and fast food shop KFC.

“We recently partnered with Facebook to activate their offline conversions solution to drive in-store sales,” said Tessa Kavanaugh, director of social and emerging platforms at Macy’s. “We are encouraged by the positive results we saw in-store and are excited to continue testing Facebook’s offline suite to fuel our growth.”

Facebook is not the first tech company to track the whereabouts of its customers offline in this way. Google’s Store Sales Measurement scheme allows the tech giant to track customer credit-card transactions – both online and within brick-and-mortar shops.

The idea is Google can use this information to better determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns. A leading privacy rights group, however, is calling on the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Google, alleging the company is gaining access to this information in a bid to bind customer online behaviour to offline shopping habits. 

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