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Facebook Ads Targeting Secrets


This post is for people who have already created advertising campaigns on Facebook and are familiar with the terms: campaigns, ad sets, creative, and an asset for Facebook.

To begin, you have to have an understanding of the reasons behind why you need to target effectively on social media.

How does Facebook classify its users?

When you scroll the social media feed such as Facebook and Instagram (scroll on the application or on your computer), Facebook spies on you. It keeps tabs on every action you take, including following a page, commenting on a post, liking an advertisement, and so on.

Facebook saves this information and then uses it to target advertisements in the future. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Facebook Pixel, installed on most advertisers’ websites (businesses that utilize advertising or agencies), collects user data on both websites and applications.

This Facebook pixel tracks the actions you take on a website, when you consume content, watch a video, click a button, click on a product, add to cart, purchase, etc.

Because of this, when you go to a website to read a particular article or buy your pair of Nike shoes, you may be retargeted by advertisements for comparable products, which may lead you to believe that Facebook is spying on your online activities; nonetheless, the answer to this question is yes.

You are a marketer or an e-commerce entrepreneur, and this is wonderful news since it enables us to accurately target people using the intelligence that Facebook has accumulated, which includes a large amount of data on user activity and interests.


For the example, we will use Branslada, a fictive trendy jewelry brand that wants to target urban women who want to buy their next jewelry.

Laura (the persona aka ideal customer they want to reach) is 27 years old, lives in California, and would like to affirm her personality.

She follows lifestyle beauty influencers and often visits the websites of the brands her favorite influencers promote.

This indicates that there is a chance that Laura will see the Branslada ad if we include the jewelry interest in the ad set, which targets women in the United States who are between the ages of 25 and 45 and who are interested in jewelry. But a significant number of middle-aged women in the United States enjoy wearing jewelry… Approximately 22 million people make up the audience.

You can optimize the targeting of Laura if you want to enhance the likelihood of targeting her at a reduced cost. To do this, you can restrict the Facebook algorithm to have more opportunities to target Laura.

You could, for instance, further restrict the ad set targeting by adding another interest, such as online shopping or being an active shopper.

After that, the algorithm will look for ladies who fit the selected demographics and are currently browsing for jewelry online and people who prefer shopping online.

If the jewelry in Branslada’s collection is around wellness and yoga with special materials, and Laura also follows yoga, wellness influencers, practices yoga herself, subscribes to yoga Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, is in yoga Facebook groups, reads yoga forums and blogs, etc., then the algorithm will look for women who are actively searching for jewelry online AND like yoga.

Within the settings of Facebook advertisements, it is possible to make adjustments to the targeting with the interests of Yoga, Jewelry, and Online Shopping.

You can refine this targeting in order to target fewer people and have the best chance to target people like Laura, who will be more interested in the products offered by Branslada.

How do I know if I have to target Laura?

How to speak to her on social media?

How to find more people like her?

Define your persona and ideal customer

Determining your persona should be your first order of business before launching an advertising campaign on Facebook.

This will help create ads that will have a better chance to outperform and find an angle that will reach this target in a specific way.

“If you try to talk to everyone, you won’t talk to anyone”.

Focus on a particular target, test it and then optimize and find others with the same process.

Define your marketing angle

The marketing angle is the way you will approach your marketing target, your audience. 

  • For jewelry, which doesn’t really answer a problem, you can test the aesthetic and fashion aspect that represents a certain identity or personality.
  • Have a more focused approach to the jewelry itself and its colors.
  • If there are special patterns or materials, associate them with seasons and celebrities.
  • Use customer testimonials, models, or studio sets.

All these elements are marketing angles and positioning. If you find a winner, you win the jackpot and differentiate yourself from competitors.

Analyze and find similar behaviors

Once you have launched your campaign and accumulated some data, you need to find similar behaviors within your target audiences.

Is it the videos that work best for all audiences?

So you create more video ads.

Are people who like a certain brand more likely to buy your jewelry?

So favoring interests related to your competitors.

Is it people who have social media interests, celebrities, mainstream interests, jewelry, and fashion-related products, or is it broad audiences that work?

So you create more ad sets related to these interests and scale the budget.

You need to analyze your data, understand the similarities and why a certain ad with a specific targeting performs better than another one.

Lookalike Audiences

Facebook has an extremely interesting tool to use once you have data collected on your Facebook page, Instagram, or Facebook pixel via the website…

You will be able to develop audiences deemed to be “similar” to your existing custom audience.

The audience that is most comparable to your existing consumers is the most well-known similar audience.

Because of the information gathered on your website or the list of clients you have uploaded, Facebook can target people who are comparable to your consumer base.

These demographics provide for highly interesting target audiences overall.

Audience Exclusion

There are 2 schools of thought among experts in Facebook advertising campaigns, those who let the Facebook algorithm do the exclusions and those who do the exclusions manually.

