5 Ridiculously Powerful Facebook Ad Targeting Strategies

Tar­get ads to exist­ing con­tacts or based on pur­chase behav­ior, pro­files, life events, and more.

Larry Kim By Larry Kim from MobileMonkey . Join the discussion » 0 comments

You can tar­get audi­ences on Face­book with a dozen dif­fer­ent ad for­mats and thou­sands of pos­si­ble ad tar­get­ing para­me­ters. Mas­ter­ing your Face­book tar­get­ing strat­e­gy gets you in front of very spe­cif­ic and often moti­vat­ed seg­ments of your audi­ence, on the net­work where Amer­i­cans reli­gious­ly spend an aver­age of 40 min­utes of their day. Here are a few ridicu­lous­ly pow­er­ful Face­book ad tar­get­ing strate­gies you prob­a­bly haven’t heard of.


1. Tap Into Recent Purchasing Behavior Among Facebook Users

You Can Target Facebook Users For What?Ear­ly on, Face­book was crit­i­cized by adver­tis­ing ana­lysts as a fun place to hang out, but a net­work with lit­tle com­mer­cial intent or poten­tial for con­sumer insight. That changed ear­ly in 2013 when Face­book forged part­ner­ships with data bro­kers includ­ing Epsilon, Acx­iom, and Dat­a­logix.

These com­pa­nies have access to tril­lions of data trans­ac­tions each year. Acx­iom exec­u­tives have stat­ed that their data­base alone con­tains infor­ma­tion about 500 mil­lion active con­sumers world­wide, with an aver­age of 1,500 data points per per­son.

Sud­den­ly, Face­book knew a whole lot more than whether you spent more time in Far­mville or Can­dy Crush Saga. Get­ting mar­ried soon? Tak­ing med­ica­tion for hyper­ten­sion? Love read­ing mur­der mys­ter­ies? Face­book prob­a­bly knows.

This gave adver­tis­ers the pow­er to reach out beyond their own CRM data­bas­es and tap into insights gleaned from shop­per loy­al­ty pro­grams of all kinds and matched to indi­vid­ual user pro­files. Face­book adver­tis­ers use this data to tar­get audi­ence seg­ments by thou­sands of dif­fer­ent pur­chas­ing behav­iors.

Here’s one that I use: Peo­ple who buy Busi­ness Mar­ket­ing Ser­vices (which is rel­e­vant to my com­pa­ny, as we sell busi­ness soft­ware and ser­vices).

Facebook purchase behavior

Pur­chas­ing behav­ior sub­cat­e­gories include Buy­er Pro­files, Cloth­ing, Food & Drink, Health & Beau­ty and a lot more. With­in each broad sub­cat­e­go­ry, you can drill down into types of behav­ior; for exam­ple, choos­ing Buy­er Pro­files will then let you tar­get DIY­ers, Fash­ion­istas, Food­ies, etc.

Face­book shows you how many user pro­files you can tar­get in each sub­cat­e­go­ry, based on their aggre­gat­ed, mul­ti-sourced offline trans­ac­tion-based data (or in sim­pler terms, the num­ber of Face­book users in that cat­e­go­ry they’ve matched to offline pur­chas­ing data).

The options here are lim­it­less. Get in there and explore!

2. Get Creative With Life Events Targeting

Cer­tain types of busi­ness­es or cam­paigns are based on sell­ing to peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing cer­tain major life events. Funer­al homes, for exam­ple, obvi­ous­ly want to con­nect with peo­ple who are plan­ning a funer­al, ter­mi­nal­ly ill, or lost/losing a loved one. Mov­ing ser­vices want to get in front of you if you’ve just pur­chased a new house or apart­ment. Wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers tar­get peo­ple who are engaged.

Face­book has pret­ty much every con­ceiv­able life event tar­get­ing option, since we tend to post these to our time­lines.

Facebook life targeting

The Life Events para­me­ter is unique in that you can choose to tar­get peo­ple at spe­cif­ic inter­vals of time after the change. For exam­ple, a jew­el­ry com­pa­ny would obvi­ous­ly be inter­est­ed in get­ting in front of peo­ple cel­e­brat­ing their one-year anniver­sary, so they could tar­get audi­ence mem­bers who were new­ly­weds one year ago. The date ranges pos­si­ble are 3 months, 6 months and one year.

3. Nurture Leads & Build Loyalty With Facebook Custom Audiences

Face­book Cus­tom Audi­ences are an advanced fea­ture that enable you to con­nect on Face­book with your exist­ing con­tacts. Get­ting in front of your exist­ing cus­tomers and app users on their favorite social net­work rein­forces your brand, but also gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase life­time cus­tomer val­ue, order fre­quen­cy, and loy­al­ty.

Facebook custom audiences

This works the oth­er way, too – you can increase the effi­ca­cy of your cam­paigns and avoid wast­ed clicks by exclud­ing your exist­ing cus­tomer list. If you’re offer­ing a free tri­al to new users, for exam­ple, there’s no rea­son to show it to your loy­al cus­tomers.

