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Facebook Ads are Changing the Way We Advertise Online

Published: December 4, 2013

Author: James Scherer

FacebookGoogle’s been targeting its ads based on search keywords for many years now, and that’s awesome. But they can’t target an ad to an individual, or someone similar to that individual. Nor can they target to a group of people based on the section of your sales-funnel they’re in.
Facebook can.
This is a whole new world, people. So let’s see what it holds.
In this article, I’m going to discuss Facebook Ad targeting by custom lists, dive into lookalike audiences, and go waist deep in ad re-targeting. I’ll explain them in a simple, easy-to-understand way and give you concrete examples of how these targeting strategies can be used best, and why they’re changing the way we think about advertising.

Custom List Targeting

Your business already has a list of people you can target with Facebook Ads. This could be the same list you contact with a monthly newsletter, marketing emails, or your merchant list. You keep these in an awesome CRM, an email service (like Gmail or Outlook), or an overflowing filing cabinet in your office (hopefully not the latter).
These email addresses or phone numbers correspond to their owner on Facebook. Your Facebook Ad tool will allow you to input them line by line. Facebook then takes these details and amalgamates the information into a list of users who you know are interested in what your business has to offer.
I’ve included (below) an example of a Facebook Ad made exclusive to existing customers:
How you can use it:

-Create an ad for entrants after a contest is over: Consolation Prize! // Enter here for $10 free credit toward your next purchase with AcmeShades.
-Give one more opportunity: Doing it again! // Invite your friends for one more chance to win a $500 gift card to AcmeShades this Christmas.
-After purchasing: Thanks for buying! // Your purchase entitles you to a 50% discount on the AcmeGlassesCase. Enter here!
-Exclusive to recent/frequent purchasers: Thank you! // We’re rewarding our most loyal customers with a chance at $250!

And yes, your ads tool allows you to save any imported contact list within its own CRM. This means you can come back and target to that list again and again with different ads, contests, and emails.
These are people who are already nurtured leads. You know they like what you’re selling, as they’ve bought, or downloaded, or otherwise engaged with your business before.
Click-through-Rates on your average Facebook Ad are around .03. With Custom Audience targeting it’s not unheard of to see .15 and above.

Pro Tip: Segment your custom audiences in the same way you do your email marketing. You’ll get higher click-through rates on your ads if you’re sending them to an optimized target audience. And keep track of who saw which ad, when, as the last thing you want to do is spam your existing customers (or they’ll become non-existent customers).

Lookalike Audience

Once you’ve created a Custom Audience in your Facebook Ad tool, you can create what’s called a lookalike audience. A lookalike audience is exactly what it sounds like: an audience of users generated by Facebook that best matches your imported contact list.
Facebook examines demographic similarities like age segment, gender, and location as well as precise interests and broad categories (information like marital status, children, job title, etc). An algorithm within Facebook matches these demographic details with existing Facebook users and finds the best possible match for your next ad.
Why are lookalike audiences the next best thing in advertising?
You’ve worked long and hard to generate the leads you have. Lookalike audiences allow you to use those leads for more than just a possible sale. You can use them to find new leads — and use that set of leads to find another!
How you can use it:

-Create a lead-generating ad, landing page, or contest
-Import the list of generated leads into your Facebook Ad tool and create a custom list
-Create a lookalike audience from that list
-Run a similar ad or contest to that lookalike list
-Rinse and repeat

Basically, what you’ve now done is generated a set of leads interested in your business (whether that interest is in an ebook, a gift card, or a product). You’ve then generated another list of people extremely similar to that first list and targeted them with something that you know people like them are interested in.

Retargeting your Facebook Ads

Retargeting is, like a lookalike audience, exactly what it sounds. With a retargeting tool (like ReTargeter or AdRoll), you can specifically focus your ad on individuals who have trafficked to any page of your website. You can segment your ads based on the stages these individuals have reached within your sales funnel.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re running a Facebook Ad for a free weekend spa getaway contest. Say 150 people traffic from your ad to the contest’s landing page on your website, but only 80 of those people convert and enter the contest.
Because you’ve placed a re-targeting trigger on that landing page and the Facebook Ad itself (they’re little bits of code, or ‘pixels’), you know exactly which 70 people from Facebook didn’t enter. They were interested, but your landing page didn’t grip them.
WIth Facebook re-targeting, you can create a new ad focused on providing them with more information, a better value-proposition, or a more desirable reward. You’re paying less in ad spend (because Facebook Ads are PPC) to reach a select group of people who you know are intrigued by what your business offers.


Hopefully you have a better idea how Facebook’s advanced targeting tools can optimize your ads for click-through-rates and conversions. How you can target segments of your email list, and then target people similar to that segment, and then re-target those individuals who advanced to a certain page within your website!
We’re seeing changes in online advertising on a monthly, and even weekly, basis – and a lot of them are coming out of Facebook. It’s changing the way we do digital marketing. No longer are we excited by targeting people by their previous buying patterns or stated interests. We’re targeting ads based on name, by specific product they showed interest in, and by stage in our sales funnel.
What do you think is next for online advertising? Start the conversation below.

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