Facebook has its hands on a large large quantity of data:  beginning with your name and birthdate, your school, hometown, university, your friends and relationships, your likes in music, movies, and books – and now ending with your exact location anywhere you go.  A new feature aptly titled ‘Nearby Friends’ based on your location alerts you when friends of yours are in the vicinity.  It also could enhance user experience by showing only those stories in the newsfeed from friends currently close by or events that are happening nearby.  But for Facebook, this new feature could be about so much more than that.

Facebook’s VP Carolyn Everson hinted at the evolution of Facebook ads back in 2012:  “Phones can be location-specific so you can start to imagine what the product evolution might look like over time, particularly for retailers”.  A year prior – in 2011 – Facebook had already bought a hyperlocal ad targeting startup called Rel8tion.  

This means that Facebook could soon – to those who opt into the service – be displaying extremely location specific targeted advertisements to users.  From showing users the page of a pizza place down the street or a boutique on the corner just a few steps away, this type of advertising could once again change the landscape.  Instead of showing tailored ads based on clicks, which may well correspond to a person in terms of interests, Facebook will now be weighing the proximity to and ease with which the user can get there more heavily.

While a number of users seem opposed to any changes made to Facebook and the way they can interact through it, these kinds of features with big data written all over them are what will be rolled out in greater and greater numbers in future.


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(Image Credit:  Geraint Rowland)

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