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Facebook Ads Targeting: The Sherlock Holmes of Advertising!



How Facebook Ads Targeting Works Blog Banner created by Swathy Venkatesh of CustomerLabs CDP.

Gone are the days when businesses could rely upon traditional advertising methods to reach their prospects. With the emergence of digital advertising, businesses make use of it to reach their audiences within seconds. But there arises an issue of consumers being bombarded with ads from all sides. 

To avoid this, marketers are evolving day-by-day in making use of new strategies and tools. But one golden egg that is not being efficiently used by marketers is the “audience targeting” option. Appropriately targeting audiences can create wonders for businesses leading to better conversions and higher ROAS. 

In this blog we’ll see how a marketer can make use of Meta (formerly known as Facebook) ad targeting options.  

What is Facebook Ads Targeting?

While creating an ad campaign, Meta gives you an option to target the audience based on their traits, characteristics, interests, behavior, demographics among others. It works in a way to show your ads to the relevant audience who are most likely to be interested in your product or services. 

It’s not just about targeting any audience; it’s about targeting the right audience!

When you create a Facebook Ad, you can utilize combinations of targeting options that Meta provides for your benefit. 

3 Ways to target your audience on Facebook Ads

  • Core Targeting (The Cold)
  • Custom Audience Targeting (The Warm)
  • Lookalike Audience Targeting (The Lukewarm)
Types of Facebook Ad Targeting Infographic done by Swathy Venkatesh at CustomerLabs.

Cold? Warm or Lukewarm??

The cold audiences are your new prospects, belonging to the top of the funnel. Warm audiences are those who have made an engagement with your product, they fall under both middle and bottom of the funnel. The lukewarm audiences are your lookalike audience which will be created based on your users information. 

The Core Targeting!

Using core targeting, you can reach new potential customers based on their specific interests, demographics, and behavior. This type of targeting is used to reach cold audiences who may not have any previous interactions with your brand’s products or services. 

Screenshot of core targeting options with which a marketer can make use of. 
This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads based on location, age, interest, demographics and more.

Location: You can choose to target people living in or moving across a specific country, state, city, or zip code. Moreover, you can also target people within a certain radius. 


Using this, you can target your audience based on specific characteristics they share. This allows advertisers to reach audiences based on factors such as, age, gender, language among others.

Screenshot of Demographics targeting options with which marketers can make use of. This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads based on their demographics like education, income levels, life events, parents, relationships and work.

Below mentioned are few important features with which you can make use of:

  • Education level: There are many fields such as; education level, field of study, schools, and undergrad years.
  • You can target people based on their household income. 
  • Life events: You can target people based on their life events like birthdays, anniversaries, and getting married among others. For example, if you want to sell wedding dresses, you can target those who recently got engaged. 
  • Parents: This allows advertisers to target or reach users who are parents. You have the liberty to specifically target parents having children of age;
    • 0-12 months
    • 01 – 02 years
    • 03 – 17 years (you can target more granular)
    • 18 – 26 years

For example, if you own an infant clothing store, you can target those parents of children under 12 months.

  • Relationships: If someone updates their relationship status from single to engaged or married, you can immediately lure them to celebrate a date night or honeymoon destinations, etc
  • Work: This allows you to target specific audiences based on their job titles, industries, and employment among others. 


Under interests, you can target people based on their hobbies, activities, shopping nature, and many more. 

Screenshot of Interests targeting options with which marketers can make use of. This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads based on different interest a user posses.


Behavioral targeting helps you reach people who have certain purchase behavioral traits, for example, travel freaks, shopaholics, foodies, etc. 

Screenshot of Behavior targeting options with which marketers can make use of. This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads based on the behavioral purchase or intent of a user.

Custom Audience Targeting

Custom audience targeting will help you target those who have shown interest in your products or services through various means. It gives you a better conversion rate and increases your ROAS.  

The below image shows all the sources of custom audiences. 

Screenshot of Custom Audience options with which marketers can make use of. This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads. These audiences are those who have already shown interest in your businesses or products.

Website as a Source: Based on a user’s recent activity on the website, you can target them with relevant ads. For example if a user has added a product to the cart but did not purchase. Now, you can create a segment “added to cart”, and retarget that user with that exact same product

In the similar manner, you can make use of all the available custom audience sources for better retargeting efforts. 

Lookalike Audiences Targeting

Lookalike Audiences help you reach potential customers who share the same behavioral patterns, similarities, or preferences as your existing customers. Based on first-party data that you provide to Meta, it will try to find lookalike audiences.

Meta gives you an option to target

  • Custom audience lookalike
  • Custom audience lookalike with value
Screenshot of lookalike and value-based lookalike options with which marketers can make use of. This helps you target your audience in the right way on Facebook Ads. These audiences posses similar characteristics or traits of your existing customers.

