Facebook’s Custom Audience Ads – And What They Mean for You

With a user base that includes hundreds of millions of active and highly engaged members, Facebook has established itself as an excellent way for brands to reach out to and connect with potential customers through either establishing Facebook communities on brand pages or purchasing in Facebook Ads. The problem for some, however, was that the two options for Facebook marketing often seemed to exist on opposite ends of the spectrum of “social media” and “marketing”.

Facebook’s recently released Custom Audience advertising builds a bridge across that divide by giving brands the opportunity to include relationships built outside of Facebook in their targeting process.

What is a “Custom Audience”?

Facebook advertisers have long had the ability to target a specific audience segment through using some basic and fairly broad filters. These included general demographic information, such as age, gender, relationship status and location, as well as targeting options based on users’ self-described interests and what they have “liked” on Facebook.

Until now, these filters created a smaller targeted audience that was narrowed down from Facebook’s entire user base. Custom Audience ads allow advertisers to include another filter: those who have previously purchased from you or otherwise interacted with you in a way that added their information to your databases.

How Do These Ads Work?

To create a custom audience, advertisers upload a .txt or .csv database that contains the email addresses, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs of the group they want to target, such as people who have signed up for a newsletter, customers who have purchased a specific product, or past customers who made a purchase during a certain time period. This list is then encrypted in Facebook’s Power Editor before being sent to Facebook, where the data is matched against information available in user profiles.

Once a list of matches has been created, advertisers can further refine their target audience with the standard filters offered to all Facebook advertisers. This allows companies to create highly specific target audiences based on demographic information in addition to whether (or how) they have interacted with your brand.

What Do These Ads Mean for You?

Custom Audience ads benefit both advertisers and users by integrating advertising with two crucial tenets of social media and online marketing: relationships and valuable content. To users, these ads can offer value through special offers from companies they already use and trust. And since the ads are customized to match their demographics and based on past purchases or habits, they are more likely to align with their interests and needs.

For advertisers, Custom Audience ads present exciting new opportunities to build upon existing customer relationships, bringing the right message to the right people and leading to a potentially significant increase in advertising ROI. While this level of fine-tuned targeting has been used extensively in email marketing, you now have a way to bring custom message to a specific audience segment outside of their inboxes. These ads also allow you to apply filters that you may not have had access to within your customer databases, such as their interests, giving you more granular control over who sees your ad. For instance, while your data may have allowed you to create email marketing lists based upon product purchased, purchase date or a customer’s geographic location, you can now specifically reach, for instance, single men over the age of 30 who love sports and have purchased a specific product within the past 6 months. What’s more, Custom Audience ads also give advertisers the ability to exclude audience members based on their uploaded lists, helping their ads reach prospects or potential new customers.

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She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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