Facebook’s Incredible Potential as an Offline Retail Tool

Could Facebook Ads Replace the Circular for Retailers?

By: Dave Williams Published: November 09, 2012

With more than a billion users, Facebook has become a powerhouse in display advertising, but some continue to question whether Facebook ads can drive offline purchases.
That’s starting to change, as studies have indicated that online posts can have a huge impact on consumer action away from the platform. This correlation, along with Facebook’s commitment to new and improved ad products, means that Facebook is about to become the primary marketing tool for retailers and their brand co-marketing partners.
The long-awaited online to offline correlation comes from a study that recently appeared in the journal Nature that found that a single message sent to 61 million Facebook users influenced 340,000 of them to vote when they otherwise would not have. During the run-up to the presidential election, we saw major candidates, political parties, and a slew of advocacy groups turn to Facebook in an effort to sway undecided voters and drive voters to the ballot box.
It also implies that Facebook can influence offline shopping behavior, too, which is great news for retailers. Physical stores still account for 93 percent of total sales, and circular ads have historically been retail’s biggest tool for bringing consumers into stores. Retailers have been looking for a digital way to drive foot traffic.
Several companies have successfully built cooperative marketing structures online. Companies such as OwnerIQ, for example, enable online retailers like Crutchfield to retarget people who visit the web sites of electronics manufacturers, offering the flatscreen TVs they were just studying — at a discount. When it comes to driving brick-and-mortar sales from online, though, Facebook appears to offer the best solution yet. CPG brands gladly pay for retail circulars to help sell their products, and there’s reason to believe they could buy Facebook advertising to drive consumers into retail locations.

One company with which we work, ShopLocal, puts a retailer’s circular content into a database, including images and all the sale prices and details. In so doing it makes local data portable and extendable, so retailers can build online-only pages of the circular, or utilize QR codes to generate more content than exists in the print world.
The future of retail involves bringing circular content into as many channels as possible in a seamless fashion, to maintain consistent messaging across all media, including mobile, video, digital out-of-home. If the retailers or their brand co-marketing partners import that data into Facebook, they could reach a much wider audience with more precise targeting than typical display.
Facebook offers insight into consumers’ interests. So an advertiser using ShopLocal’s services could show someone who Likes a particular brand of soap an ad showing the product on sale at a nearby retailer.
Facebook users not only respond to offers, they actually share them. According to the social network, three-fourths of the 100 most popular “offers” claimed were not from users who were initially targeted, but from someone who saw the offer after it was shared. The offers create more awareness when they are shared, and even better is that they work.

BLiNQ Media was recently able to demonstrate an online-to-offline push to an ice-cream store on a day that normally draws very little foot traffic. By asking these Facebook users to mention the coupon, we could measure how many had come because they saw an ad on the social network.
The Election Day study in Nature validated our anecdotal experience. Local-level targeting gives retailers a huge advantage, enabling mom-and-pop stores to compete with big-box chains.
Another key challenge of course is measurement, which ties us back to the examples mentioned before. The Election Day story took years of research, while the ice cream campaign involved a single coupon good at one particular store. It’s complex to measure the effects of extending multiple offers that are valid at many retail chains in different geographic regions. For Facebook to succeed at driving offline purchases, retailers must feel confident that digital ads lead to in-store sales.
Third-party solutions are popping up, and Facebook is working closely with partners such as Datalogix, which uses robust in-store retail data to prove that ads work and to determine the right frequency, duration, messaging, and targeting that will produce the optimal offline results.

Showing Facebook users customized ad experiences based on the right creative message, targeting, and frequency localized for the consumer clearly helps drive in-store sales, which is the ultimate goal of every retailer. Retailers can take the first step by viewing Facebook as an excellent place to distribute weekly circular offers, expanding their reach beyond newspapers to drive awareness on the desktop, mobile and offers shared by friends.

Dave Williams is the CEO of Blinq Media.



