One of the most common “ah-ha” moments clients have when we work on their Facebook ads are the many, many ways to target when using Facebook’s Ads Manager. Without even digging into “next level” audience targeting using your Facebook pixel, email list, people who watched your videos, or engaged with your Business Page, there are so many effective ways to target a cold audience on Facebook. Let’s take a look.

Facebook Ad Targeting Options

Facebook Ad Targeting Options

There’s no reasonable way to make a complete list of every possible targeting option that’s included within Facebook ads. And honestly, no one would want to search through a list that long even if it was possible. So to help you start to plan ways to target a cold audience of your ideal customers, let’s look at the main categories of targeting options available.

  • Demographics Probably the most obvious ways to target Facebook users with your ads is through demographics. But beyond the basics like age, gender, location, and language are additional demographic points like education level, job title, employer, and industry. You can even target life events such as newly engaged or recently moved.
  • Parents Within the Demographics section of Facebook’s ad targeting is also where you need to visit if locating parents is important for you. Finding parents on Facebook is a common targeting point for many of my clients, so I wanted to call it out on its own. There used to be targeting options like “stay at home mom”, “trendy mom”, “green mom”, etc., but those were removed. However, you can target parents, and even parents of kids of certain ages. For example, Parents of Infants, Parents of Toddlers (ages 1-2), Parents of Preschoolers (ages 3-5), all the way up to Parents of Adult Children (ages 18-26). If you are looking for moms specifically, choose your parent category(ies) and then narrow by gender.
  • Topics and Pages After all your demographic options, the practically-endless list of other ways to target an audience for your ads basically shakes out to 2 main categories: Topics and Pages. These are two HUGE categories, and you’ll absolutely find plenty of choices within these 2 categories. To explain the difference between Topics and Pages, let’s use BBQ as an example. Topics you could target if you want to reach a BBQ audience would be: barbecue, grilling, barbecue grill, brisket, ribs, and smoked meat. If you wanted to target fans of BBQ-related Business Pages, you might choose the Business Pages of KC Masterpiece, Sweet Baby Ray’s, Traeger Grills, and Weber Grills. Another example would be the targeting of dog owners. If you want to reach dog owners on Facebook, some interests would be dogs, dog lovers, dog training, and specific dog breeds like Cocker Spaniel and German Shepherd. Whereas Business Pages that dog owners would be connected to could be Business Pages like American Kennel Club, Westminster Kennel Club, Purina, Pedigree, Iams, Petco, and Petsmart.

A Few Notes on Facebook Targeting Options

  • Facebook can make a change to available targeting options at any moment. We’ve already seen that when they eliminated most of the purchase behaviors and household income options that were all being pulled in from outside, 3rd party sources, when they began to require use of Business Manager to upload customer email lists, and prohibited targeting by zip code.
  • Not all Pages or possible Interests are available for targeting. And unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t have a definitive rule on how this works. Generally speaking, Pages with lots of Likes (in the tens of thousands on up) can be targeted. But I’ve been able to locate a Page to target that has 5,000 Likes and haven’t been able to target larger Pages that have 40,000 Likes. The best thing to do is walk through the ad build process and try typing in any of the Interests and Pages you’d hope to find, and see what pulls up.
  • Once you figure out what targeting options are available for you, test a few ads! You might find that dumping every possible targeting option into 1 audience yields just so-so ad results, but if you separate out your targeting options into smaller, like segments, that works better. For example, you might decide that career details plus newspapers or magazines are the best ways to target your ideal customer type. Instead of putting together job titles, industries, and employers with publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, place your job titles, industries and employers into 1 audience, and your publications into a different audience, and then run a split test campaign to see which audience works better for you. And of course, if you find the audiences work equally well, you can feel OK about combining them into one larger audience for future ads.

There is no shortage of ways to locate your ideal client through Facebook ads, but it’s going to be key to test the targeting options you do find in order to determine what targeting options perform best for you.


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