Facebook is using its online-to-offline ad measurement tools for offline-to-online ad targeting.

Face­book is mak­ing it eas­i­er for brands to retar­get peo­ple with ads on Face­book based on how those peo­ple come into con­tact with a brand in the real world.

Last month, I report­ed that Face­book was test­ing a way for adver­tis­ers to tar­get ads to peo­ple who had vis­it­ed their brick-and-mor­tar loca­tions. Now, the social net­work is offi­cial­ly rolling out that option, along with the abil­i­ty to retar­get peo­ple based on oth­er offline events that Face­book can track, such as in-store prod­uct pur­chas­es and calls to a business’s office or call cen­ter. Face­book is tak­ing tools that it had pre­vi­ous­ly intro­duced for brands to mea­sure ad-dri­ven offline events and apply­ing them in reverse.

The new offline-to-online retar­get­ing options are being added to Facebook’s Cus­tom Audi­ences ad-tar­get­ing port­fo­lio, which orig­i­nat­ed as a way for busi­ness­es to take infor­ma­tion they col­lect out­side of Face­book and apply it to ads bought on Face­book. Ini­tial­ly, that meant adver­tis­ers could upload the email address­es of peo­ple who sub­scribed to a business’s newslet­ter or the phone num­bers of loy­al­ty pro­gram mem­bers, and Face­book would match that infor­ma­tion to people’s Face­book pro­files. But increas­ing­ly, Face­book has been expand­ing the pro­gram to cov­er var­i­ous ways peo­ple may inter­act with a busi­ness, such as by RSVPing to a business’s Face­book event, as well as to tar­get­ing peo­ple across Insta­gram and its Audi­ence Net­work ad net­work of third-par­ty sites and apps.

In addi­tion to retar­get­ing peo­ple, brands can use Cus­tom Audi­ences to tar­get so-called “looka­like” audi­ences of peo­ple who share sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics to those peo­ple list­ed in a Cus­tom Audi­ence, as well as to exclude mem­bers of a Cus­tom Audi­ence from being shown an ad.

Cus­tom Audi­ences for store vis­its
Brands will be able to cre­ate Cus­tom Audi­ence lists of any­one that Face­book has tracked as hav­ing vis­it­ed a brand’s loca­tion, such as a retail store, restau­rant or auto deal­er­ship, with­in the past 30 days.

To com­pile a Cus­tom Audi­ence of peo­ple who had vis­it­ed a brand’s store, Face­book will rely on peo­ple who have enabled the com­pa­ny to track their loca­tions through its mobile app’s set­tings (an option that can be dis­abled). This is also how Face­book mea­sures how many peo­ple vis­it­ed a brand’s store after see­ing an ad on Face­book. But unlike the store vis­its mea­sure­ment — which uses those tracked vis­i­tors as a proxy to esti­mate how many peo­ple in total may have vis­it­ed a brand’s loca­tion — Face­book will only include peo­ple that it actu­al­ly tracked as enter­ing a store in a Cus­tom Audi­ence of store vis­i­tors, accord­ing to Gabriel Fran­cis, prod­uct mar­ket­ing lead for offline at Face­book.

A nat­ur­al ques­tion is whether Face­book could con­sid­er a per­son as hav­ing vis­it­ed a store when in real­i­ty that per­son only passed by the store or the phone’s GPS inac­cu­rate­ly pegged their loca­tion as being inside a store. To mit­i­gate that risk, Face­book will only include peo­ple in a store vis­i­tor audi­ence when it has a “high con­fi­dence” that a per­son vis­it­ed a giv­en loca­tion, Fran­cis said.

The abil­i­ty to cre­ate a Cus­tom Audi­ence of store vis­i­tors is only avail­able to busi­ness­es that meet Facebook’s eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments. Among those require­ments, a brand must oper­ate at least 10 sep­a­rate loca­tions. Busi­ness­es can increase their like­li­hood of eli­gi­bil­i­ty by upload­ing data about their loca­tions’ struc­tures to Face­book, said Fran­cis.

Cus­tom Audi­ences for offline events
The abil­i­ty for brands to retar­get peo­ple on Face­book based on how peo­ple inter­act with a busi­ness offline isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly new. But it is eas­i­er now.

Brands have always been able to use Cus­tom Audi­ences to tar­get ads to peo­ple who bought some­thing in their stores or called their offices, but it was up to the brand to fig­ure out how to do so. For exam­ple, a brand would have need­ed to col­lect cer­tain iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion at the time of the event, such as the person’s email address, full name and/or phone num­ber when a per­son checked out in a store or phoned its call cen­ter. Since those are among the data that can be used by Face­book to match peo­ple to their Face­book pro­files, the brand could then add that infor­ma­tion to a spread­sheet and upload the spread­sheet to Face­book to cre­ate a Cus­tom Audi­ence.

Now, Face­book is automat­ing that man­u­al process. Last year, Face­book rolled out its Offline Con­ver­sions API, which can be plugged into a store’s point-of-sale sys­tem or a brand’s call cen­ter to auto­mat­i­cal­ly pipe the infor­ma­tion record­ed by a brand to Facebook’s sys­tem in order to attribute con­ver­sions to a brand’s Face­book cam­paign. And ear­li­er this year, Face­book enabled cer­tain CRM sys­tems to direct­ly plug into its offline con­ver­sion track­ing sys­tem. To apply these ad-attri­bu­tion tools to ad tar­get­ing, Face­book will use the offline events logged to cre­ate and update Cus­tom Audi­ences for a brand in real time, said Fran­cis.