Are You Making the Most of Facebook Custom Audiences?

We all know that Facebook has become a major force in today’s world. From communicating with Facebook Messenger, entertainment with the Facebook Watch tab, to buying and selling with Facebook Marketplace, the social giant has gradually spread into almost every aspect of our daily lives.

That reach has led to a nearly 60% penetration among internet users. With that kind of success it’s easy to see the potential in using the social media giant in your marketing strategy moving forward. One thing to keep in mind, however, is currently, Facebook generates 98% of its revenue through ads. That translates to a lot of competition for consumer attention. Even with over 2 billion Facebook users logging on, marketers must strive to make their messaging as targeted as possible if they hope to achieve success.

The good news is, Facebook knows this and has provided several ways to help you target and reach a very precise audience. Facebook likes to call it their custom audience options. What are Facebook custom audiences? How do you use them? Read on and find out.

Facebook custom audiences created with a customer list.

The most straight-forward option available for building custom audiences is creating an audience from a pre-existing customer list or even a prospect list.

Using this method a custom audience is created by information you already have such as customer phone numbers and emails.

This information is cross-referenced with Facebook users. Once the audience is created you have the ability to actively target (or retarget) those you have previously had contact with or done business with in the past.

Facebook custom audiences created with a website audience.

Audiences Built by Website ActivityTaking a step beyond a simple customer list is the capability to target anyone who has visited your website, and thus shown interest in your company or products. Building this type of custom audience requires the use of the Facebook pixel.

The pixel is basically a customized “cookie” specially designed for Facebook. Using this, Facebook can track the flow of traffic to your site and the activity once they are there. This information can then be used to more effectively retarget them on the social media platform.

This is helpful because it not only allows you to see who is going to your website, but more importantly what they are doing while they are there (completing forms, applications, etc.).

Facebook custom audiences created with app activity.

Audiences Built by App ActivityIn the same vein of creating a custom audience by tracking website activity, this option allows you target anyone who has been active on your mobile app. The app activity is tracked through the use of what are called mobile advertiser ID’s.

Advertiser ID’s play the same role for mobile devices that “cookies” do for desktop computers and laptops. It’s just another way to help track activity such as clicks and app downloads. There are three variations of ad ID’s used by Facebook to create custom audiences based on app activity.

Apple’s Advertising Identifier (IDFA)

– Used for Apple products with IOS

Android’s Advertising ID

– Used for Android users

Facebook User App ID

– Tracks the activity of users who use an app that can access the Facebook SDK.

Facebook custom audiences created with engagement activity.

This type of custom audience is created based on users engaging with your content across Facebook and its related apps. This of course helps you accurately target those who are interested in and actively engaging with content you are producing.

Engagement activity is divided into the following categories:


    1. Video

      – Targeting based on users who watched your videos, portions of your videos, or multiple selections of videos.

    2. Lead Form

      – Audiences based on lead form interactions. This is not limited to a completed form. For example it’s possible to include those who opened a form, but did not complete it.

    3. Canvas

      – Based on canvas ad interactions. This can be refined to include those simply opened the ad, or to those that opened the ad and then clicked a link within the canvas ad.

    4. Facebook Page

      – Engagement audiences built by using a combination of up to five variables of interactions between Facebook users and your page:

      • Users who have visited your page
      • Engagement with posts or ads
      • Call-to-action button clicks
      • Those who sent a message to your page
      • Users who have saved your page or one of your posts


    5. Instagram Business Page

      – Very similar to Facebook page engagement, but this uses the engagement of an Instagram business profile instead.

    6. Event

      – Allows you to build audiences by including or excluding users by their interest in an event (whether they have clicked attending, not attending, or interested).

Facebook custom audience created with lookalike audiences.

Lookalike AudiencesLookalike audiences are built by finding other Facebook users who are similar to already existing customers.

A source audience is chosen (a customer list or another custom audience list) and a lookalike audience is created from that information. Lookalike audiences also give the option to choose size.

  • Smaller audiences will be more targeted and have a higher resemblance to your original source audience.
  • Larger audiences give you a bigger pool of potential customers, but the larger the audience becomes those similarities become reduced. Facebook recommends an audience of between 1,000-50,000 to try and maximize effectiveness.

Are you taking advantage of all the tools Facebook has to offer?

As you can see, there are several great options available to marketers on Facebook designed to help them reach their ideal target audience. The more precise you are able to make your targeting, the better your chances of success.

As wonderful as the custom audience tools made available are, you can go even further. With a rich database of actionable data such as EDA or RigDig you can begin the process of narrowing down the potential target audience before building a custom audience on Facebook. In addition to that, the data available from EDA and Rigdig can be used as a custom audience within Facebook as well.

Refining and narrowing your target audience through the use of information available through the databases mentioned and the use of Facebook custom audiences can help you get the most out of your efforts.

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