Facebook today launched a new tool for marketers called Facebook Audience Insights, available within Ads Manager for all US marketers today and rolling out globally “in the coming months.” As its name implies, the tool lets advertisers gather customer insights about their target audiences.

The idea is to give marketers trends about their current or potential customers across Facebook, allowing them to tailor their marketing messages based on what the tool surfaces. The tool gives insights about users in the following categories:

  • Demographics: Age and gender, lifestyle, education, relationship status, job role, and household size.
  • Page Likes: The top Pages people like in different categories, like women’s apparel or sports.
  • Location and Language: Where people live and the languages they speak.
  • Facebook Usage: How frequently people in the target audience login to Facebook and which devices they use.
  • Purchase Activity: Past purchase behavior and methods (online vs offline).

This information can be viewed for three different segments of people: the general Facebook audience, people connected to a particular Page or event, and a marketer’s current customers (created using Custom Audiences). Facebook promises these insights are surfaced in a way that ensures that private information about people is secure.

This might sound to some like Page Insights, but Facebook explains Audience Insights is different as it looks at trends across the social network. Page Insights looks at interactions on a given Page (likes, comments, shares, and so on).

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Facebook offers an example of how the tool can be used: a women’s luxury fashion brand wants to raise awareness for the products it sells in-store. A marketer can use Audience Insights to find how many people on Facebook live near these stores, as well as their interests, their past purchase behavior, and how they tend to shop (online vs. offline).

The tool can provide all this in an aggregate and anonymous manner. Here is how the company explains its system:

We built Audience Insights with privacy in mind. It surfaces aggregated information people already express on Facebook, along with information from trusted third-party partners — like Axciom — through our partner categories targeting. Like Page Insights, Audience Insights shows information about groups of people without the need to share which individual people are in those groups.

That should excite advertisers, but it may worry some users who believe Facebook may slip up and reveal their personal information.

See also – Facebook announces tools to let advertisers target people who visited their site or used their mobile app and Facebook redesigns its ad buying and reporting tools to help businesses meet ‘objectives’

Top Image Credit: Manjunath Kiran/Getty Images