The social network rolls out two new ad tools, which enable retailers to target shoppers based on their visits to a store and what they’ve bought offline.

Facebook Inc. is making a pitch that it can help multichannel retailers drive consumers into their stores.

The social network today rolled out two new ad tools to enable retailers to build Custom Audience customer segments they can use to target consumers based on their visits to a merchant’s store and what they’ve bought offline.

For example, an apparel retailer can automatically show an ad with its latest designs to shoppers who have visited a store but not made a purchase in the past 30 days. Or the retailer could create lookalike audiences to find new potential shoppers that share characteristics with their best customers that shop offline.

Facebook can gather consumers’ store visits based on shoppers who have location services enabled on their phone, as well as from merchants that use Facebook’s beacons. To use the offline conversion tool, retailers can manually upload spreadsheets or connect directly to the Facebook Offline Conversions applied programming interface. Some customer relationship management and point-of-sale providers, such as Marketo and Square, have API integration.

In linking consumers’ offline actions with digital ads, Facebook aims to help retailers generate more relevant ads, says Gabriel Francis, Facebook’s product marketing manager team lead, offline sales.


“While retailers intuitively understand that they need to present more relevant ads and need to connect what they know about a consumer’s offline behaviors online, it’s been hard for them to do that,” he says. “And yet, with the difficult business environment they’re facing, it’s more important than ever that they do so.”

Facebook’s tools build on the social network’s push last year when it launched dynamic ads for retail, a mobile ad unit that retailers can use to drive in-store traffic and sales. At the time Facebook also introduced “store visits” as the primary reporting metric for the dynamic ads for retail ads. The metric comes from information from shoppers with location services enabled on their phone and via from merchants that use Facebook’s beacons. The metric can focus on consumers who saw the Facebook ad within one day, seven days or 28 days before coming into the store.

Not all businesses are eligible to use the store visits customer audience tool because Facebook wants to ensure it can accurately measure retailers’ in-store traffic. Even though not all merchants can access the tool, there still are “thousands of companies” in 12 countries using it.