I’m part of the first school (new school) that lets Facebook do the exclusions of audiences because I think Facebook is able to do it today in 2022.

I have noticed many times that doing exclusions increases CPMs considerably.

The second school of thought contends that failing to account for audience exclusions can also result in audiences that overlap. This results in internal rivalry on your own campaigns, which in turn leads to higher CPMs.

In 2022, Facebook knows how to exclude audiences from itself; there is no need to do so in your campaigns; the results will not change if you do so, and it does not impact the CPA.

Be mindful that there is a high likelihood of audience overlap when working with cold audiences.

If Laura enjoys jewelry, she will probably also appreciate other jewelry brands that are comparable to her favorite, as well as maybe cosmetics, makeup, and other beauty-related interests.

This means that if you add the jewelry interest to your targeting and create another cosmetic and beauty interest, she will be included in both of those audiences on Facebook. This is the case if you add the jewelry interest to your targeting. The fact that this is the case does not imply that Facebook will target her more than once.

The targeting structure for a campaign

In this section, we will provide you with a fundamental framework that you can use when starting your campaigns.

This does not necessarily indicate that this is the strategy that will be successful for you, but it will provide you with some ideas for launching your future initiatives.

To begin, we strongly suggest that you set up your campaign with a budget spent at the ad set level rather than at the campaign level. This will allow you to test both your targeting and your ads in order to determine the ones that perform the best (ABO, not CBO).

This will make it possible to manage the budget and exercise control over the audience size at the same time.

This is something we advise due to the fact that Facebook has trouble managing audiences of too many various sizes in CBO campaigns at the moment.

For example, if one ad set has 50 million people versus 500,000 for another ad set in the same campaign, Facebook will tend to spend more on the ad set with the larger audience size, even if the results are not the best.

Broad audience

Launching your campaign with an audience without interests is always recommended, only demographic criteria: Country, Gender, and Age if they are important to you.

Product/product category-based interest audience

Create an audience with interests that includes the name of your products e.g. you sell jewelry, you add the interest jewelry, necklace, bracelet, etc.

Competitor brands interests audience

Here you will add competing brands to target people who already like those brands.

Mainstream interest audience

These audiences are specific to your business, for example, for jewelry, you can test the interests: Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty, and Fashion accessories, one by one.

These are generally large audience sizes. 

We recommend adding additional interests in narrow to reduce these audience’s size

Such as:

– Active Shoppers

– Online shoppers

– People who purchase high-income products if you are in luxury or sell premium products.

Audience expansion

When you find interests that perform well in the audiences, you can also duplicate those audiences and check the audience extension to increase the audience size and let Facebook target more people that look like the interests you set up.

Similar audience (lookalike)

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Facebook audience builder tool allows you to create similar audiences. You can use it once you have collected a certain amount of data. The fact that these audiences can be employed in countries other than their own is the primary benefit that they offer.

For instance, if you currently have a significant presence in the market in the United States and you want to test the markets in Canada or Australia, you can construct audiences similar to your customers in the United States in order to target people in Canada. 

Custom audience

Here we come to the retargeting stage. 

This means that you will be retargeting people who have already interacted with your brand on social media, your ads, your website, etc.

The techniques and campaign structure for retargeting are different depending on the size of the audience you have already.

Putting at least 10% of your advertising budget into retargeting is generally recommended.

It can be more if you have an SEO acquisition strategy and a lot of traffic to retarget.

Retargeting will be more important for you, for instance, if you run a blog that receives tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors each month, because you have such a vast audience to target again.

It’s possible that the retargeting campaign will be the only one you run.

Retargeting and custom audiences are typically the most cost-effective advertising methods, but you won’t be able to spend as much money on them because their sizes are rather restricted.

Your company needs a cold audience at the top of the sales funnel to scale.

[The part about retargeting has been removed from the article due to changes in IOS and data management currently in 02/2022, we will update it soon in a new article]

The Ads within the Ad set

Ad creation is the most important step in your Facebook ads strategy. You can have the best ad targeting strategies, but if your ad doesn’t make people want to click on it, you won’t get good results.

Ideally, you want your audience to match your ads.

For example, with the jewelry brand Branslada, if you want to target a 25-year-old audience and you have created ads in street art, urban and offbeat environments, look for trendy, young, current interests.

The targeting should match your creative to be as relevant as possible. From there, you can create a segmentation with an optimized sales funnel.

If you talk about a particular topic in your copywriting, add it to your audience, and add text to your creative, this will reinforce the ad’s relevance.

The best examples are brands that target a particular age and mention it in the ad. Relevance usually results in a good click-through rate, leading to more traffic and mechanically more chance to convert at a lower cost.

Conclusion and Disclaimer

This article is based on our knowledge and expertise after having spent several million for brands, businesses, and companies on different advertising platforms.

Nevertheless, each business is different, depending on the competition, the market, the positioning, and the products or services promoted.

There are many elements to consider when targeting ads, and the ads in the ad sets are a determining factor.

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