When Brooke partner AHTCS (Animal Health Training and Consultancy Service) set off on a survey of welfare standards at the brick kilns in Kathmandu valley, Nepal, they did not expect to find a group animals struggling for survival, enclosed and alone in an abandoned kiln. On the 12th of October the AHTCS team found 39 horses, donkeys and mules in dreadful conditions. All animals were in a desperate state, the mangers were empty, there was no trace of water, and fresh faeces showed signs that parasites were raging through their debilitated bodies. The extent of neglect was such that 4 of these animals still alive were simply unable to stand on their own – 17 of them had already died days, or even weeks before. The team leapt into action and promptly started medical treatment and care for the weak and debilitated animals. Usually at the end of the season these brick kiln mules would returned to their original home, transported via road. The cost of transportation is high, costing around 2000 NPR (£14) per animal. In this case, once the working season was over the owner of these poor mules left them with a carer who did not have the means or incentive to care for them as the animals don’t belong to him – and he has his own family to feed. Of the 39 animals that were found, 17 were discovered dead at the scene. The remaining 22 animals were hurriedly attended to by the team of vets. The team traced the owner to find a reason and understand what had lead to this awful case of neglect. He told the team remorsefully that he was in a financial crisis and because of that he reluctantly was unable to take his equines with him or even provide enough funds to feed them. These donkeys, horses and mules are now in the care of AHTCS and the Brooke and are being provided with emergency vet treatment, food, and clean water. This will continue until the brick kiln season starts again and the owner can once again earn enough money to care for his animals. Sadly this is a common fate for many Brick Kiln animals, it is no life for any living thing doing backbreaking work in extreme temperatures. However it is a reality that must be dealt with, and moving forward, we are looking to put in place some extra monitoring and training to ensure that and incident like this does not reoccur. We will update on the progress of these animals in a few weeks, as they start to recover.

— Emergency Situation in Nepal

The ‘I Think’ Syndrome Destroys Many a Campaign

It Doesn’t Matter If You Like an Idea, Will the Target Audience Like It?
By: Darryl Ohrt Published: October 31, 2012

How many times in a brainstorming meeting have we heard statements that begin “I think that …,” followed by a personal experience related to the idea at hand. Or one of the team will say something like, “I would never watch that,” in reference to a proposed concept.
When conceiving ideas, we all want to relate to our audience target, and identify with the market. But the reality is, our targets are far different than most of us as individuals. Comments like these have killed great concepts, and can lead ridiculous concepts to execution and launch.
We demand comprehensive creative briefs prior to digging into a project. So why are we so apt to throw them aside in favor of a personal opinion? Because we’re bad scientists.
In psychology, personal construct theory professes that people act as scientists, channeling their thoughts and actions based on what they predict and anticipate. A 35-year-old single, male marketer might expect that a 45-year-old mom with three kids will act in a particular manner, based on his personal experiences. But does he have the life experience to properly identify with a busy mom?
As creative people, we’re opinionated. We want great ideas to see the light. We like our own ideas and project their success on our intended targets. And this is mostly wrong.
How can you avoid bad science? As a practice, I’ve done my best to remove “I think…” from rationalization of concepts. It’s a simple trick, but it forces you to focus on the core rationale for what you’re presenting — not why you think it’s important or destined for success. A response of “the target has shown a propensity toward this type of entertainment” is more impressive than “I think this will be huge. I know that I would totally use it.” Whenever possible, prove it out with research, strategy, evidence or experience.
Sounds like common sense, right? It should be, but once you begin listening for it, you’ll be surprised at how many clients, accounts and creative people suffer from the “I think…” syndrome. In some circles, it’s an epidemic. I’ve heard the phrase uttered by junior creatives, senior creatives and people who should really know better.
It’s time we put science and experience before opinion. I think … we can do better
Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker, professional internet surfer and executive creative director at Carrot Creative in NYC. He’s one of the three super-hot bloggers that make up AdVerve, and admits to knowing just enough about the creative business to be dangerous. Keep your distance.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