Understanding Facebook’s Targeting Options

After a few false starts, Facebook has finally proven itself as a legitimate advertising channel that in some ways even beats traditional banner ads in terms of conversions and engagements. However, it’s not a magic bullet and you’re not likely to see any benefits if you don’t make an effort to do some targeting. Thankfully, Facebook itself provides users with several options for targeting, all of which improve the conversions AND helps increase you ROI.


First, Use Facebook Data to Refine Ad Targeting

Technically, this is not really a tip because you don’t have to do anything if you’re already using Facebook ads, as they take advantage of user data by default. It’s just worth noting that the true strength of Facebook when compared to traditional advertising channels is the wealth of user data that they have accumulated.

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Facebook enjoys partnerships with various data giants like Acxiom, Epsilon, and Datalogix, and they also have access to all the data that users themselves provided freely – and these are more powerful because they’re not just based on analysis of click behavior, but on actual data that people provided specifically (e.g. people on Facebook readily give away their preferences on products and interests.)

With the above in mind, it is easy to understand why you need to take advantage of Facebook’s wealth of targeting options, such as:

Demographic Data

It used to be that Facebook kept their wealth of demographic data away from the average user, only giving access to advertisers who use the power editor, but they have recently made it available to any advertiser via the Facebook Ad Creation Tool. Accessing the wealth of demographic data is as easy as creating an ad and scrolling down to the Audience options under the Text and Links box, then clicking the More Demographics button. Voila! You now have access to 10 categories with 10 subsets each, which amounts to over 100 segmented demographic targeting options that range from Relationship to Education, to Politics, Ethnic Activity, and anything in between.

Ability to Segment Interests In Order to Lower Costs

In the past, Facebook only allowed advertisers to segment audience based on Interests, which meant that they had to cast a wide net in order to capture as much of their target audience as possible. The approach worked, but it was costly as they were also reaching audiences that are outside of their target demographic.

With their recent changes, Facebook has now expanded their pool of Interests to include pages that users have liked, as well as their activities. This allows advertisers to further hone their targeting to ensure that they only advertise to people they want. This will save a lot on advertising costs, by virtue of lowering cost per click and raising click through rate.

Don’t Prioritize Behavior Targeting

Facebook has powerful Behavior Targeting options, allowing you to target even behaviors based on an audience’s offline activities (for instance, the Automotive category also has submenus for New Vehicle Buyers, which is near market, New Vehicle Shoppers, which is in market, and Used Vehicle Buyers, which is also in market.) Advertisers have the option of boosting their conversion rate by developing highly targeted ad campaigns centered on the type of car the audience is looking for.

However, Behavior targeting can be very expensive, when Demographics and Interest combined can provide similar CTR while costing less. So make sure you have the budget for it first, if you do – you’ll find that Behavior targeting can be a veritable goldmine.

The Key Takeaway

The key takeaway with Facebook’s targeting options is that it is important to learn how to target the right audience, and Facebook’s data makes that easier by giving advertisers various ways to segment their audience. Before plunking down money on an extensive campaign, you might want to run some A/B split tests first in order to determine the best option for your business.

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