11 Creative Strategies for Facebook Ad Targeting After the Changes
A while back, one of our blog readers posted a comment asking for targeting guidance in their industry. As an in-house acquisition marketer, I love a new challenge and opportunity to think outside the box when it comes to Facebook Ads. So, after responding back to this visitor, I had the idea for my next blog post: recommending creative targeting options for a variety of industries.
To get started, I enlisted the help of the one and only Conor Bond. I asked him to challenge me with 11 industry and target audience combos to find creative, effective targeting strategies to work around Facebook’s recent changes. And from there, I plopped down into my bean bag and got to digging through audience manager.
Before we get started, let’s do a quick recap of the state of Facebook advertising:
- Potential reach: Recent studies show that there are 2.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook. Now that’s a whole lot of reach—and a whole lot of potential for advertisers to reach the wrong audience.
- Advertising: Facebook reported an advertising revenue of $9.16 billion in the second quarter of 2017, a 47% year-over-year increase.
- Targeting: Despite the changes to Facebook’s targeting options over the past year, there are still so many options for advertisers to find their target audience.
Within these targeting options, there are three types of audiences:
- Custom audiences
- Lookalike audiences
- Core audiences
Since I am not able to get in the back end of each reader’s analytics account or CRM data, I will only be providing core audience recommendations throughout this post. However, I highly recommend that all Facebook advertisers leverage custom audiences and lookalike audiences for targeting in their campaigns.
Okay, now that we’ve done some housekeeping, let’s take a look at new Facebook targeting strategies for these 11 industries looking for these 11 specific audiences.
1. Automotive industry: People in the market for new cars
According to a study from Autotrader, car buyers spend 59% of their car buyer’s journey researching online. This means that this audience is likely to engage with pages posting content that helps with car research. To capture this behavior, I would recommend leveraging interest targeting toward company pages that fall into this category. Here are a few I came up with:
Interests → search for
- Kelley Blue Book
- Car Gurus
Conveniently enough, there is an entire section dedicated to vehicles in the interest section of Facebook’s core targeting options.
- Hobbies & activities → vehicles
So, depending on what type of car you are promoting, you can layer in one of these options to personalize your offer to individuals who have an interest in this car type.
2. Education: People who want a master’s degree
If you know the story of Facebook’s origin, you’ll know that this platform first started out tailored to college students. As the platform evolved and the user base expanded, the idea stuck close to its roots—connecting individuals with others in their educational, professional, and personal network.
Because the platform started out geared towards this collegiate network, educational information remains a featured part of user profiles. And with this information, Facebook is able to offer advertisers education-level targeting. This is the perfect starting point for any higher education account looking to target an audience interested in pursuing a master’s degree.
Demographics → education → education level
- College grad
- Associate degree
- In college
Demographics → education → school years
- Undergrad years
However, when you drill into it, Facebook estimates over 69 million in potential reach for users with a college degree (just looking at the US).
Again, that’s a whole lotta reach, and not something advertisers should target alone—especially if you’re looking to spend your budget efficiently.
To optimize your audience relevance, I would recommend layering in additional targeting options. Now, to get there, let’s get more specific and say we’re a business school looking for potential MBA students:
Demographics → work → industries
- Business & finance
Demographics → education → field of study
- Business management
- Business administrator
- Business consultant
Interests → pages that aid in GMAT studies
- Graduate management admission test
- The official GMAT exam
3. Travel and hospitality: People who want to take vacations
Once I got started with this challenge, I found that there are a lot of ways to approach your targeting for travel and hospitality businesses. This gives advertisers in this space the flexibility to personalize their targeting according to their offer and iterate by testing new audiences to improve ad relevance and performance.
To get started, you can layer in broad interest options, such as:
Interests → hobbies & activities → travel
- Air travel
Interests → pages that serve content around travel
- Trip Advisor
Interests → airline pages
- Jet Blue
- Delta airlines
- United airlines
Behavior → travel
- Frequent travelers
- Frequent international travelers
- Returned from travel 1 week ago
- Returned from travel 2 weeks ago
Like I said, this broad targeting is great place to start. Next, you’ll want to consider other information that informs decisions to travel or interest in travelling. I considered life events that could infer that a user would be in-market to travel soon:
Demographics → life events
- Newly engaged (1 year)
- Newly engaged (3 months)
- Newly engaged (6 months)
- Newly wed
But, hey, let’s make sure your prospect’s experiences is in line with your promotion. We don’t want another Fyre Festival on our hands...
4. Dating and personal services: People interested in romantic relationships
This is a tricky one because there are an estimated 36+ million users that have “single” as their relationship status on Facebook in the US.
But not all of these people are accurately reporting this information and, even if they are, single doesn’t necessarily mean interested in a relationship. Instead, let’s consider additional signals that could infer the user is looking for a romantic relationship:
Demographics → relationship status:
Interests → family and relationships:
Interests → pages that serve content around dating:
- Christian Mingle
Aside from the individual’s characteristics, this industry can consider the impact a user’s friends may have on their behavior. There’s nothing that makes you want to start swiping like an influx of save the dates from all of your friends.
