In addition to its new mobile Audience Network, Facebook today also launched a new advertising type for business owners: local awareness ads.

Local awareness ads are rolling out to US advertisers “over the coming weeks” and globally “in the coming months.” As is usual for new methods of making money, Facebook is being cautious so it can tweak its idea if advertisers and users don’t react well.

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As the name implies, the new ads let marketers target users who are physically nearby. Businesses can find new customers by showing ads to groups of people in the neighborhood.

Facebook claims local awareness ads are more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels like newspapers and flyers, plus they offer “more precise targeting and greater reach.” While local businesses get yet another way to reach people nearby, Facebook says the ads are also a great way for its users to discover places of interest in their area.

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To create an ad, fire up the Ads Create tool, select “Local Awareness,” and then choose the Page of the business you want to promote. Facebook says “advanced advertisers” will be able to access this feature in the API, though it didn’t say when all advertisers will be able to.

The tool will then ask for your business’ address if it’s not already listed on your Page (if listed, it will automatically be filled in), as well as the radius around which you want to advertise. You’ll then see a map of the area covered by your ad; you can adjust the radius as you see fit.

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Facebook says it will use this information to find an audience for your ad based on people who live nearby or were recently near the business in question. It’s also a great way to expand its database of where businesses are located — information that can always come in handy for Facebook at a later date.

Next, you’re asked to choose the age and gender of your audience and set a budget as well as a duration for your ad. Facebook will then give you back a number of people you can expect to reach each day and how much it will cost you.

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Finally, you’re asked to enter the text for your ad and an image. Optionally, you can add a call-to-action button to your ad.

As always, Facebook says these new ads are “built with privacy in mind” – advertisers never see a list of specific people, and users can choose not to share their location with the social network. In fact, the only way Facebook says you can avoid seeing these ads (aside from uninstalling the app) is to turn off location services on your smartphone.

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