Cus­tom Audi­ences are cre­at­ed by upload­ing your cus­tomer phone list, or purchaser/subscriber email list in CSV or TXT for­mat, to Face­book. You can also cre­ate a Cus­tom Audi­ence based on your site vis­i­tors (and spe­cif­ic pages vis­it­ed on your site), or on spe­cif­ic actions tak­en with­in your game or app.

Facebook create a custom audience

Then tar­get or exclude the whole list, or just spe­cif­ic sub­sets of it using oth­er tar­get­ing para­me­ters to home in on your ide­al audi­ence.

This is crazy pow­er­ful! You could tar­get your exist­ing cus­tomers who work in a spe­cif­ic job func­tion, make XX amount of mon­ey per year, and live in a cer­tain ZIP code with a high­er val­ue prod­uct offer, if those insights told you these peo­ple are more apt to be your afflu­ent cus­tomers.

Or, you could tar­get peo­ple who vis­it­ed your company’s blog with offers to demo your prod­uct. They already know your name and were inter­est­ed enough to vis­it you, but not to con­vert. Face­book Ads tar­get­ing that Cus­tom Audi­ence can close the gap.

The num­ber of dif­fer­ent demo­graph­ics points you can tar­get and com­bine is stag­ger­ing. Net worth, liv­ing arrange­ments, mar­i­tal sta­tus, parental sta­tus, inter­ests, loca­tion – it’s all in there, and more.

4. Expand To A Lookalike Audience

Looka­like Audi­ences are a log­i­cal next step, once you have a good Cus­tom Audi­ences strat­e­gy in place. Even if you don’t have your own email or phone list, you can mir­ror your Face­book fan base. Looka­likes allow you to expand beyond your reach but still tar­get peo­ple with high­ly spe­cif­ic pro­files, by cre­at­ing audi­ences that look like your own tar­gets.

If you have nei­ther a list nor a big enough Face­book fol­low­ing, you can still cre­ate a Looka­like Audi­ence using a track­ing pix­el to cre­ate a Web­site Cus­tom Audi­ence to mir­ror.

Facebook create lookalike audience

Once you’ve decid­ed which audi­ence you want to repli­cate and expand on, you can make the audi­ence larg­er (more broad) or small­er (more spe­cif­ic and sim­i­lar to your orig­i­nal audi­ence). At the most sim­i­lar lev­el, Face­book is going to find you the top 1 per­cent of users with sim­i­lar traits, in your tar­get coun­try. At the oppo­site lev­el, opti­miz­ing for reach, Face­book will dis­play your ads to the 10 per­cent of users in your tar­get coun­try who are most like your tar­get audi­ence.

5. Get Super Granular With Layered Targeting Options

The real­ly pow­er­ful thing about Face­book ads is in your abil­i­ty to lay­er tar­get­ing options on top of one anoth­er, grad­u­al­ly mak­ing your audi­ence more and more spe­cif­ic. An extreme (and hilar­i­ous) exam­ple of the pow­er of hyper­tar­get­ing was fea­tured in AdWeek last year, when a mar­ket­ing pro tar­get­ed his room­mate with ads so spe­cif­ic the poor guy thought he was being cyber­stalked.

Yes, you can use com­bi­na­tions of behav­iors, demo­graph­ics, and geolo­ca­tion data to reduce your audi­ence to as lit­tle as one per­son. Far more use­ful for you, how­ev­er, is the abil­i­ty to match ad cre­ative and offers to small­er audi­ences cre­at­ed using com­bi­na­tions of data.

Facebook targeting household composition Facebook targeting net worth

For exam­ple, a mov­ing com­pa­ny pro­mot­ing a spe­cial dis­count for senior cit­i­zens could tar­get peo­ple who pur­chased a house with­in the last month, lay­ered with an age range of 60 years old or greater and their ser­vice area loca­tions.

Or, a retail­er sell­ing baby prod­ucts meant to soothe and calm a baby could tar­get new par­ents who have pur­chased col­ic med­ica­tion. Imag­ine the abil­i­ty to speak direct­ly to the par­ent expe­ri­enc­ing those sleep­less night with such tar­get­ed mes­sag­ing! (As a new par­ent, I total­ly get this.) Your mes­sag­ing can be tai­lored to speak direct­ly to that prob­lem and offer your solu­tion.

If you can under­stand the intent, needs and like­li­hood to respond of any giv­en audi­ence seg­ment, you can lay­er Face­book Ads tar­get­ing options to tap into it and get in front of them.

The Best Facebook Ad Targeting Strategy Is Diversified & Comprehensive

You don’t have to pick just one of the strate­gies above; check each of them out and see how they might fit your var­i­ous tar­get mar­ket seg­ments.

Cre­ate per­sonas for your ide­al cus­tomers – who are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work and what do they do after work? What traits and char­ac­ter­is­tics might they have, and how do those align with the many tar­get­ing para­me­ters list­ed above?

Iden­ti­fy­ing just who it is you want to reach will guide you to the best Face­book ad tar­get­ing tools and options to get in front of them.


Do you have any cre­ative Face­book ad tar­get­ing tips? Share yours in the com­ments below!

Larry Kim

Written by Larry Kim

CEO, MobileMonkey

Larry Kim is the Founder of WordStream. Since 2017 he's been the CEO of MobileMonkey, Inc. - a provider of chatbot software tools for marketers.

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