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Why is someone outside of my target location seeing my Facebook ad?

One of the advantages of paid social media is the ability to craft a target audience based on exactly who you wish to talk to. Instead of organic social, which involves shouting into the unknown, through both Facebook and LinkedIn’s detailed targeting options, you can choose who will receive your message.

Crafting a target audience for your Facebook campaign can take a lot of time and research, with options varying from location to age and interests. Deciding on your campaign location is a big decision – should you go wide and target a huge area to get a large lead pot, or do you only want to stick to local leads in a certain area?

What options do I have?

When targeting based on location, you have the following options:

  • People who live in that location
  • People recently in that location
  • People recently travelling in that location
  • Everyone in that location (all of the above).

Based on experience, I would always recommend targeting people who say that they live in your desired location. People who are simply passing through could live anywhere and you’re paying to reach them – a complete waste of your money.

This is all well and good, but what happens when you notice that one or two leads are not within your target location? How did they see your ad?

You’ve just spent some money to get this lead, and they’re not even in your target location! If you are only advertising for clients within a distance you can travel to for in-person meetings, you would probably class that lead as unqualified (you can’t travel to them, or they are out of your service area). You also don’t want to waste time calling or following up with them.

To understand how this can happen, it’s important to understand how Facebook finds these people.

How does Facebook determine someone’s location?

To determine location for ad targeting Facebook uses a range of sources, including but not limited to:

  • Current city listed on someone’s profile
  • IP address
  • Data from mobile location services
  • Aggregated information about the location of friends

Facebook will always use their “current city” first. You’ll likely know someone who either does not have their current city updated or does not have a current city listed at all. If someone has recently moved and they haven’t updated their location, they will see ads targeted to that location and not yours!

If this is the case, Facebook will use other methods to understand where this user lives. This ranges from their IP address, where most of their friends on Facebook live, if they like or engage with content specific to an area, or data from their mobile location settings.

Although all these methods do make sense, there is room for error with each one.

An IP address or friends list may not provide accurate location data

For example, what if they are using a privacy setting which masks their IP address?

IP addresses are the identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network: they contain location information and make devices accessible for communication. The internet needs a way to differentiate between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses provide a way of doing so and form an essential part of how the internet works.

In short, they are extremely important.

However, software known as VPNs (virtual private networks) can hide your location information. This means that Facebook cannot see exactly where you are and will have to use other ways of guessing your location.

What about their friends list?

Facebook may use a location that many of the user’s friends live in. For example, someone could have zero locations mentioned on their profile, but they have many friends whose profile says that they live in a certain area of Manchester. Because of this, they are then likely to get ads sent to that area.

What can you do to ensure people in the right location see your ad?

Is there a way to ensure that only those in your desired location see your ad?

There is no way to ensure it, but my biggest recommendation is to firstly ensure that your messaging explicitly mentions the geographical area you’re targeting.

If you are only willing to travel within Newcastle, for example, then you should tailor your messaging to “serving the people of Newcastle”. Ensure that this is clear on not only your advert but also on any landing page you link to in your campaign.

Another suggestion is to, as I always recommend, make use of your lead generation forms! The data collection form created by Facebook not only works seamlessly but it can also be customised to suit your campaign. You can ask for a range of information which goes way beyond the user’s name, phone number and email. You can also ask for their location.

There is also an option to add your own question with a free flow answer box or a multiple-choice question. You could ask them “are you based near ….?” If they answer no, you can stop them from continuing the form.

In an ideal world, all Facebook users will keep their location completely up to date, but many don’t do this. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes these leads slip through. Unfortunately, there is not a clear fix from Facebook’s side of things, as this is simply how their location targeting works.

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If you’d like to explore how paid social media advertising can work for your business, get in touch for a chat. Email or call 0115 8965 300.

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