How to Target Facebook Ads to Your Audience

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in How-Tos | 11 Comments
How to Target Facebook Ads to Your Audience

Getting started with Facebook advertising is a pretty exciting experience. You’ll be impressed with the way Facebook lets you surgically target your ad’s audience with an impressive array of settings like demographics, attributes and interests. More than any other network, Facebook knows its user’s gender, age, and likes which you can use to focus your ads on the best audience. In this post, we’ll review the different audience targeting options Facebook Ads provides.


First, you’ll need to choose at least one location to narrow down who should see your ads. You should set it to where your potential customers are. You can select countries, states or provinces, cities and zip codes. To make things even easier, you can target a radius. For example, if you’re advertising a bakery in Dallas, Texas, you can include cities within 10 miles of Dallas. This will include Facebook users that live in this location to your campaign’s audience.facebook ads targeting location


facebook ads targeting ageHere you can target the age range of your audience. You can specify any age range between 13 and 64 or choose “no maximum” age. If your typical customers skew towards a certain age, you can select that range. For example, a life insurance provider may choose to target people between 35 and 55.This will include Facebook users within that age range to your campaign’s audience.


facebook ads targeting genderHere you can target the gender of your audience. If your typical customers skew towards a certain gender, you can select that gender here. For example, a nail salon may choose to target women only. This will include Facebook users of that gender to your campaign’s audience.

Precise Interests

This is a powerful targeting method because Facebook’s “Like” feature makes user interests incredibly accurate. Here you can target topics your audience is interested in and their precise interests. For example, if you’re advertising power tools, you can select the topic (designated with a #) “#Home improvement” or the precise interest “craftsman.” This will include all Facebook users that have indicated the interest to your campaign’s audience.facebook ads targeting interests

Broad Categories

Here you can target broad categories of audiences. For example, if you’re advertising strollers, you can select the category “expectant parents.” This will include users Facebook has identified as expectant parents to your campaign’s audience. I’m sure you’ll find the various categories Facebook Ads provides both impressive and helpful.facebook ads targeting categories


Here you can target your audience by their connection to your pages, apps or events. You can specify people that are connected, aren’t yet connected or whose friends are connected to your page, app or event. For example, if you’re trying to get more likes on your page, you can exclude those that are already connected to your page and target your campaign to people whose friends are connected to your page. This will generate new likes for your Facebook page from users whose friends already like your page.facebook ads targeting connections

Custom & Lookalike Audiences

Here you can target custom audiences you’ve previously created. Custom audiences allow you to upload a contact list to target or exclude with your Facebook ads. For example, you could upload a list of customers that placed an order on your website and add them as a custom audience. You can then advertise to this list to encourage repeat orders which may perform well since they already have a relationship with your company. Alternatively, if you sell a subscription product, you could exclude active subscribers to focus on acquiring new subscribers.facebook ads targeting custom audience

You can also create a similar audience list (known as lookalikes) based on your custom audience. This is great for advertising to an audience that’s similar to your best customers. For more, read our post on How To Create Custom & Lookalike Audiences.

Advanced Targeting

There are a number of lesser-used targeting options that could work well for your targeting goals.

Interested In

facebook ads targeting interested inHere you can target your audience by the gender they’re interested in. For example, a dating site may target those interested in women so they can create an ad with an image of a woman along with ad copy about meeting women. One caveat with this targeting option is that Facebook officially describes this as “interested in a specific gender for friendship, gender, a relationship or networking.” That’s extremely inclusive– so your mileage may vary.

Relationship Status

facebook ads targeting statusHere you can target your audience by their relationship status. For example, a dating site would (hopefully) target single people only and avoid wasting money on people in relationships.


Here you can target the language your audience speaks. This is helpful when the language your audience speaks is uncommon in the targeted location. For example, a law firm that works with immigrants may want to target their audience by their native language.facebook ads targeting languages


Here you can target by the education of your audience. You can specify education level, major and specific college. For example, a business school may target people that have graduated college with a major in computer science. This will add people with the appropriate educational background to your audience.facebook ads targeting education


Here you can target your audience by where they work. For example, a high-end restaurant in Mountain View may target employees of Google. This will add all users that have indicated they work there to your audience.facebook ads targeting workplaces

Test Your Targeting

Once you’ve selected the audience to target with your first ad, be sure to experiment with other audiences as well. There is an endless number of combinations to test and you’re bound to find a better audience than the one your created on your first attempt.

Sam Mazaheri

Sam is the Director of Marketing & Product at AdStage. Previously, 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.