Social Media

15 Effective Ad Targeting Options in Facebook That You Should Consider

As an agency, when we are asked to execute a campaign on Facebook and we hear who the “target audience” is, we would sometimes hear a vague and imprecise description that we like to refer to as the “women between 18 and 49 who like stuff target audience”. 

This breadth in targeting is counter-productive in a performance marketing framework. With Facebook Ads' variety of targeting options, the potential is enormous. We want to show you some ideas you can use today so that you really go deep into your targeting and experiment. This way you can find a segment that really responds to your messages. The segment that really gets your brand.

Keep in mind here that the better your targeting, the more efficiently your marketing dollars are spent and the more relevant you are to your audience. An additional factor to remember is that it is easier to increase your marketing budget if you can better able to justify who you are reaching with it. 

Here are 15 ideas about potential audience targeting on Facebook that you are probably not considering: 

1. People around an exact physical address

People in traditional media have done this forever: placing billboards and ads around a specific location. Well, now that a very high majority of people on Facebook access it uniquely on mobile, you can execute the same strategy: simply add in the exact address and the distance from it (1 mile for example) and boost your in-store traffic. As you can imagine, this is also fantastic for limited time events. 

2. Parents (of toddlers, teenagers, etc.)   

A lot of brands would be very happy to target parents uniquely. But it gets better: you can target parents of children within a specific age range which helps you to really efficiently and effectively invest your dollars. We recently had a client that wanted to target mothers of toddlers because their product was unique to that segment. Instead of targeting women within a specific range and just guessing, they were able to target this exact segment.

3. Specific industry, company or job title  

A lot of people see Facebook as a simple B2C platform and neglect it when thinking about their B2B strategy. You have to keep in mind here that you are able to target specific job titles, specific industries and specific companies. Imagine you are a startup that has created a new web analytics solution and is trying to enter the crowded analytics market today: you can target people who work in digital marketing agencies, who have Digital Analyst in their title, who work in the field, etc.

4. College students with upcoming birthdays

One of our major clients is all about parties. And you know who is really into parties: college students who are about to have their birthday. And guess what, on Facebook you are able to target people who have their birthday coming up in one week. Once you combine that to include only people in university, things get amazing. Our client was very happy to reach its exact target audience.

5. People living abroad

Imagine a bank has a special promotion to open a bank account that is specifically targeted to  foreigners or people who moved and are now living in Canada. How would you go about reaching these people? In this case, Expats from different countries living now in Canada or people living away from home, international students are most likely people need a bank account and you can select those targeting options inside the interface. 

6. People owning iPhone 6S (or any mobile device really) 

Think about the fact that you can target people who own the iPhone 6S. It is the latest phone from Apple and it comes with a hefty price tag. That is a high quality signal about the audience that has these devices (maybe you want to reach an early adopter persona). If you are an e-commerce player in the luxury industry, this type of knowledge might be very valuable for you. You are not targeting people who like or are simply interested in the new iPhone, you are targeting the audience that physically has those devices. 

7. Travelers (business travelers, frequent travelers, expats) 

Not only are you able to target travelers (which in itself is very broad) but you can narrow it down to different segments such as business travelers, commuters and frequent travelers. These audiences can be very valuable for advertisers in the tourism industry. You are probably wondering: how does Facebook know this? Well, it is simple. As we mentioned earlier, the majority of the traffic now on Facebook is on mobile and that clearly gives an additional data point to Facebook to better understand its users movements and travels. And if your budget is on a string, consider going really niche in terms of traveling interests: people interested in ecotourism or adventure travel--don’t limit yourself to any broad categories. 

8. People in specific colleges & universities 

One of our major clients had a nationwide campaign that they wanted to personalize each ad for the specific university the person was attending or was an alumni of. As you can imagine, with Facebook you can zero in on the number who are attending or have attended a specific university. So imagine you want to personalize your message to McGill University students, Facebook would be a very effective way to do so at scale. You also have to take into account the fact that you can target people who went to McGill and graduated at a specific time or the international students there. You can be very specific in your audience selection when it comes to students. 

9. People similar to your high-value paying customers 

Ok, this requires a bit more work. What you need to do here is to leverage the Facebook Custom Audience feature and upload a segmented list of your customers’ emails but only those who have a high average order value or who purchase very frequently. (You are already thinking: It would be amazing if I can show ads to these customers. Yes, yes you can.). But let’s take this one step further: create an audience similar to those people by leveraging the Facebook algorithm and creating what is called a lookalike audience. So in this way you would be targeting people who have very similar profiles to your existing customers! 

10. Relationship type 

If your offering depends in any way on the type of a relationship the person is in (say, you are running a dating site) it would be incredibly valuable to target people who are in a specific phase in their life, whether they are engaged, single, in a relationship, etc. And anyone who has worked in traditional media knows the value of targeting the newly weds. Yes, that’s an option too. 

11. Expectant parents

We saved one of the best for last. You might remember the article that appeared in the New York Times about the predictive models that Target was building to find expectant mothers before they even had their baby. Of course the article created a stir in terms of today’s privacy and how much information companies have on us, but another aspect of the article was how highly valuable that audience was. As people change habits during major life events (such as pregnancy) and start purchasing new products, it is an opportunity for a lot of brands to position themselves. This audience is available on Facebook and a lot of brands would want to position themselves in front of these people.

12. Daily activities 

Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it but you don’t want to target people based on their interests but based on a specific activity that they do. If you know that your product is used in a specific context consider targeting by daily activity. For some of our clients we have used the following ideas: girls night in, girls night out, day drinking in summer, etc. You get the idea. Think about how your product fits in a daily activity and target those. 

13. Type of consumer 

Of course, if you understand your audience well you can use additional interests to fully craft your persona. If you are in the luxury goods domain, it would make sense to select Luxury Goods in the interface. Same goes for adding in discount stores. Add these interests if you know your consumer well and the persona you have developed. 

14. People who recently moved 

This is a very valuable audience for any retailer or any business that offers its services to people who recently moved into a new place. You know that they might require few things for their new place so you can position yourself right in front of that audience.

15. Very specific wellbeing topics 

Ok, let’s do a fun one for closure. If you are a food retailer or restaurant you don’t simply want to target any people interested in general well being. There are so many varieties that you want to zero in. Did you know you can target people interested in vegan recipes? In smoothies?


Maybe some of these audiences are very small. Maybe you will only reach tens of thousands of people (which for some clients is a lot, for other peanuts). Maybe it will be expensive to reach them. But one thing is for certain. You will be trading off carpet-bombing type of marketing for something that is strategic, precise and aimed at the right person. This is what we’re after in our craft: reaching the right audience with the right message. And with a platform like Facebook that allows us such precise targeting, it will be a shame to let this opportunity go to waste. 

So stop going broad. Zero in. The right message to the right people.

This article was originally written by Maria Angoso.

comments powered by Disqus