The Inverted Unicorn Ad Targeting Strategy that Doubles Facebook Relevance Score

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By now, Facebook ads aren’t exactly a new thing.

We all know the drill: It’s all about promoting your “unicorns” – the top 1-3% of your best content and/or offers, the ones with unusually high engagement rates, e.g. click-through rates of 10% or higher. Why?

Facebook sponsored posts with high engagement rates get assigned high Relevance Scores, which get rewarded by the Facebook Ad algorithm through increased exposure at lower cost.

facebook relevance score

The cost per click for a sponsored post with 1% engagement rate might be around $3-5 per click, but if you can raise the engagement rate to 10%, your CPC will fall to around 25 cents.

But HOW do you make the content you’re trying to promote get 10%+ click-through rates?

How Your Ad Targeting Strategy Affects Relevance Score

The normal way to increase relevance and CTR on Facebook is to be a bit picky with your ad targeting – no matter how boring your sponsored content is, if you get it in front of a targeted enough audience, it can become exciting to a smaller number of people, or at least that’s how the theory goes:

facebook targeting strategies

For example, if you’re selling PPC marketing software, you promote your offers to people who have:

  • An interest in marketing
  • Middle-management job titles
  • Recently visited your site
  • Etc.

Here we’re casting a narrower net, and maximizing the engagement rates within it.

The problem is that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Meaning, just because you’ve created a perfectly targeted ad set, doesn’t guarantee the prospective buyer will find your offer worthy of clicking on.

Further, sometimes you can over-define your audience, meaning you’re only showing your ad to a tiny pool of people.

inverted unicorn ad targeting

A Bold New Way of Ad Targeting: The Inverted Unicorn Method

My new ad targeting strategy has the potential to dramatically increase your sponsored post engagement rates and your relevance scores, which in turn will simultaneously increase reach and lower cost per engagement.

Basically, the idea here is rather than only targeting correlated interests (e.g. marketers with middle-management job titles), we’re going to target two completely different interests: for example, liberals who watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

These are two big audiences, but we’re only targeting the overlap:

advanced ad targeting strategies

A Crazy Example of the Inverted Unicorn Method for Facebook Ad Targeting

Two weeks ago I created a case study that highlighted how Fake News being spread via Facebook Ads can pose a danger to society.

larry kim facebook ad targeting

I only had a $400 budget to promote the story using Facebook Ads. Yet the content promotion efforts yielded:

  • Gazillions of views
  • Over 1300 likes
  • 235 shares
  • 68 comments

The story got picked up in Business Insider, Forbes, and a major international television network is filming a story on this next week at my office.

And it’s even possible that Trump might have heard about the story!

facebook ad targeting fake news

Last week, Facebook started taking out ads on the issue.

facebook ad policies

And they even updated their ad reviewing policy:

facebook ad reviewing

And about a hundred people at Facebook checked out my LinkedIn profile last week.

Did my story cause all this? Impossible to know! But I can share the Inverted Unicorn Facebook Ad targeting strategy that I employed.

As a reminder, I only had $400 to spend on content promotion, so I picked a demographic that I thought would find this story to be particularly interesting: Liberals.

how to target the right facebook audience

Unfortunately, this audience is just too big (26 million people!). That’s just too broad considering I only have $400 to spend.

I had to find a subset of this huge audience that I could still meaningfully target.

So here’s what I did. I (basically arbitrarily) picked another large audience, then targeted the overlapping segment of these two large audiences. I was able to cut down the audience size to 1.1 million people by requiring that people in my target audience be both Liberal and Star Trek Fans, like this:

targeting strategies for facebook ads

What does Star Trek Deep Space Nine have do with Liberals? Absolutely nothing!

But it allowed me to target people who would might understand this obscure joke.

Then, I used that joke in the title image for the post:

unique ad targeting methods

If you have no clue what this joke is all about, that is the beauty of this strategy. You would have never seen the ad in the first place! It was engineered to appeal specifically to this audience.

It worked: The Star-Trek loving liberals engaged with the post, leading to strong engagement metrics  and a Facebook Relevance Score of 7/10…

high facebook relevance score

…and overall very high engagement rates for such a small budget.

I know it worked because I got all these kooky Star Trek comments in the Post Comments:

increasing relevance score with ad targeting

In a nutshell, the Inverted Unicorn Ad Targeting Strategy makes ads more interesting by appealing to two or more of a user’s different interests.

There are so many ways you could use this strategy. For example, what if you’re HubSpot and you want to promote your INBOUND conference on a small budget? You could target the intersection of small business owners and fans of Michelle Obama. Then you would feature an inspiring image of her in your ad, noting that she’s a keynote speaker. Much more effective than a boring stock image of a laptop or something.

Closing Thoughts

Are your CTRs on Facebook too low?

Are your Relevance Scores below 5/10?

Are you stuck promoting the same boring ads which never get more than relevancy score 2/10?

Are the audiences you’re targeting way too big in comparison to your budget?

If you answered yes to any of the above, perhaps it’s time you employed the Inverted Unicorn Facebook ad targeting method for doubling click-through rates!

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Comments

karamjit kaur
Nov 15, 2017

great post

Alonso R.
Nov 15, 2017

I just wonder what the graphic designer look on his/her face was when Larry came up and said "I need an inverted unicorn".
Great article. Good stuff Larry thanks for sharing.

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 15, 2017

I think they're used to it with Larry!

Johnny
Nov 15, 2017

Really a great advice... how to get sued by Ms. Obama's lawyers

Zoltan
Nov 16, 2017

Star Trek and other movies' pictures are copyrighted material. You can't use them in ads.

Rob
Nov 21, 2017

he just did.

Mike
Nov 22, 2017

Cool story

amit shakyawar
Nov 21, 2017

awesome information

Cathie
Nov 25, 2017

I'd love to use this strategy to create audiences (the vast majority of whom live in the USA). However, because I live in Australia, I can only get 'AND' interest targeting for audiences. For example, I can select people who have 'Liberal' OR 'Star Trek' interests.. but cannot narrow the audience to only include people who have BOTH. Thanks Facebook for (once again) disadvantaging anyone who lives outside of the US (even when thats where all our customers are)...

Mark Shannon
Dec 01, 2017

Very interesting strategy! While the other comments appear to focus on the legality of using these types of images, I'm keen to read more about and test this method. It doesn't have to be Star Trek or Michelle Obama... intersecting your primary target with a strong and engaged secondary target (or I would imagine a niche with potential for high engagement) could also have a positive impact on campaigns that employ this strategy.

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 01, 2017

The objections are a little silly. In the case of HubSpot, they would of course have images they could use with permission. And you don't have to pick a TV show or a celebrity -- you could pick a generic interest like skiing. Theory/strategy still works!

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