Meta Removes Location Targeting Options, Stressing Onboarding Importance

By Jeff Cracolici

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Marketing Manager & Digital Expert

Years ago, we wrote an article detailing the four location targeting options in the Facebook advertising platform. In summary, the options were reaching everyone in (or recently in) a specific geography, only those who live there, only those who work there, and those traveling there.

Over the summer, Meta eliminated the last three targeting options above, only allowing advertisers to target everyone in (or recently in) a geographic location.

Here is why we think Meta made this change, its impact on advertisers, and a solution to overcome this new location limitation.

Why did Meta Make the Change?

Anyone’s best guess is pure speculation, but the limitation comes at a time when Apple and Android are ramping up consumer privacy protections. Stopping apps from using the phone’s GPS to track your location is easier and more transparent than ever. This tracking was the key to the four legacy targeting options. Facebook would marry user-provided residential data with GPS analysis of where individuals spend their days and nights. The result helped them determine where they worked or were traveling.

Additionally, public scrutiny over Facebook’s practices for collecting and using highly personal data has hit an all-time high. Eliminating some of the more “creepy” targeting options helps this narrative of them changing for the better.

Impact on Advertisers

Whether you are a small business looking to advertise locally, a direct-to-consumer brand looking to target specific zip codes to accompany your postcard, or a large organization looking to drive traffic to their various brick-and-mortar stores, you rarely want to reach everyone in (or recently in) a location. Those traveling, working, or just passing through might not make sense for your offer, but a part of your budget will be spent reaching these individuals.

The bottom line is that you’re wasting budget reaching those with a low chance (or no chance) of responding. If targeting a specific group within a particular geography is crucial, customer onboarding is now your best option.

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The Solution: Audience Onboarding

Facebook was the first major platform to allow uploading and matching a CSV file of names and mailing addresses for ad targeting. Known as Audience Onboarding, this “direct digital” targeting option opened the doors for direct marketers, giving them a simple way to enhance campaigns with a multi-channel approach.

While Meta’s advertising platform has released dozens of other targeting options since then, this recent limitation has stressed the importance and value of uploading your customer or acquisition audience.

How does it work? It depends on the source of your data and your marketing goals.

Retention & Reactivation Campaigns

  1. Start by defining your geography criteria, for example, specific states or zip codes. If you need more refined data, like postal carrier routes of a radius around a particular address, reach out to us.
  2. Go into your e-commerce or CRM platform and pull the customer records matching your criteria.
  3. Format the records according to Meta’s documentation.
  4. Upload and associate it with your campaign.

Acquisition Campaigns

  1. Connect with your data broker to determine which data sources have approved digital campaign use. Contact us if you need data ready for direct mail and Meta.
  2. Format the records according to Meta’s documentation.
  3. Upload and associate it with your campaign.

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Published on Sep. 22, 2023, Last Updated on Nov. 08, 2023