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The Ultimate Guide to Using Facebook Ads Location Targeting

Kenny Novak • Updated on September 18, 2022
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Location Targeting

Facebook ad targeting is incredibly robust, full of dozens or hundreds of individual options you can target or exclude. Amidst all that – and even on that guide I just linked – people tend to overlook the basic location options. You’ll often see advice like this:

  • Set your country targeting to USA, or USA/UK/AUS, to exclude markets you don’t sell within.
  • Exclude countries like India and Bangladesh, where most traffic comes from clickfarms.
  • If you have a local business, set your location targeting to the state in which you operate.

These are all very good pieces of advice, of course. They do what they need to do. They’re functional. They’re also basic and uninspired. When you see all of the things Facebook location targeting can do, you’ll wonder how you ever went so long without using them.

Basic Location Targeting

At the most basic level, you have targeting within four key scales. These are Country, Region, City and Zip. Each of these can be used as an include or an exclude. For examples:

  • Include on the country level means your ad only targets people within the selected country or countries. This is much like the first example above, limiting yourself to English-speaking countries. Exclude by country is the second example above; block your ad from appearing within certain countries. You are limited to 25 countries for either inclusion or exclusion.
  • Region means whatever form of subdivision within the country exists. For countries with states, it means states. Other countries have provinces or territories, and it would go by those. Some countries have neither, and are divided into general regions. You are able to select up to 200 of these for a very fine level of control. To identify the code for any individual region, check the targeting search API.
  • You can specify cities as targeting factors as well. You can specify the city, and you can specify a radius around it, ranging from 10 miles to 50 miles. Once again, you can identify a city code using the API. You can use up to 250 cities in your targeting for an ad set.
  • Zips are Zip codes for more granular address targeting. You can use up to 2500 zip codes – yes, two and a half thousand – but if you’re using that many, you’re probably being very inefficient with your targeting.

Some ideas for using these targets might include targeting users within 50 miles of the 3 different cities you have branches in, or targeting users in the region where an event is going to be held. Be as limited or as broad as you can reasonably expect an interested audience to be present.

Exclusions are a particularly potent and often overlooked form of targeting. What if, for example, you have a nation-wide campaign that you want to start. Meanwhile, you’re launching a limited campaign centered on Los Angeles. You don’t want to dilute your Los Angeles message with your national message, nor do you want to be seen as spamming those users with your ads. All you have to do here is limit your L.A. ads to only L.A. and surrounding areas, and exclude those same areas from the national ads. You can go back and, once the L.A. promotion is over, re-include those users in your national campaign.

Facebook Hyper-Local Targeting

This option is only available to businesses with local physical locations, but for those businesses, it’s incredibly helpful.

Hyper-Local Targeting is a form of mobile location targeting that relies on both the geographic location of your business and the position of the user relative to your business. Think of it like a small local radio station that plays your radio commercial. That radio ad is effective within its radius, but if you get too far away, the radio signal dies out, overridden by more powerful transmitters.

This is perfectly fine, because you don’t want your message to broadcast 200 miles away when those people have an incredibly low chance of ever visiting your business. It limits your message to just those people who might be in a position where they are interested and close enough to want to visit your business and be able to visit in a timely manner.

Facebook’s targeting – actually called the Local Awareness Guide – works the same way. You plug in your branch’s physical location, by use of your address. You then create an advertisement targeted to a specific radius around the location, between 10 and 50 miles.

The way Facebook displays these ads depends on the home location of the user and their most recent location. It doesn’t tap into GPS for ever-ready location information, but it does monitor check-ins and other such uses. If the user is checking their Facebook profile via mobile device and they happen to be within the target area for the business and its ad, that ad will display.

Additionally, Local Awareness ads have an additional specific CTA button that other ads don’t have; Get Directions. The user can click this and be brought to a map that Facebook generates, showing their current location and directions to the branch.

To take advantage of Local Awareness ads, you will need to create a new ad campaign and set the objective to Local Awareness. Your Ad Set will contain the targeting information and the ad bid information. Facebook recommends Absolute OCPM for your reach. Your location field will be the address of your branch.

Everything else about your ad is free for you to customize, including the image, copy and directions.

Local Awareness doesn’t work for online-only businesses, unfortunately. It only works when you have a specific location you can use as the basis for the ad. If your online business is hosting an event, you can use the event location, but that only displays your ad to local users; in those cases you may want a national target.

What interesting options have you use for location targeting?


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