Facebook To Roll Out Email- and Phone Number-Based Ad Targeting Next Week

Facebook will be launching new features next week that allow advertisers to target their ads to customers based on contact information that the advertiser has already collected. It’s a way for businesses to connect their Facebook ads with the customer lists they may have built up elsewhere.

Inside Facebook first reported on the feature after tipsters saw it go live temporarily. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed this afternoon that it’s a real product, and she walked me through how the program will work.

Again, it starts with a customer list that a business has already created — for example if I’ve given my email address to the bookstore on my block so that I can hear about future sales and events. Businesses will be able to upload those lists of email addresses, phone numbers, and user IDs to Facebook, though the data will be hashed first so that Facebook doesn’t have access to that information. Meanwhile, Facebook’s user data will be similarly hashed, so the company can compare both sets of hashed data, creating a list of users whose contact information matches up with what the advertiser uploaded.

After that, businesses will have the option to target their ads at that group, or they can further target their content towards a certain demographic within the group (say, females between 25 and 45). The simplest use case: Most businesses have loyal customers who aren’t Facebook fans, so they can create an ad for those customers asking them to become fans. Advertisers can also offer deals — an auto repair shop could tell customers that they’ll get a free oil change if they become a fan. It’s applicable beyond brick-and-mortar businesses too — an app developer could target lapsed users with an ad outlining the features in a new update.

This is just about giving advertisers more targeting options, Facebook says — businesses won’t have access to any additional user data.

Facebook’s spokesperson says the feature has been in private testing, and that in one early campaign, a financial services company was able to double its fan base in two weeks, at a lower cost-per-fan than ever before. Which makes sense — the company was reaching out to people who were probably fans already, just not in the Facebook sense.

Starting next week, this targeting feature will be available to all “managed” advertisers (i.e., the ones who receive support from Facebook).