10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Advertiser Should Know

Facebook Ads

As most sophisticated marketers know by now, performance advertising on Facebook is significantly different from search engine marketing. While SEM is fundamentally keyword-targeted, meaning advertisers bid on keywords, Facebook Ads is fundamentally profile-targeted, meaning advertisers bid on people. As a result, the ad copy, call to action, and graphics need to be rethought and re-designed for the “people-targeted” Facebook world – not just copied and pasted from your Google AdWords campaign.

As more advertisers and marketers shift more of their attention and budget to Facebook Ads, Facebook’s performance advertising system, it’s crucial to understand the power of Facebook’s targeting capabilities. Here are details on the 11 ways to target Facebook Ads that every performance marketer should know:

1. Location Targeting

Facebook gives advertisers the power to target ads down to the country, state, or city level. This is a powerful way for both national brands and local small businesses to make sure their ads are reaching customers in their target markets. Starting this month, advertisers can now choose multiple countries, states, or cities to target a single campaign against – eliminating the need to have multiple campaigns for multiple geographies. You can target each Facebook Ad to up to 25 countries.

In addition to pure location filters, Facebook also offers Radius Targeting – the ability to target users located within a certain distance from any given city. Radius Targeting makes it easier for local advertisers to reach people living in the greater vicinity of target markets. For example, an advertiser wanting to reach people over 18 in San Francisco could target Facebook users only in San Francisco proper – about 300,000 people. With Radius Targeting, that same advertiser could target people within 10, 25, or 50 miles of San Francisco, expanding the possible reach of the campaign 500% to nearly 1.8 million people.


Facebook determines users’ locations based on IP address lookups. However, Facebook also says that “if a user has listed a current address on their profile, they may see ads targeted to that location, regardless of where they are currently located.” Ads are not targeted to a user’s geographic networks, which are being deprecated from the site.

2. Keyword Targeting

Keyword targeting is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to reach your target audience on Facebook. Say you wanted to promote a new sci-fi movie on Facebook – you could easily target your ad against all users who had placed “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” as interests in their profile.

Facebook targets keywords based on interests, activities, and favorite books, TV shows, movies, or job titles that users list in their Facebook profiles. Facebook also targets keywords based on the names of Pages users are fans of or Groups users belong to. Facebook also suggests keywords sometimes as well. “Our system looks for the keywords that are most common among the users your targeting already encompasses,” Facebook says.

Thus, keyword targeting offers the best opportunities for competitive advertisers to aggressively bid on users with related or rival interests to their own company or brand.

3. Connection Targeting

Connection targeting is perhaps the most robust of Facebook’s recently released targeting features. With connection targeting, advertisers can now target their ad to only reach users who are:

  1. Fans of any of your Pages
  2. Users of any of your Applications
  3. Members of any of your Groups
  4. Attendees of any of your Events

Basically, Facebook wants to make it easy for business and brands to increase engagement with any users they’re connected to on Facebook through Facebook Ads, using it as a paid notification or cross-promotion channel. You can also target users who are connected to one of your Pages/Groups/Apps/Events but not to another in order to do more specific cross-promotions.


However, currently, advertisers are not able to use the new features to target members of any generic Page, App, Group, or Event. That would be very powerful, but would also encourage targeting behavior that Facebook may not want to enable. Nevertheless, as it currently stands Connection Targeting could be a very powerful tool for marketers and developers to re-engage certain segments of their Page’s fan base or application’s user base.

4. Relationship Targeting

Relationship targeting lets advertisers target users based on whether they are single, in a relationship, engaged, or married. This is another stage-of-life targeting feature that is very powerful for marketers. For example, an HDTV retailer may want to target single males in their 20′s in one campaign, but married males in their 30′s in another. Dating companies spend a lot of money targeting single Facebook users, and companies in the wedding industry target engaged users. Advertisers can target ads based on the gender users choose in the “Interested In” field as well.

However, Facebook doesn’t allow advertisers to choose advertising copy that comes across as too negative. For example, ad copy that could be perceived to make users feel bad about being single (or any other relationship status) is likely to be rejected by Facebook’s ad reviews team.

5. Age Targeting

Facebook gives advertisers the power to reach users within any age range, from 13 to 64. This is an important way for advertisers to make sure they’re reaching their target audience. Although you might think the vast majority of Facebook users are under 25, most are actually over 25 – and the number of older users on Facebook has been growing dramatically this year. This means new opportunities exist for advertisers wanting to reach older users, who on average have larger disposable incomes.

