Does geo targeting actually work on Facebook? [Advertising analysis]

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Targeting audiences by geography is a great way to reach people you want to reach.

I just saw a Facebook ad while I was at the Destinations International event in St. Louis:

If you are seeing this at DI, stop by booth xxx to see us to talk about xxx.

That’s a good strategy but of course also reaches everyone else that is currently on Facebook and in downtown St. Louis.

I’ve run geo targeted campaigns before and once for a speaking gig in southern Florida it was quite useful. I reached the people I wanted to reach.

As I was heading to Hong Kong in 2019 I wanted to see if the strategy could connect me with some additional marketers while I was there.

I posted the following to Facebook:

Sure, I could have added more about me, tell more of a story, use a picture, etc.

But let’s see how it would work.

I set my audience to Hong Kong, all genders, ages 21-59 and in marketing-related industries

I allocated a small budget and started it.

Of course, I can’t tell who is actually seeing the post until they like it.

Once they do, I can click over to their profile and see where they live.

There were 7 likes early on. I clicked over to see and saw 3 locations in Indonesia. That’s almost half out of the specific region already. Disappointing.

As a refresher, here’s how close Indonesia is to Hong Kong:

Summary: Indonesia isn’t close to Hong Kong at all.

At that point, I had spent 37 cents. Some will say I have to give it time, but this isn’t rocket science.

Geo targeting should target by the specified geography.

If Facebook can’t get it right for 37 cents why would I spend hundreds or thousands of dollars? I wouldn’t.

Maybe you have had better experiences? Tweet them to me at @ctrappe if you have had some.

For me it was disappointing. One takeaway for digital marketers: Find a way to test your campaign with a small amount of funds.

This is one way to do that. And if it’s not delivering, end the campaign and run and try a different one.