Facebook Enables Zip Code Targeting for Ads

Facebook introduced zip code targeting yesterday. The capability has special value for local advertisers as well as political advertisers looking to reach specific voting districts.

Advertisers can now target ads including Sponsored Story campaigns down to the zip code level throughout the U.S, said a Facebook spokesperson. Until now, they could target geographically only to cities, states, and provinces. Advertisers can target individual ads to as many as 2,500 zip codes.

“My comment is, finally!” said Josh Koster, managing partner of Chong and Koster, an agency that handles digital advertising for political and advocacy campaigns on the left, as well as corporate clients. “It’s huge for political campaigns and huge for small businesses.”

Small businesses in larger cities, for example, often need only target a neighborhood but until now have had to target an entire city when running Facebook ads.

Eric Frenchman, chief Internet strategist at the Republican consulting firm Campaign Solutions agreed that zip code targeting on Facebook is “very important” for political advertisers.

Advertisers can also upload several zip-targeted ads in bulk using the company’s Power Editor system.

When asked how user zip codes are determined, the Facebook spokesperson told ClickZ they are based on a variety of information. Facebook lets users include their address, city, neighborhood, and zip code in their profile data, but it’s not clear that many people reveal such detailed location information.

The company has pushed users to provide more contact information recently. Earlier this year, Facebook served promos asking “Which city do you live in?” The ad-style requests allowed them to click to choose the city displayed, or pick another one.

Although the new feature clearly appeals to political advertisers at all levels aiming to reach key voters in local districts, political advertisers long for true voting district targeting online. That is typically done less-precisely on other platforms using zip code or IP-based targeting as a proxy. For instance, Google allows advertisers to simulate voting district targeting by creating a custom targeted region using a map tool. Others claim to drill down to local voter districts. Political ad network and platform Campaign Grid targets to voter zones, and AOL enables congressional district targeting.

Facebook is still working on the zip-targeting feature, which will be available to advertisers in the coming week.

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