Here’s how to target based on this demographic:
Demographics → life events → friends of:
- Friends of newly engaged people
- Friends of newly weds
5. Arts and entertainment: People who want to see live shows
As mentioned in other sections, audience layering is a strategy all advertisers should leverage to improve the relevancy of their ads. By paring down broad targeting options, you can find smaller pockets within your target audience that are more interested or more likely to be interested in your current promotion. So, for this industry, I will give two examples of how pivoting your strategy by promotion can make a considerable difference.
First, let’s say I am an advertiser with a goal of selling tickets to a live Cardi B concert. Here’s how I would target my ideal audience based on interests:
Interest → entertainment → live events
Interest → Cardi B
Interests → entertainment → music
- Hip hop music
I’d also use radius location targeting around the venue to reach any people who might be persuaded by proximity or looking for last-minute tickets.
And in the next campaign, I am looking for individuals who would be interested in the live tour of Wicked:
Interest → entertainment → live Events
Interest → entertainment → musical Theatre
Interest → Wicked the Musical
I’d use radius location targeting around the venue here, too. You never know when someone’s in the market for last-minute tickets to Oz.
6. Finance and insurance: People who need help financial planning for retirement
If you’re in the financial and insurance business, you know that your target audience for retirement planning is varied. You can’t narrow down by age or occupation, because most adults in most jobs could be interested in planning for retirement.
No, not just planning to move to the beach or start each day running in the water.
Here’s how you can target people who are likely to be considering their financial plans for retirement:
Demographics → parents → all parents
- Parents (all)
- Parents with adult children (18-26 years)
Interests → business & industry → personal finance
- Retirement planning
- Retirement savings account
Interests → financial planning company pages
7. Home and garden: People who own homes
If you’re in the home and garden industry, you’re looking for homeowners.
Once I got started, I found that there is quite a range of options to infer home ownership to target your home and garden promotions, including an entire section for “home & garden.”
Here’s what I’d suggest starting with:
Interests → hobbies & activities → home & garden
- Home improvement
- Do it yourself (DIY)
- Home appliances
Demographics → recently moved
Interests → business & industry → design
- Interior design
Interests → pages for home renovation shows, for example:
- Fixer Upper
- Property Brothers
- Flip or Flop
8. Retail: People who want to buy shoes online
Let’s be real, who isn’t always in the market for new shoes? Especially our in-house analyst, Patrick Henry—I don’t think I’ve never known someone who loves shoes more than this guy.
Here’s how I would use behavior and interest targeting to reach someone looking to buy new shoes:
Behaviors → purchase behavior
- Engaged shoppers
Interests → shopping & fashion → clothing
Interests → shopping & fashion → shopping
- Online shopping
Interests → other pages that sell shoes
- DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
9. Real estate: People interested in selling their homes
The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) estimates that there are about 2 million active real estate licensees in the United States. Now, that’s a lot of professionals looking to find people who are in the market for real estate services, making this a highly competitive industry for advertisers.
My first thought when approaching this industry was to use life events that suggest an individual may be looking to make such a purchase:
Demographics → life events
- Newly engaged
- Recently moved
Interests → personal finance
- Mortgage loans
Interests → pages that serve content around real estate services & advice
For more Facebook advertising ideas in the real estate industry, check out these 7 killer tips.
10. Fitness: People who would be interested in a personal trainer
Whether you’re advertising workout clothing, fitness classes, or gym memberships, fitness marketing is a competitive industry.
To target people interested in personal training sessions, I’d suggest narrowing down your audience based on fitness interests that closely align with custom personal training sessions, like high-intensity classes and high-end fitness apparel.
Interests → fitness and wellness:
- Physical exercise
- Physical fitness
Interests → pages related to fitness & wellness
- Healthy living magazine
Interests → pages for popular gyms:
- Planet fitness
- Orange Theory
- Gold’s Gym
Interests → pages related to fitness apparel:
- Lululemon Athletica
11. B2B: Businesses that need a new payroll software
Now, this was a different challenge.
As an advertiser that runs Facebook ads for a B2B company, I understand the limitations in exclusively leveraging Facebook’s detailed targeting options for an ad set. But you always have the option to combine demographic and interest-based targeting to narrow down your search to find a potential prospect.
Demographics → job titles
- Payroll manager
- Payroll administrator
- Human resource director
- Human resource specialist
Interests → pages with content around payroll services
- Paylocity Corporation
By creating these parameters with job titles and interests, you’re more likely to reach your target audience—trust me.
That’s all for now, folks!
There you have it: my detailed targeting recommendations for 11 different industries. I hope that this post has helped spark some new targeting ideas for your next campaign. If not, perhaps weather-based targeting is your sweet spot! And while we’re on the topic of Facebook targeting, make sure you take a look at our free Facebook ads grader. You’ll get a personalized performance report filled with actionable insights to help you improve your Facebook ads strategy today!