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Facebook is making moves to help marketers target expats living abroad, with a new ad-targeting feature helping companies direct their campaigns at the 92 million Facebook users living outside their home country.
This is in stark contrast to the local-awareness ads launched by the social network last year, allowing businesses to serve ads to people physically located nearby. Now, Facebook is hoping to increase a company’s potential target audience by including those who may live on the other side of the world.
Facebook had quietly unveiled an expat feature on a limited basis last year, but this latest move is designed to build on that and open things to a broader market. Expat targeting is now available globally “in all Facebook ads interfaces, including the API,” the company says in a statement, and there are two facets to the new feature.
First, ads can be aimed at expats living within a certain country, for example those who lives in Mexico but who aren’t originally from Mexico. Second, marketers can target expats who originate from a specific country, but who now live somewhere else — this feature is currently only available to those who hail from China, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, and India.
Why would marketers wish to target expats in this way? Well, Facebook’s thinking is this: People already want to stay in touch with friends and family in their home country, and a natural extension to this is a desire to connect with brands, news outlets, and other organizations familiar to them. However, this new service would likely only be suited to certain kinds of products and services, ones that don’t require an individual to be in the locale to consume it.
Facebook also points to one instance where targeting expats could be of use — and that relates to travel. The company’s promotional blurb reads:
“Since many expats travel home for the holidays, Etihad Airways, a leading Middle East airline, saw an opportunity before Diwali (a Hindu festival) to connect with the 27 million Hindus on Facebook living outside India. Like many holidays, Diwali is a festival to be celebrated with family and friends. Using expat targeting, Eithad connected with expats with messages about traveling home for the holiday, reaching 536,00 Indian expats living in the Middle East, leading to 700 bookings and a 50X return on investment.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has catered for the expat community — back in 2009 the social network started allowing advertisers to target by language. So, the thousdands of Brits who live in Spain but don’t speak Spanish, for example, could see adverts they would actually understand.