How To Use Custom & Lookalike Audiences with Facebook Ads

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Advertising, Social | 26 Comments
How To Use Custom & Lookalike Audiences with Facebook Ads

Facebook offers a great deal of targeting options that you can’t find anywhere else, but there’s much more than the ability to target users by their relationship status. In this post we’ll cover how to use both Custom & Lookalike Audiences in Facebook Ads so you can leverage your business’s contact lists and take your Facebook ad campaigns to the next level.

Custom Audiences

With Custom Audiences, you now have the ability to target your Facebook ads to specific contacts! It works like this: Over time you’ve developed contact lists of leads, customers, subscribers, and more. Many, if not most, of your contacts are on Facebook so Facebook now lets you upload your lists to target them specifically.

You now have the ability to target your Facebook ads to specific contacts.

Here’s an example of this in action: you could get more likes on your business’s Facebook page by running a like campaign to past customers that haven’t yet liked your page. They will be much more likely to respond to your like campaign than a standard audience since they already have a relationship with your business.

How to Create Custom Audiences

Building your Custom Audience is extremely easy when you have a list of contacts..

  1. First identify the contacts that you want to reach with your new Facebook campaign. Perhaps you want to reach all of your contacts, or just a segment such as you current or past customers, leads, or subscribers. Just make sure your list is at least 500 people.
    Creating a custom audience
  2. Create a spreadsheet of the corresponding emails or phone numbers for your contacts. If you utilize a CRM, simply export your list.
  3. Open the Facebook Power Editor and upload your list of emails or phone numbers.
  4. Navigate to “Audiences” on the left.
  5. Click the “Create Audience” dropdown at the top and select “Custom Audience.”
  6. This will take you to the upload screen where you can upload your list and give it a name and description.

Facebook will then encrypt your data and match it against all active Facebook profiles. The result will be a new Custom Audience in your account complete with all matching profiles.

Lookalike Audiences

In addition to Custom Audiences, Facebook allows you to create Lookalike Audiences. Lookalike Audiences are groups of people that are similar to those in your Custom Audiences. If you have a Custom Audience of past customers, its Lookalike Audience will be filled with similar Facebook users that are likely to be interested in your offers.

How to Create Lookalike Audiences

Creating Lookalike Audiences is even easier, but requires an existing Custom Audience to build off.

  1. In the Power Editor, select “Audiences” from the left.
  2. Select an existing Custom Audience or create a new one.
  3. Click Create Similar Audience.
    Create similar audience
  4. Choose the country you’re targeting along with your optimization preference.
    •  If you choose to optimize for Similarity, Facebook will scan your selected country and include the top 1% of people in your new Lookalike Audience. This means you’ll end up with a narrow list of very similar users. If you’re working on a limited budget, this is your best option.
    •  If you choose to optimize for Greater Reach, Facebook will scan your selected country and include the top 5% of people in your new Lookalike Audience. This means you’ll end up with a larger list of users to reach, although with a less precise match. If you’re looking for the broadest reach across similar users, this is your best option.
  5. Click Create (it may take 6-24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to be ready).

Pro Tip: You can create a Lookalike Audience for each of the two optimization options, but they will overlap. If you wish to advertise to both, you can exclude your Similarity audience from the ad targeting your Greater Reach audience.

Website Custom Audiences

Learn how to retarget on Facebook with Website Custom Audiences.

How to Implement Your Audiences

Once you’ve created your audience, you can implement it in your Facebook ad targeting.

  1. In the Power Editor, select the ad you’d like to modify or create a new ad.
  2. In the edit panel below your list of ads, select “Advanced Options” under “Audience.”
  3. Begin typing the name of your audience in the Custom or Excluded audience field.

If your list is larger than you like, you can narrow it down further by overlaying other Facebook targeting options just like any other ad– just keep in mind that this will affect your reach.

Selecting a custom audience

Pro tip: Consider excluding current customers from ads that are targeting new customers.

The ability to target Custom Audience is a powerful feature unique to Facebook Ads. How have you been able to take advantage of it? Please let us know in the comments.

Sam Mazaheri

Sam is the Director of Online Marketing at InVision and former Director of Marketing at AdStage. Prior to AdStage, he was part of the AdWords product team at Google, serving as the in-house AdWords expert and advisor to product management, engineering, and UX. Prior to that, he personally managed and grew in-house digital marketing programs with over $300,000 in monthly ad spend.



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