Broad targeting has become more popular with Facebook advertisers than ever before, but there are a few things you need to do before implementing this strategy.
"To go with broad audience targeting, or to not go with broad audience targeting, that is the question."
Or, at least, that's what Shakespeare might have written if he decided to go into a career in Facebook marketing instead.
Since we can't know what else he might have recommended, today we decided to answer this question ourselves and dive into the things you need to know before you implement a broad audience targeting strategy with your Facebook ads.
Without further ado (about nothing), let's dive in!
How does Facebook targeting work?
You can think of Facebook ads targeting like a laser pointer for your advertising campaigns. It helps you narrow down your audience to a specific group of people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.
To do this, Facebook takes the data on its users, like their age, location, interests, behaviors, and even the devices they use, and makes those options available inside the Ads Manager. You can then create an ad that only appears to a specific group of people that you think would be interested in what you're selling.
For example, if you're selling pet supplies, you might want to target people who have pets, live within a certain distance of your store, and have recently searched for pet products online. With Facebook ad targeting, you can set up your ad to only appear to this specific group of people.
There are a bunch of different targeting options you can use, like demographics, interests, behaviors, and even custom audiences (like people who have signed up for your email lists or your customer database). You can also use lookalike audiences, which are people who are similar to your current customers, either based on a list you have uploaded or other custom audiences you have created.
The great thing about Facebook ad targeting is that it can help you reach the people who are most likely to buy from you, while also saving you money by not showing your ad to people who aren't interested. Plus, you can track your results and adjust your targeting over time to get even better results.
What is broad audience targeting on Facebook?
Now that we've learned a little about what targeting options exist, we can cover more of the specifics of this article: broad targeting.
Broad targeting is the term used when you're using a targeting setup that's more generic than detailed.
Let's use the pet store analogy from above as an example.
Instead of targeting users who have pets that you cater to in-store or even specific breeds, a broad targeting setup could simply include all people, in all age groups and genders, who live within 500 miles of your store.
In this case, you're not trying to filter out pet owners or those who have specific animals you have products or services for.
While you may think this approach sounds counterintuitive to what you're trying to achieve, the reality is that there are pros and cons to both broad and specific audience targeting.
... and that's exactly what we'll be covering below. :)
How iOS 14 changed Facebook audience targeting
Before the days of iOS 14 and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, advertisers ran amok in a giant free-range targeting field, happily picking and choosing the most specific audiences they could to increase the chances of the almighty conversion.
The previous sentence had a bit of an artistic flair, but you get the point—advertisers had more user data than they knew what to do with, and they could use it as they chose.
Since both of those events, Facebook has put a lot of work into pulling back the reins on the amount of data advertisers can see and what they can target for their campaigns. This meant restrictions for targeting things like:
- Health causes
- Sexual orientation
- Religious practices and groups
- Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures
- Demographic data like credit history
- The inability to retarget users who have viewed a website
- Inability to track website conversion activity (purchases, post-ad clicks, etc.)
- The loss of ability to use ad formats like dynamic product ads (now Advantage+ catalog ads) that rely on product-specific pixel tracking
While there are certain ways you can get around the loss of tracking data, there's no way to target those specific interests and behaviors that were removed from Facebook's platform.
Thus, more and more advertisers are turning their strategies around and embracing broad targeting tactics with their ad spend.
Why can’t everyone go broad on Facebook?
While broad audiences can work incredibly well, it's also important to mention that it's not for everyone, and there are a couple of glaring reasons why.
Your product just isn’t mainstream enough
Let’s consider the toothbrush for a moment. (Stick with me here)
The inherent value of a toothbrush doesn’t need to be taught to most people above the age of 5. Everyone needs to use one. There may be reasons why we choose to buy one toothbrush over the other, but generally, these are products everyone uses.
This overall concept is what we mean by ‘mainstream.’
Some products (clothes, perfumes, bathroom accessories, etc.) are so universally used that going broad right out of the gate might be perfectly fine.
Now, if you’re selling a B2B SaaS software that only supports enterprise-level customers who exclusively use Salesforce, that’s a completely different story that we’ll cover in the next point.
Broad targeting primarily relies on you having enough data to optimize your campaign
Regardless of what type of targeting you're using, you're never going to reach every person in your audience. Facebook's algorithm will always try and find the right person that's more likely to achieve the outcome you set for your optimization event.
The audiences, therefore, act more like rules or guidelines, directing Facebook on who to sift through.
In the case of broad targeting, using this tactic means you give Facebook a wider selection of people to choose from. In turn, the algorithm has more control over selecting the right people to show your ad to. This means you can capture conversions you might have otherwise missed by creating a small audience.
That being said, this only works if you have enough data for Facebook to accurately predict which person is a better fit than another. This type of data is mainly generated by the Facebook Pixel.
If you haven't heard of the Facebook Pixel, it's a snippet of code that's added to your website. This code will then track actions that happen on your website, like purchases, eBook downloads, add-to-carts, demos, free trial signups, you name it.
With this data, Facebook's algorithm takes a look at all the people who have completed the action you're optimizing for, like a purchase.
The more conversion data Facebook has to work with, the better it is at predicting the right audience for your broad targeting campaigns.
