Email, phone number and user ID targeting: how Facebook is helping businesses reach the right audiences

Power Editor users with managed accounts will be able to use the Facebook’s new custom audience targeting option starting today. Ads API partners will be able to request access to build this functionality for managed accounts as well.

The feature allows companies to target ads to users by email, phone number or user ID if those users have previous opted into providing that information to the advertiser. For example, an online retailer would have a list of customer email addresses and developers would have UIDs for people who use their apps. The idea is to give companies like these an opportunity to reach their existing customers and leads through Facebook rather than increasingly less effective channels such as email.

Businesses that set up Facebook pages often have a difficult time finding an audience to follow them there. Most people won’t “Like” a Facebook page unless they actually like the entity the page represents. Marketers have found ways to get users to do this anyway, for example, through fan-gated promotions or “Click Like if you agree” calls to action in ads. But these fans might not end up being valuable.

Strategic marketers run page-Like campaigns targeted to users who are most likely to already like their business, though that isn’t always easy, even with Facebook’s extensive demographic and interest targeting options. For example, an insurance company might have a general idea who to target, but the parameters are likely to be so broad that millions of impressions are wasted on users who won’t convert to fans. Even a consumer product can struggle. A user who Likes one beverage brand on Facebook might strongly dislike their competitor, so targeting those interests might not be effective. And sometimes users don’t have enough Likes and interests in their profile to represent what they are actually interested in.

Now with custom audience targeting, companies can reach the people who are most likely to respond to their ads: those who have already connected with them in other channels. Advertisers can layer on demographic, interest or other targeting options to serve more relevant messages to different groups within their databases. Facebook says a financial services company involved in the beta doubled its fan base in two weeks, with a lower cost-per-fan than previous campaigns. Once a company has converted its email or phone number list into fans of its Facebook page, it can continue to remarket to users through organic and promoted posts that get seen in News Feed.

As for user ID targeting, this is ideal for app developers. Developers have long been able to target ads to users who had connected to their apps, but this can be too broad in some cases. There are options to target users by custom actions they’ve taken in an app, but only if the app has integrated Open Graph. Now developers can segment their users and create custom audiences for more engaged or less engaged users. Then they can deliver the right marketing message to get them back in the app or to try a new one. Facebook tells us that a developer in the beta saw 2-3x the ROI it usually gets with re-engagement campaigns.

How it works

Advertisers working with a Facebook ad rep will have access to custom audience targeting in Power Editor next to the Page Posts tab. If the option is not there now, they may have to request it from their partner at Facebook. Those who do not have managed accounts will not be able to use this feature yet.

Marketers can upload CSV or TXT files to Facebook, which hashes the data so users’ identities and information are protected. Facebook then runs this list against its own hashed database to find matches that can be targeted with ads. When this is done, the data is discarded, neither side collects more information about users. Hashed data cannot be decrypted.

Just as with other Facebook ads, the estimated reach can not be fewer than 20 users, so a company will not be able to serve ads to an individual user by email address, phone number or user ID. Some users have added backup email addresses to Facebook or listed a number of addresses on their profile over the years. Facebook will try to find a match among any of these. We imagine part of the reason why the social network hid users’ email addresses from Timeline earlier this year was to prevent people from scraping this data and using it for ad targeting.

After the advertiser’s and Facebook’s hashed data is compared, ads will be targeted to matches that fit the advertiser’s overall targeting criteria. Advertisers will be able to see what percentage of their audience they reached, but if they want to run additional campaigns, they’ll have to upload and hash their data again since it is discarded each time for security.

Facebook has updated its Help Center with FAQ about the feature.

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3 Responses to “Email, phone number and user ID targeting: how Facebook is helping businesses reach the right audiences”

  1. Select Facebook Advertisers Can Target Ads By Email, Phone Number, User ID - AllFacebook says:

    [...] The ability to target ads to Facebook users by email, phone number, or user ID was rolled out to users of the social network’s power editor with managed accounts Wednesday, and ads application-programming-interface partners can request access to the functionality for their managed accounts, as well, according to a report in sister blog Inside Facebook. [...]

  2. Facebook Email Targeting & CRM Retargeting: Important New Tools for Marketers « Science of Revenue says:

    [...] few weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a new advertising feature that allows marketers to display ads to targeted recipients selected via email address, phone [...]

  3. 6 Ways Digital Marketers Can Use Custom Audiences with Facebook Ads | Silverpop Blog says:

    [...] recently announced that digital marketers can now use its “Custom Audiences” features to run advertising campaigns [...]

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