6. Birthday Targeting

Birthdays are really special days on Facebook – users who have many friends can typically expect to receive dozens of “Happy Birthday” messages on their Wall, as well as a few Facebook virtual gifts. Now, advertisers can make special offers or promotions to Facebook users on their birthdays – with over 250 million active users, there are about 700,000 Facebook users with birthdays each and every day.

7. Education Targeting

Education targeting offers advertisers the opportunity to reach users based on whether they say they have graduated college, are in college, or are in high school. Obviously, this could be a powerful way to filter users based on stage of life.


Power tip: Once you choose to target users “In College” or who are “College Grads,” Facebook gives advertisers the option to target by major and graduation year as well. This could be great for career-related services like jobs or moving.

8. Sex Targeting

Facebook has allowed advertisers to target users based on their sex since Facebook Ads launched. Keep in mind that Facebook’s population is about 55% female, and women over 55 are the fastest growing sub-segment of Facebook users.

While sex targeting may seem simple, it’s important to think about how men and women behave differently in social settings when crafting your ad creative!

9. Workplace Targeting

Workplace targeting lets advertisers only show their ads to Facebook users who are members of specific company networks. This is absolutely one of the most powerful ways for B2B marketers to reach their target audience on Facebook. For example, ad agencies may want to target ads at companies in their target verticals, or recruiters may want to target people who work at certain companies. Workplace targeting is fantastic for reaching an industry audience and headhunting.

10. Language Targeting

Language targeting is a powerful way for advertisers to reach all users who speak a certain language. This means advertisers wanting to reach all Facebook users who speak Spanish in the United States can now easily do so – an important tool for media companies and agencies working on behalf of language-specific brands.


Facebook Ads offers a powerful array of targeting features, with more still to come – for example, Facebook recently told us that full dayparting would be launching for advertisers in the next few months.

With 250 million active users and growing every day, the Facebook Ads platform is becoming an increasingly important way for performance advertisers to reach their target audience online. Stay tuned to Inside Facebook for the latest details and updates.

For advertisers interested in digging deeper into Facebook marketing, we highly recommend checking out Inside Facebook’s industry-leading Facebook Marketing Bible. The Facebook Marketing Bible has been purchased by thousands of agencies, marketers, and advertisers, and goes in depth on dozens of key tactics and strategies for getting the most out of your Facebook marketing efforts. Click here to learn more.


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Leave a Reply

28 Responses to “10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Advertiser Should Know”

  1. links for 2009-07-27 « innovations in higher education says:

    [...] 10 powerful ways to target Facebook ads that every performance advertiser should know (tags: facebook facebookads targeting marketing reachingstudents) [...]

  2. Matching User Expectations | Social Hacking says:

    [...] advertising networks process vast quantities of personal information to target ads (yes, Facebook does too, but their relationship to the user is quite different).  Rogue applications can steal personal [...]

  3. Troy Vosseller says:

    This is good, but Facebook still doesn’t let you target graduate students at a specific school. It lets you target “college grads” but that’s different from graduate students. I would like that capability.

  4. Social Media Security » Matching User Expectations says:

    [...] advertising networks process vast quantities of personal information to target ads (yes, Facebook does too, but their relationship to the user is quite different).  Rogue applications can steal personal [...]

  5. Carlo Sunseri says:

    Anyone know how to do two variables for keyword? Example: “Lacrosse and Xbox 360″

    How many people have BOTH ‘lacrosse’ and ‘Xbox 360′ in their profile?

  6. Facebook Marketing says:

    when will they let users buy homepage placements again??

    engagement ads need to be sold on their self served system just like on google!

  7. Facebook App Developer says:

    Very nice and informative information about Facebook ads. Very powerful ways.

  8. Friday Blog Scan: Things We Liked from the Week That Was | Clean Slate says:

    [...] departments of your companies or setting up fan pages on Facebook, InsideFacebook published 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook ads Every Performance advetisor should know. As more advertisers shift their attention and budget to Facebook Ads, it’s crucial to understand [...]

  9. Online Farming: From Acquisition to Monetization « says:

    [...] three games on Facebook. FarmVille is arguably the fastest growing Facebook game ever, thanks to targeted performance advertising and heavy cross-promotion throughout the Zynga network. Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus said in a recent [...]

  10. Advertising on Facebook | Copenhagen INK says:

    [...] So if you are a advertiser a good starting point could be to head over to InsideFacebook to get some more info on how to use Facebook in a smart way – first stop could be: 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Advertiser Should Know. [...]

