Facebook has kicked off their Christmas celebrations early, and it’s a special one for the high street. Custom audiences for store visits.

The update will allow bricks and mortar brands to build a Facebook audience of people who have visited their store IRL. Once they’ve got it, they can then retarget them with offers and incentives to drive repeat visits – yeah, huge. Further than that, they can also create lookalike audiences of potential customers who could be likely to visit later on.

The service is the reverse of a well known measurement tool, where brands can track the effectiveness of their ads to drive footfall to a location. But before we all freak out about Facebook creepin’ on our location, there’s a simple solution. Users can turn the function off by updating their location sharing preference with the app.

Why is Facebook ramping this up now?

I promise not to use the word ‘phygical’… Essentially, Facebook’s connectedness play is getting strong. We’ll no doubt see similar developments from Snapchat who has also been looking to gain IRL traction. Facebook has the people and places to make contextual advertising really powerful; what’s lacking is a connection to IoT which went down in flames with the closure of Parse last year. With Amazon and Google pushing hard into this space, it doesn’t take too large a leap to assume there may be an announcement of this type on the horizon.

Read on for more of the Touch blog here.