Facebook enables ad targeting by ZIP code

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Facebook is allowing marketers to target ads by consumers' ZIP codes, the company said this week.

ZIP code-targeted ads are restricted to the US and limited to 2,500 ZIP codes per ad, according to news reports.

Jed Williams, an analyst at BIA/Kelsey and program director of the firm's Social Local Media service, said “ZIP code-targeting, from a geo-targeting perspective, is as granular a unit as you can use.”

He added that the targeting method will benefit small- and medium-sized businesses as well as national chains and franchises for whom city-level targeting may be too broad to be effective. Political campaigns will also find the targeting valuable in advance of next year's elections, he said.

“It goes back to the basic laws of campaign marketing, how to reach particular districts and particular constituent segments within those districts,” said Williams. “Creating this sort of granular targeting would allow political candidates and campaigns to take advantage of segmenting their base or reaching particular voting blocs at a very granular, targeted level.”

National political campaigns have already begun to develop their targeting strategies. Last month, the Obama for America 2012 campaign published a job post for predictive modeling and data mining scientists and analysts. The position would use data to “determine which voters to target for turnout and persuasion efforts, where to buy advertising, and how to best approach digital media,” according to the job post.

Advertisers can also target their ads according to interest keywords, which Facebook refers to as “topic targeting.” Previously advertisers had to specify each individual interest. That capability went live on August 10, said a Facebook spokesperson.

“For example, targeting the ‘#Lady Gaga' topic allows advertisers to reach users connected to interests such as ‘Lady Gaga,' ‘Lady Gaga Music,' ‘Lady Gaga Poker Face,' ‘I love Lady Gaga,' etc., without having to select all of the interests individually,” Facebook said in a company blog post.

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