Without this data, however, Facebook has to start from scratch—typically resulting in a waste of ad spend on your side.
Do this before going for broad audience targeting
As we just mentioned, you need to give Facebook enough data to work with for your broad audiences to succeed. Here are the things you need to do before using a broader audience for your next campaign.
Test, test, and test again
The only way to give Facebook that coveted Pixel data is to create campaigns and run ads with other targeting setups, simple as that.
You can do things like:
- Testing multiple custom audience types against each other: Engagement vs. lookalikes, website visitors vs. email subscribers, etc.
- Create multiple audiences using more detailed interest-targeting methods
- Using lookalike audiences based on your current custom audiences and testing different lookalike percentages (1%, 2%, 5%, 10%)
Once you have enough data to work with, you can then start to experiment with broader audiences.
Make sure to cover the entire marketing funnel
One of the biggest mistakes we see advertisers make is that they go for the sale much too soon.
Much like a too-handsy first date, it's likely to make your audience ignore you altogether and excuse itself to the bathroom, never to return again.
(Metaphorically, of course)
Therefore, it's important that you're creating messaging (and ads) that speak to your audience depending on where they're at in the overall buyer's journey.
A typical funnel will look something like this:
Acquisition - Prospecting. In this first step, your aim is to connect with individuals who are not familiar with your brand and demonstrate your values and brand identity to show them what your product or service is all about. You can think of this as a virtual handshake of sorts.
Acquisition - Prospecting. Now that you've 'met', you can go further into detail about the solution your brand has and how it's unique to your competitors on the market, and drive users to your website.
Retargeting. By this stage, your audience should have interacted with your brand and at least visited your website. You can then use different retargeting strategies to get them to come back and entice them to make a purchase.
Retention. Much like a good marriage, it only works if you're constantly providing value for your partners (or customers, in this case). During the retention phase, you can keep your current customers delighted by offering additional product or service add-ons that increase the value they receive from you. For example, selling cell phone cases to those who just purchased a mobile phone.
Be careful and analyze when going broad
Much like a true science experiment, you need to make sure your work is well-researched and tested before you can truly come to the best conclusion.
In this case, you need to ensure your broad target audience has a minimum reach of 1M in order to truly perform well. In addition, the longer you can let the campaign run, the better Facebook will get at finding the right people inside your broad audience.
After you’ve had some time to generate results from your broad audience, it’s time for analysis. You need to compare the broad audience performance to the average of your prospecting audiences. If it works better than interests and lookalikes, congrats! You’ve struck gold. You can then scale your broad audience and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
Make your life easier by automating the audience-targeting process
If creating, analyzing, and retesting several types of audiences for every single stage of the funnel sounds like a lot of work, you're right. It definitely is.
That being said, there's no other way to hone in on your best-performing audiences and truly make the most out of every cent of your Facebook ad spend.
To that end, automating all of that manual audience setup labor is the perfect solution. Luckily, your friends here at Madgicx have created an entire suite of tools to help you do just that. ;)
Madgicx Audience Launcher
Creating all the different audience setups needed to get enough Pixel data for broad targeting can take a lot of time (and at least half a bottle of migraine medication).
To solve this problem, Madgicx has created over 100 different audience segments that span every part of the Facebook ad funnel, launchable with just a few clicks.
The Audience Launcher also has a built-in feature that ensures Facebook doesn't target the wrong audiences by automatically excluding them from later funnel stages, like retargeting audiences from acquisition ad sets. This way, Facebook can focus on the intended target audience and avoid missing out on potential leads.
Madgicx Audience Studio
Even if you want to start simple with plain-old interest targeting, the process of finding the right interests out of the thousands available to you can be an arduous process at best. With Madgicx's Audience Studio, our AI algorithm recommends the best interests for your account based on your data and allows you to build interest audiences faster.
Madgicx Targeting Insights
After you've created all your audiences and done all of your tests, you'll finally need to figure out which audience type works best for you.
Again, the team at Madgicx has your back with our Targeting Insights tool. Targeting Insights breaks down your audience data into different audience types (interests vs. lookalikes, etc.), so you can see how well each is performing and how much money you're making (or not). Plus, you can customize which metrics you want to look at to suit your goals. This is something you can’t easily do inside Facebook natively.
Targeting Insights also gives you insights that you might not have even thought of, like how big or small your audience should be and which landing page will work best for your next ad set.
The best part? You can try out all these features for free during your 7-day Madgicx trial.
Today we covered all things broad targeting—from what it is, to how businesses are using it today, and strategies you can use to make sure broader audience targeting works for you.
While broad audience targeting performance is dependent on the data you have available through the Pixel and your specific business niche, this article has given you all the tools and strategies you need to run an effective broad audience test and see the results first-hand.
Creating and testing audiences can easily waste your time and budget. The good news is, Madgicx can automate your entire audience targeting process, making it easier to find and double down on your winning audiences and maximize your ad ROI.
Tory is a digital marketing specialist and the current Marketing Manager of Breadcrumbs.io. She's been featured in various high-profile marketing blogs like Hootsuite, AdEspresso, and Databox and holds certificates for both Google and Facebook Ads. In her spare time, she gardens and paints from her house in the Florida panhandle.