According to AdAge, Facebook is testing a new type of ad targeting that will let brands market to consumers based on what they’ve purchased in stores.

The social network has teamed up with data giants Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalogix to allow brands to match data gathered through loyalty programs to individual Facebook profiles.

Since email addresses and phone numbers are usually collected when consumers sign up for loyalty programs, and Facebook members sign in with one or the other, the social network will use this information to match program members to its own. However, a match between data points is required to enable delivery of an ad.

While targeting people online based on offline purchases is far from a new idea, it’s the how that really matters. Until now, you’ve only been able to buy an aggregate population of cookies. Tousanna Durgan, MEC’s senior director for audience buying noted that it can be difficult to determine how many unique individuals have seen the ad.

Hypothetically, Coca-Cola could target teenagers who have purchased soda during the past month, or Pampers could target North Carolina residents who have recently bought baby products. Facebook’s demographic and interest-targeting options can help to further refine the target audience.

Neither Facebook nor its partners have commented on the new tool. The social network certainly faces some challenges with this test, but it’ll be interesting to watch as the targeting option evolves. We’ll keep you updated as more details are released.

[Via: AdAge, Image credit: Mark Walz]