A great ad (with terrible targeting)

A couple weeks ago I was served an ad on Facebook for a hard-liquor delivery service. Clearly, something was done right with the targeting (I’m probably on a “high likelihood to pay for delivery services for consumer goods” list thanks the copious number of children I have).

Intrigued, and given that I’m in marketing and hard-liquor is therefore nearly required, I clicked! The website was great, and I was intrigued with their offerings. When I entered my address to see what was available in my area, I got this:

I wasn’t overly surprised since my state only allows state-controlled liquor sales. A lot of online ordering gets jammed up when you try to put in an address in my state because of this.

There are lots of great things to learn from this campaign:

  1. This company did something right with the targeting based on interest; I was intrigued, and honestly would have potentially purchased at some point
  2. The ad copy was compelling and the website was attractive. They got me to the point where I was wanting to get pricing and offerings specific to my area…
  3. But I wasn’t eligible to purchase based on my location— And they wasted money serving it to me!    (I wasn’t the only one)


What should you do differently?

Target your ads based a potential customer’s location if you’re geo-limited.

Most businesses are in place where they cannot sell in certain areas (in the above example, essentially a geo-blacklist), or they only only serve to specific areas (geo-whitelisting).

Businesses that might employ some sort of geo-targeting:

  • Restaurants, nail salons, coffee shops (only looking for patrons that are within 45 minute radius)
  • Online stores that can’t sell their products to certain states/countries

A good ad strategy will likely incorporate both a white list strategy and even potentially a blacklist.

The good new is the Facebook ad manager tool makes it very easy to do this!

Login to your facebook ad manager and audience builder. Underneath the “Create New Audience or Use Existing Audience” options, there is a “Locations” section. Within this section, you’ll always want to start with an include that is the broadest audience you may target. For example, if you can sell to 38 of the 50 states in the USA, you’ll start with an “Include… the United States”.

Once you add your broadest grouping, you can add additional restrictions (or expansions) to that initial geo-definition. At this point (in the above example of selling to 38 states) you would then put in, under “exlude” the areas you can’t sell to.

You can layer additional excludes/includes to build out your target, but for most businesses 1/2 layers of these is often sufficient to get the ads served to actual potential customers.

In limiting your audience size to only people that can actually purchase, you’ll end up getting a much better ROI for your ad spend, since you’re not paying for useless clicks.

Good luck, and leave comments below as to any creative ways your business has managed to utilize geo-targeting it your ad campaigns!

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