Facebook Ads

Quick Guide to Facebook Ads Interest Targeting

Facebook Ads are a cost effective option to reach a specific audience with your advertising message. In addition to demographic targeting (location, age, gender, marital status, and education level), Facebook offers an additional rich layer of targeting know as Interests.

This interest based option allows advertisers to target Facebook users based on pages they have liked, their activities, and interests. These detailed targeting options may be based on:

  • What people share on their timelines
  • Apps they use
  • Ads they click
  • Pages they engage with
  • Activities people engage in on and off Facebook related to things like their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents and travel preferences
  • Demographics like age, gender and location
  • The mobile device they use and the speed of their network connection


When creating a new ad, Facebook displays a select group of preset options an advertiser can choose from known as categories, in the interests field.

FB Interest Categories_Blog

Each of these main category pillars can be clicked into, revealing more defined targets.

FB Interest Categories_2_Blog

Precise Interests

Advertisers also have the option to type in keywords directly into the interests bar. As each letter is entered into the search field, Facebook will reveal new targeting choices.

FB_Precise Interest Targ_Blog

Tip: Facebook will not show every available targeting option in this view. By adding different variations, more targeting options will be revealed.

E.x.: Lebron James + a

 FB_Precise Interests_2_Blog

Lebron James + b

FB_Precise Interests_3_Blog

Audience Reach

As each new interest category is added, it affects the potential reach of your Facebook ads.

Reach: The number of unique Facebook users who are being actively targeted and could potentially see your ad.

FB_Audience Definition Dial_BlogWhile adding each individual interest target, pay close attention to the number of Facebook users who might see your ad, known as potential reach. This dial on the right hand side helps you understand how large of an audience might see your message. Facebook has also added a dial labeled audience definition which acts like a gauge, informing you if the ad targeting is too broad or too specific.

Targeting too broad of an audience can lead to poor performance  spending budget on Facebook users who might not be your best potential or current fans. If the ad targeting is too refined, your ad might show at a high frequency to a small audience, causing a negative experience.

Tip:  Broader targeting is great for increasing brand exposure, awareness, and new fan growth. While specific targeting is ideal for focused goals, such as increasing engagement on your brand page or driving certain website actions.

Wrap Up

Before creating any Facebook advertising campaign, take time to define what type of Facebook audience you would like to reach and have a clear goal for what the ad campaign should accomplish. This will help in generating cost effective results.

This section is an expansion of our Guide to Facebook Ads. And if you are interested in learning about Facebook’s broad categories targeting, you can reference our guide, “How to Use Broad Categories with Facebook Ads”.

AdStage Team