Facebook Ads Targeting allows you to control who sees your Facebook Ads. It's very powerful and very sophisticated.
You can use Facebook Ads Targeting to reach very specific groups of people. It's not difficult to find and select the targeting you want. The trick is to find the targeting that will work with your Ads. The goal is to get your Ads showing to the right people. The ones that will respond to your Ads.
The basic targeting options allow you to target geographic locations like your city, state, the whole country, or multiple countries. You can also target gender, age range, and language.
Detailed targeting involves targeting by interests, demographics, and behaviors. Many selections within these categories can be combined to make your targeted audience larger. For example combining small business owners (39,956,537 people) with farmers (514,700 people) will give you an audience with more than 40,000,000 people. It adds people to your targeted audience rather than removing them. There will be some overlap. Some of the small business owners are also farmers. The main point is that this is a "can be in either group" combination rather than a "must be in both groups" combination.
More recently Facebook has added the ability to use a "must be in both groups" combination. They've also added an "Exclude" option which allows you to exclude people who match a selection. This is the reverse of the "must be in both groups" option.
This video is a fast and quick explanation of Facebook Ads Targeting.
The video below is a longer and more detailed explanation of Facebook Ads Targeting.
Let's apply these last two options to the example above. When you click on these links (Exclude People and Narrow Audience) they expand out like this:
To use the "must be in both groups" (the "MUST ALSO match") combination your targeted audience would be less than 514,700 people. It's possible but probably unlikely that all the farmers are also in the small business owners group which would result in the audience size being exactly the same as the farmers group of 514,700 people. Everyone in your final targeted audience must be in both groups.
Using the "Exclude" option and excluding the farmers group we would end up with at least 39,441,837 people (39,956,536 - 514,700). The targeted group in this case is small business owners who are not farmers. Let's say that only one of the 39,441,837 people in the small business owners group was also in the farmers group. Then the final targeted audience would be one less or 39,441,836. What about the other 514,699 farmers? Since they are not in the small business owners group they're already excluded from targeting.
Let's try it the other way around. Let's exclude the small business owners from the farmers group. The farmers group is 514,700. Let's stick with the example of only 1 person being in both groups. So again the final targeted audience is only 1 less than the first group. In this case the final audience is 514,699. Because only one person was in both groups. We are excluding all small business owners from the farmers group. Only that one person who is in both groups will be excluded from the farmers group.
This last example seems almost the same as the "must be in both groups" example. It's not. It's the opposite. In that example we ended up with all farmers who were also small business owners. We have only 1 person in both groups so the final targeted audience is only 1 person. Again this is the "must be in both groups" option with an example audience of 1 farmer who is also a small business owner.
With connections targeting you can target people based on how they are connected to your Page. For example you can target people who like your page or friends of people who like your page. You can also target people who have connected with your apps and events.
Custom Audiences Targeting
Custom audiences are groups of people from a customer file, website traffic, app activity, or engagement with your Facebook content.
To use a customer file you must upload a file to Facebook and have them match those people on Facebook. If some of your customers are
not Facebook users they won't be matched.
To generate a website traffic custom audience you must install the Facebook pixel. The pixel is a small piece of code (about 10 lines) that you copy and paste into your website. This allows Facebook to track your website visitors and populate your custom audience. When your audience is big enough you'll be able to show Facebook ads to those people while they are on Facebook.
With the website traffic audience you can also segment down into more specific audiences such as website visitors in the past 30 days, or any number of days up to 180 days. You can also specify specific pages visited. For example, you can target people who visited your shopping page but not your checkout page.
The app activity custom audience includes people who opened your app, the most active users, users by purchase amount and users by segment.
The engagement on Facebook audience allows you to target people who spent time watching your videos, opened or completed a form if you use lead ads, opened your canvas if you use Facebook canvas, or visited your Facebook Page, engaged with any post or ad, clicked on any call to action button, sent a message through your Page, or saved your Page or any post.
How to succeed with Facebook Ads Targeting
With all these options you can see that it might be difficult to find a winning combination. The solution is to test various combinations.
Using one campaign with multiple ad sets within that campaign you can test various combinations of audiences and see which ones get the best results. This is the only true way to determine the correct audience you should target. You can guess and that's what you start out doing. But it's well worth it to test it out and find what works.
Of course the ads themselves are important as well. A good strategy is to first test various ads to see which one gets the most engagement (likes, comments, shares). Then use that best ad when you test your targeting.
Keep in mind that some audiences may give you more engagement (likes, clicks, shares, comments) while others may give you more sales and profits. It's not just the engagement that matters. You need to measure your final outcome. The total return on investment is what's important. Find the real winners for that and you'll be successful.