Paid Social Ad Targeting (the basics): Go Broad or Go Home
Targeting is an enormous topic when it comes to Facebook ads. So much so, that there is a galactic amount of misinformation out there about targeting on FB, a lot of outdated information, and frankly most people have a very distorted understanding of it.
So I’m going to ask you to approach this with a clean slate in your mind. Because despite the amount of misinformation out there, targeting on FB is probably the easiest, and simplest part of building a successful campaign.
There are countless ads out there from people saying that targeting is the be all and end all, and that you need to be using their secret strategies, their 4 simple steps, or some other crap. It just isn’t true. Yes, in its early days, you could really exploit the targeting features of Facebook, but these days things are much more simplified and there’s a number of reasons for that.
General rule of thumb, if anyone ever tells you that they have some kind of secret sauce, hidden technique, or any other nonsense that suggests that they have some kind of edge over FB or that they someone know how the platform works better than FB do themselves, just steer clear of them. The people that really thrive on this platform, and the people that have a track record of actually managing successful campaigns, understand that targeting success comes from understanding how the tools work, and how Facebook works as a platform.
So what targeting options are available? Which should you pay attention to?
You can target people based on:
- Their location (at that moment, or where they live)
- Demographics, their age and gender
- Their device (iPhone, Android tablet, etc)
- Day and time (most people run their campaigns 24/7, but you can run on selected times and days with lifetime budgets vs daily budgets)
- Placement (FB feed, IG reels, IG stories, etc)
- Interest and behaviours (E.G., vegans that also like cooking, parents that like to travel, etc).
- Custom audiences (your followers, website visitors, people that watched a particular piece of content, customers, etc)
- Lookalike audiences (a very powerful tool where Facebook will essentially provide you with a list of people that are highly similar to a custom audience you provide)
With such a plethora of options available, it’s easy to understand why some people would get overwhelmed with the options, or get VERY granular with their targeting.
As said before, in the past, being very precise was the way to go, and very effective. However, in this day and age, the broader your audience can be, the better, as it gives the algorithm complete freedom to deliver your ads to whoever is responding best to them.
For example the targeting for one of our campaigns (let’s say it’s for a baby product as an example) could look like:
- 20-60 year olds on Facebook, 7 days a week, 6am to 8pm.
Where as a less experienced marketer, may assume that it would be better to target:
- Mums of young children, aged 25-35, that are interesting in early learning centre, work part-time, and donate to charity (based on an avatar that has pulled together based on consumer research).
In theory, audience 2 should do better, it’s more “targeted” right?
Unless you’re using a tiny budget, all this targeting will do is limit the number of people your ads can be served to, increase frequency, and increase CPM’s.
Due to changes in privacy policies, cookies, and GDPR, FB cannot provide you as a marketer the level of specificity that it used to.
Sure, in that audience, some of your target market will be there. But what about the friends, uncles, and grandmothers that could buy it as a gift?
What about the mums that FB doesn’t have segmented as a parent?
What about the mums that donate to charity that also aren’t in that segment, or the early learning centre?
What about the mums outside of those age brackets, do you know for a fact they prefer your product to younger or older mothers? That they have more purchasing power or need for your product?
The Primary thing you should be focussed on with your campaigns, is delivering a great user experience (your website, page, product) and your actual ads, your creative, and your copy.
If your creative and copy get the attention of your customers, and get them to take action, FB will optimise your targeting far better than any human can.
Not to mention it’s FAR easier to scale with broad targeting.
Let the machines do the work! Focus your efforts on producing the best ads, and TESTING different assets and copy, so the market call tell you what your customers respond best to.