Lookalike Audiences

For example, let’s take John, your existing customer, living in New York City, who is 25 years old, and having an income of around $25,000. With this data, Meta will now try to find people who are living in NYC, or in the age group of 25 years old, or maybe have an income of around $25,000, or maybe those who share similar traits. 

Infographic representing lookalike audience designed by Swathy Venkatesh from CustomerLabs.

Value-Based Lookalike Audiences

Value-Based lookalike audience is an advanced feature provided by Facebook for your business. It is built from your existing customer database, but this time you can assign a value for each customer along with the customer identifier.

The value can be the customers’ lifetime value, or your prospects’ lead stage value or any other value that you can think of. 

To know more about how value based lookalike audience works in improving your ad campaign performance, watch this video:

First-Party Data: The Weapon to Target the Right Audience!

First-party data will help you with high quality user data that you can use for retargeting custom audiences or building lookalike audiences. 

Let’s take a look at how you can make use of first-party data;

  • Audience Exclusions: You can exclude irrelevant audiences from your ad campaigns by making use of first-party data. For example, if you are selling headphones, you might want to exclude those who have already purchased headphones from your website. 
  • Up-selling: Here, you can target the existing audience, and up-sell your products to them. For instance, if you sell a pair of jeans to a customer, you can target them through ads offering a discount on different pairs of jeans. 
  • Model-Based Audience: You can make use of first-party data to create lookalike audiences or predictive models, with which you will be able to identify new customers, who might take desired actions. 
  • Audience Segmentation: With first-party data, you can segment your audience based on their similar traits, behaviors or characteristics, and target them with personalized ads. 

4 Points for Frenetic Marketers to Keep in Mind Before Targeting!

After speaking with a few marketers about the common mistakes that should be avoided while targeting, there were some “take a note” responses which you should keep in mind. 

Excerpts from the conversation

Audience Overlapping

Audience Overlapping occurs when you have two different audiences with the same audiences in a single ad set. Here, there are chances that you might show the same ads multiple times to the same audiences. To tackle this, Facebook lets you check whether your audiences are overlapped or not. 

Screenshot of Audience Overlapping solution provided by Meta.

Frequency Cap

With a frequency cap, you will be able to control the number of times each ad is shown to individual users. This helps to avoid users’ annoyance by leading to a more positive user’s ad experience. 


You can allocate a budget at a pace that helps you fully utilize your ad campaign budget instead of wasting it within a few days. 

Localized Interests

This feature is for you to target people based on their local interests, local languages, and cultures among others. Make use of this feature to target and be more relevant with your ad campaigns. 


Reaching the right people at the right time is essential for any business to accomplish successful marketing campaigns. By making use of Facebook Ads targeting, you won’t just reach people, you will reach the right people! 

Become the Sherlock Holmes of advertising by unveiling the mysteries of user preferences and targeting the right audience. This helps your business to boost their online presence and drive conversions. 

Happy targeting!!

The image shows the text Know How first-party data helps increase your ROAS - Click Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Ads targeting rely on data collected about customers using their demographics, preferences, behaviors among others, to approach them in a way they wanted to be engaged.
Facebook Ad targeting is very much accurate because of the ways and means it collects user first-party data. It actually uses various methods like data from what you input on Facebook, the websites you visit and much more. That too with Facebook Conversions API, it has even more enhanced data.
Targeted Ads are very much successful when being executed properly. The social media behemoth provides advanced ad targeting features and capabilities where you can reach wider audiences based on their interests, behaviors and demographics along with other data points.
This totally depends on the specific goals and objectives of different campaigns. With a custom audience you can target people who have shown interest in your products. With lookalike audiences you can create a similar audience segment of your existing customers. There’s no one-size-fits all answer here.
This involves a strategic approach to identify and reach most relevant and valuable users for your business. For this, you have to first define your target audience, avail first-party data, make use of custom or lookalike audiences, and use detailed targeting to reach high-quality potential customers.
Just like Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram also shares the same ad infrastructure. You will set who you want to target, in what type of content, location, interests, age and other demographics.
Facebook and Instagram are both heavy platforms with many users across the globe. The effectiveness of them varies in terms of reaching audiences and engagements. Facebook is a comfort zone when you want to get more clicks, views or engagements. While Instagram creates brand awareness with amazing content and visuals.
There are mainly three types of targeting; Core Targeting, Custom Targeting and Lookalike Targeting. Under these marketers have many targeting options like demographics, interests based, behavior based, and you can target those who visited your website and didn't take any actions, through first-party data. There are immense options available for advertisers.
Minimum radius is said to be 1 mile for targeting on Facebook Ads.

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