  11. Online dating. Best tips. » Online Dating Industry Links 7-28-09 says:

    [...] 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Advertiser Should Know. [...]

  12. Rick Stomphost says:

    I don’t see the “Connections” option for targeted ads. Is this new or removed? I’ve read where targeting ads to groups is non-existent, yet you’ve included a screen-capture contradicting that.

    Does the “Connections” option have to be enabled? Is if available outside of the U.S., like Canada?

  13. Facebook, ma vie point log | Viadeo Blog says:

    [...] c’est aussi beaucoup plus qu’un outil permettant d’adresser le plus précis des messages à la plus précise des cibles, reléguant le spot d’un anti-cholesterol casé entre deux épisodes de Derrick sur France 3 [...]

  14. 8 Best Practices for Recruiters on Facebook | Baitbox.co.za says:

    [...] 7. Companies and connections:The ad tool lets you select ads for people within specific companies, based on what workplace networks they’ve joined, and what companies they list in their personal profiles. Use this information to go after the employees of your client’s competitors. You can also target ads based to people who areconnected to your Page, group, event or application (or, conversely, to the people who are not connected to any of these features). You can also broaden the previous options to friends of people who are (or are not) connected to your Page or to other features. Think of this sort of ad as being focused on users who have already expressed some sort of interest in your company or your general industry. Target the content in this type of ad specifically to what interested and informed people will be thinking, anyway. We go into more detail, here: 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads That Every Performance Advertiser Should Know. [...]

  15. Read This Link » 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Ad says:

    [...] 10 Powerful Ways to Target Facebook Ads Every Performance Ad [...]

  16. Online Farming: From Acquisition to Monetization says:

    [...] three games on Facebook. FarmVille is arguably the fastest growing Facebook game ever, thanks to targeted performance advertising and heavy cross-promotion throughout the Zynga network. Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus said in a recent [...]

  17. Mudit says:

    wish if they were more targeted … In India we are just allowed to target the Whole country and we can not select bet. cities. CPC and CPM keeps on Increasing … now they are getting tricky on that. but overall if you get free coupons then its worth it … :D or else not!

  18. Warren says:

    This could be very effective as long as you have a high enough profit margin in whatever you offer. I can’t see it working for products or services you only get a buck or two for converting.

  19. Robert Wilkinson says:

    Thank you, that is exactly what I wanted to know. I though I was missing something by not being able to target specific groups around a specific subject. This would be the ultimate targetted marketing.
    I will certainly use what you said about age groups though (that should cut the people down by about 70%) and set up my own group and then target them too. Thanks again for you help.

  20. thanos says:

    great article man very useful for a full time blogger like myself

  21. Quora says:

    What types of advertisers have had/are having the most success using Facebook Ads?…

    The great thing about Facebook ads is that any company, regardless of size or product, can find success on the site. You can check out http://www.facebook.com/FacebookAds for some great tips on how to get started. You can also fill out the help form if…

  22. Utopian Max says:

    is more keywords selection better Or should only few keywords suffice?

  23. david says:

    This is nice, but the problem I have is that I need to target people with multiple interests. READING is too broad, so I need to target people who like both READING and SCIENCE FICTION. When i create a facebook ad, it generalizes and says – this will target people who like science fiction or reading… this is no good! How do i target my TARGETS? please help.

  24. + is Facebook the real stalker? by lainie blusztein « + thriver-sphere says:

    [...] site in order to help advertisers pinpoint their target audiences. We’ve all heard of targeted Facebook ads, but this is taking it to the next level. No longer are you just being targeted because of [...]

  25. Si le display devenait utile ? « l'avant post says:

    [...] d’un public vis à vis d’un contenu (ou d’un certain contexte). Une démarche amorcée par Facebook, Google, et dans une moindre mesure Apple, vis à vis de leurs usagers qui va rapidement trouver [...]

  26. Advertising on Facebook | johnfossett says:

    [...] http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/07/27/10-powerful-ways-to-target-facebook-ads-that-every-performa… [...]

  27. Mentos & mobile marketing: be where your customers are | PR and Political Communication Commentary says:

    [...] to know where your customers are and create ads specifically to reach them. (Ever wonder why the Facebook ads that pop up are so relevant to you? It’s certainly no accident.) To truly be with your customers wherever you go, mobile marketing [...]

  28. Facebook Marketing | TribalCafe says:

    [...] can advertise on it – using 10 different criteria; in different combinations and it tells you how many impressions you will [...]

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