Facebook’s targeting optimisation is becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable of automation. While this is great news for making your acquisition campaigns more streamlined and efficient with little effort on your part, the question is how to make sure they are structured in a way that works with Facebook’s constantly evolving algorithm.

The goal here is to build your ad sets with targeting that is high quality without restricting Facebook’s optimisation. Having a large but high-value pool of users will give your ad sets a longer life and allow you to scale budgets without significantly increasing costs, as Facebook will be able to target a larger number of users likely to convert and for longer. To achieve this, we’ve put together the following five steps to ensure that your targeting decisions work with Facebook rather than against it:

Step #1: Choose your testing wisely

It’s likely you already have an idea of who your target audience is – their age, gender, location, what device they’re likely to use most, etc.

Some of these will be set in stone and you will want to layer them over all other targeting to make sure you are only reaching the relevant demographics. Others you may be less sure of and want to test, such as which gender is more high value for you to target.

The key is to focus on only being granular enough to test what you need to, and no more.

Example: If you only want to test desktop vs mobile, split your ad sets by the two but keep all other demographics the same. Keeping devices split will allow you to apply specific budgets based on their relative performance and adjust as needed, whilst Facebook’s targeting algorithm will take care of refining the other demographic targeting for you. Remember you can still split your reporting by whatever parameters you like.

Step #2: Identify your most valuable audience

Audiences should be broad enough that you get a good reach and delivery, but high enough quality that you get a strong and consistent conversion rate and ROI. You’ll want to reach the highest-value users within your target demographic – the people who are most likely to convert – without restricting delivery by going too niche (more on this in step 3!). Think about what type of users have taken the most valuable actions and how you can utilise your CRM data, the Facebook pixel and interests to reach them. Remember: you don’t need to use every single bit of data available to you, because it won’t all be useful!

Example: You could target a lookalike of everyone who has visited your website in the last year, but this is vague and unlikely to perform for a long time. Instead, try a lookalike of users who have spent the top 25% of time on site, or who have visited your thank you page after converting. The custom audiences for these will be smaller, but the lookalikes will be higher value!

Step #3: Don’t get too granular!

This probably goes against everything you’ve been told, but bear with me on this!

Remember that Facebook wants to get you the highest-value conversions it can at the best price, but it does this by using the conversions you’ve already had as a template. Facebook needs approximately 50 actions in a week driven by your ads in order to optimise towards that action. If the pool of users you provide is too small, the initial conversion volume will be low and it will struggle to know who to target in order to meet your aims and you’ll see reduced delivery and high costs.

Facebook Audience Venn Diagram

Rather than using precise audiences with separate budgets, it is now more efficient to allow Facebook a certain degree of freedom. Try grouping your audiences together rather than giving them individual ad sets, and let Facebook make the more granular spend adjustments automatically. Giving it a broader audience to work with shouldn’t be scary; its advanced machine learning means it is getting better at identifying who should see your brand’s ads and who will take the desired actions.

A perk of doing this is that you avoid audience overlap; the audiences work together rather than against each other, helping you to spend and reach people efficiently without wasting budget.

Step #4: Keep an eye on audience size

Layering different audience types, i.e. interests with lookalikes, will make your audience groups more relevant but more niche, as people need to be within both to be included. This is only good to an extent – make your targeting too narrow and you’ll encounter those spend and delivery issues mentioned earlier. Focus on grouping the same audience types – this will increase audience size rather than decrease it.

Facebook Targeting Audience Size

If the audiences are relevant and high-quality, you won’t need to worry about value becoming too watered down. Facebook’s intelligent algorithm will first choose to target the users who are most likely to take the action you want, defined by your campaign objective – by making the audience larger, you ensure that this process is not restricted.

Step #5: Find the balance that works for you!

While broad audience groups generally perform best, there will always be certain audiences which are less valuable to you. Try different combinations to find the balance of delivery and value you need to drive great performance.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the targeting possibilities available on Facebook. Understanding each type and discovering which is most valuable for your business, and following the tips above to use them effectively, will enable you to build long-life ad sets which will deliver cheap but valuable conversions. Once you’ve found that optimal point, don’t be afraid to take a step back and let Facebook’s targeting algorithm do its job!

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