Intent Targeting on Facebook Ads

Intent Targeting on Facebook Ads

Trapica Content Team

Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 5, 2021

As we all know, targeting is one of the keys to success for advertising on any platform. It doesn’t matter if we have the best ad in ad history, it all comes to nothing if the wrong people are seeing it. As a result, there is a lack of conversions that we may blame on the ad, when in actuality we should take a closer look at the targeting.

In this guide, we want to go into the Detailed Targeting feature on Facebook in more detail. Even if you’ve been using Facebook ads for many years, we still believe there’s value for you in this guide. Not only will we explore how the feature works, we’ll see how it’s implemented and the best practices too.

What’s Detailed Targeting?

In the ad set creation process, go to the ‘Audience’ section and you’ll see the new Detailed Targeting option. Essentially, it was introduced to help marketers refine groups of people who see a specific ad. With new interests, behaviors and demographics, we can dig deeper than ever into our audience and find those with a genuine interest in what we have to offer.

When setting up the Detailed Targeting options there are a number of things to consider, including the ads on which they click most frequently, demographics (including location, age and gender), and the pages with which they engage. What’s more, we can also assess engaged activities in relation to travel preferences, device usage and other areas. Finally, Detailed Targeting options are also based on the speed of the user’s internet connection and the device they happen to be using at that moment.

Using Detailed Targeting

Seeing the feature is one thing, knowing how to use it is another. Once the campaign objective has been set, visit the Audience section in the ad set and choose gender, age, location and language. As you reach this stage, you should then have an option to select preferences by Detailed Targeting, and that’s where the advice in this section will come in handy.

How do you wish to refine your audience? You will have a number of options:

1. Include Specific Demographics, Behaviors and Interests - With this option, enter a word or phrase and then find suggestions through the default text box. Alternatively, take a look through Facebook’s options with the ‘Browse’ feature.

When using this tool, one of the biggest mistakes we see people make is thinking that users need to match every interest chosen. For example, they choose fishing and tennis and think that the program will only look for people who like fishing AND tennis. If you choose multiple interests, they are not mutually exclusive. In other words, your ads will reach some people with an interest in tennis and others with an interest in fishing.

It might be that you want your options to be mutually exclusive, and this is where the ‘Narrow Audience’ feature comes in. Make your selections, and then Facebook will look for people who match with at least one (and possibly multiple). Sticking with our example, let’s say you initially chose fishing and tennis. You can then add running into the mix and Facebook will find people with an interest in running and EITHER fishing or tennis. As you can see, it’s easy to shape your campaign to the audience you have in front of you.

2. Exclude Specific Demographics, Behaviors and Interests - In the second option, marketers can leave the default text box alone completely and ‘Exclude People’ instead. Just as the name suggests, all those with the chosen behaviors, interests or demographics will be excluded from potential ad campaigns. Just enter your preferences in the same way or look through the suggestions with the ‘Browse’ button.

3. Select a Mixture - Finally, we can also include specific groups AND exclude other groups. This way, we’re really shaping the campaign and focusing on those we want to target while ignoring those we know won’t convert. As long as this is done correctly, this should prevent wasted resources while boosting conversion rates.

Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

How to Utilize Detailed Targeting Effectively

Fortunately, Facebook has revealed how we can all utilize this feature in our marketing campaigns. For the most part, it talks about the difference between ‘and’ / ‘or’ marketing. Since we think this is something that will trip some people up, we want to provide our own advice on the matter.

As we’ve just seen in the previous section, it’s possible to both exclude and include people in a specific campaign. If somebody doesn’t meet the criteria you create, they won’t get your advertising material. For example, it could be that they do play a sport, don’t like a certain type of music, have shown an interest in cooking, or something else entirely.

When laying out conditions, this is known as ‘or’ targeting. Essentially, we’re saying that our audience can have an interest in A or B or C. As long as the person has an interest in one of the three, they will see your ads. Alternatively, Detailed Targeting allows us to use ‘and’ marketing, and this is where you reach out to those who meet every single item in your criteria. In this example, they would need to have an interest in A and B and  C.

As long as you keep hitting the ‘Narrow Audience’ and ‘Narrow Further’ buttons, this will work as ‘and’ marketing and only those who meet every point will be included in your campaigns. When people first start using Detailed Targeting, they think of the Include/Exclude, Narrow Audience and Narrow Further features as mutually exclusive; in other words, marketers either use the two additional features, or they don’t. In reality, you can actually set them up as tiers and have them working parallel to one another.

Example - As a marketer, we have three criteria: an interest in sports, currently in college, and an interest in cooking meals. The first option would be to set up ‘or’ marketing and attract people who have one or the other. However, what Facebook has said is that it’s more effective to create tiers with the three options. With this, we would have the following setup:

  • Include/Exclude - Interested in sports or are vegetarians
  • Narrow Audience - Interested in cooking or like gardening
  • Narrow Further - Still in college

For somebody to be included in your ad campaign, they must meet one criterion from each of the three tiers.

Warning - While we do recommend narrowing down your search with campaigns, it’s important not to get so specific that you limit them to almost nobody. In the past, we’ve seen many marketers make this mistake. In an instant, they blame the marketing material or the audience when the campaign has just been so refined that there’s nobody left.

When you set up any campaign with Facebook, the platform’s aim is to first find the people who most closely meet the parameters in place. Therefore, it’s actually pointless to refine too much; Facebook will do the refining for you. To prevent problems, we recommend keeping an eye on the ‘Audience Definition’ section (visit the audience creation page and look to the right to find this panel). As soon as the needle is in the red, this means your campaign is in danger of faltering. Whenever you can, broaden the search and cast a wider net.

Facebook Ad Targeting Tips

To finish, we want to briefly go over some targeting tips for the Facebook ad platform. For Detailed Targeting to work, you need to put the foundations in place.

This includes the following:

  • Use the Audience Insights feature to learn about your competitors. If possible, target the fans of competitors. Although some will passionately stand by their side, others may be tempted away.
  • Some products will be perfectly suited to the narrowing techniques we’ve discussed today, but others won’t. If your products fall in the latter category, don’t be afraid to combine two unique audiences.
  • It might have worked in the past but purchasing lists of email addresses will no longer lead to conversions and sales. Not only is this against the Terms of Service laid out by Facebook, consumers are generally skilled at ignoring unsolicited emails these days.
  • Finally, be careful with the ads you create. Sadly, some companies play games and comment on the audiences they want to avoid in order to get the audience they want to attract on their side. Don’t forget, all of Facebook is able to see your ads whether you target them or not (all they need to do is go to your Ad Library). Don’t ruin your reputation with an ad in poor taste.
Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 5, 2021