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Expert highlights ‘flaws’ with Facebook postcode targeting

By Alistair Harris

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Having launched just two weeks ago, Facebook’s post code targeting has come under scrutiny as analysis has suggested that the tool suffers from similar problems to other systems which sort IP by postcode, according to a report published by ClickZ.

CEO of XA.net, Rob Leathern presented findings from the Facebook advert testing program, optim.al, at San Francisco’s Search Engine Strategies event.

According to the results, Facebook is over-estimating the targetable audience for various US zip codes.

For example, the social networking site has calculated the Pleasanton postal zone as having a potential audience of 808,000. Data recorded in the US Census however, has the number down at 41,000 – a considerable difference.

Leathern later noted that this had become a common problem faced by many and not just limited to Facebook.

He said: “Zip code targeting based on IP has historically been less than 50 per cent accurate in display advertising, and Facebook is not much different (yet).”

Offering a slightly more positive outlook for the new outlet of Facebook marketing, he added: “Facebook does have the advantage of a lot of user-supplied location data as well, and we’re pretty confident from talking to them that they’re in the process of figuring it out and improving the targeting capabilities for advertisers.”

Rather than being a failure specifically accredited to Facebook, the flaw is rather down the geographic information and IP data that the social network uses to make these estimates, Leathern finished.

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