PC World reported today on new technology Facebook is using to track offline sales in order to serve targeted advertisements to its users.
"With more than 1.3 billion users, it's no surprise many businesses feel they have no choice but to advertise on Facebook. But companies want to know their ads work, and most purchases still happen in physical stores, not online," wrote PC World's Zach Miners.
Facebook tracking ad performance for e-commerce sales is one thing, but tracking in-store sales is entirely another.
"Facebook sees an opportunity there. Connecting the dots between the ads users see and the purchases they make in stores is a key goal of its advertising efforts, and its working hard to improve the connections, executives said Wednesday at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California."
The company has acquired a number of companies over the past few years to help advertisers better target their ads to Facebook users.
Custom Audiences employs a process called 'hashing' which disguises users' identities within the data tracking.
One such targeting tool is called "Custom Audiences" and allows retailers to match in-store shoppers with their Facebook accounts.
"It's often done through an email address, phone number or name," explained Miners. "Facebook uses a process it calls 'hashing' to scramble the data, which means users' identities are not revealed in the process, Facebook says. But the matches let retailers gauge the effectiveness of their ads and follow up with more ads after the sale."