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Facebook Ad Targeting: Know Your Audience

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

You can increase your Facebook ads ROI (return on investment) by targeting the right people with the right message. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to do this with their robust Facebook ad targeting options. Learn about each option, including ways to narrow your audience and improve the ROI of your Facebook ads. 

What Is Facebook Ad Targeting?

Facebook advertising tools enable marketers to build ad campaigns and target specific people and groups. Because an ad is only effective when shown to the right people, choosing your audience is key to guarding against ad fatigue and audience decay. The more you customize your Facebook audience, the more likely you will reach people interested in engaging with your brand, product, or service, leading to increased sales and ROI. Facebook ad targeting helps you get your ad in front of the right people by clearly defining and segmenting Facebook users.

Facebook Ad Targeting Audience Customization Options

When assigning an audience to a Facebook ad, you have the option to choose from an existing audience or create a new specific audience. When you create a new audience, multiple customization options are available in three main categories: Demographics, Interests, and Behaviors.


Here are all of the options you can choose from when defining your audience by their demographics.

  • Location: You can target people in a specific country, state, county, city, postal, code, and more. Additionally, within each location option, you can target everyone in the location, users who live in that location, or people who traveled or are traveling in that location. 
  • Age: Facebook automatically sets the age range to people between 18 and 65+, but you can narrow your audience if you know the age range of your target customers.  
  • Gender: You can choose to target people who identify as male or female or select all genders. 
  • Language: You can target an audience based on their language or ethnic affinity (in the “Detailed Targeting” dropdown). 
  • Education level: Facebook ad targeting lets you get very specific in terms of education level, including the field of study, type of school, actual school attended, year graduated, and type of degree received.
  • Financial income: Facebook uses information from US zip codes to determine the financial income brackets of people across the country. 
  • Life events: Facebook determines life events by important dates, including birthdays, anniversaries, relationship status changes, and “starts” (started job, etc.).
  • Parents: You can target parents and narrow your search by selecting parents with kids of certain ages or even expecting parents. 
  • Relationship status: If your brand targets people with specific relationship statuses, you’re in luck because Facebook ad targeting lets you choose from options as common as “Single” and “Married” to “Complicated.”
  • Work: Under the “Work” section, you can segment by current and historical work information, including employers, industries, and job titles.


When defining your audience by their interests, it’s essential to understand that Facebook may tie a person to an “interest” based on a single interaction with content related to that interest. It doesn’t necessarily mean the people in that “Interest” group are dedicated to the cause, per se. Because of this, it is a good idea also to select other identifiers (perhaps from the demographics options) to narrow your search and target the ideal customer. 

With that said, Facebook ad targeting does offer a lot of options under “Interests.” And for each option, there are subcategories (and sometimes sub-sub categories) to refine your search further. Facebook determines these interests by how a person has interacted with content on the platform. 


Facebook considers a person’s behavior by their shopping habits, device usage, and other general data points collected from third-party partners. Here are all of the options you can choose from when defining your audience by their behaviors.

  • Anniversary: You can target people with an important upcoming anniversary event. 
  • Digital activities: You can target people who play video games based on specific operating systems and consoles.
  • Expats: You can target people who left their home country to live in another country. 
  • Mobile device user: Facebook lets you get specific about the mobile device brand, operating system, and network connections your audience uses. 
  • Mobile device use time: You can target people based on the likelihood of their mobile device usage amount. 
  • Politics: You can narrow your Facebook ad targeting efforts by political interests and the likelihood of a user engaging with specific political content. 
  • Purchase behavior: You can target people who have clicked a “Shop Now” button on a Facebook advertisement, which indicates that they are engaged shoppers and more likely to shop your brand. 
  • Soccer: It’s random, but it’s an option you can use to define your audience. 
  • Travel: Target people based on their travel behaviors, such as traveling for business or pleasure and returning from trips. 

More Facebook Ad Targeting Categories

Facebook includes a few more options in “More Categories.” There is also an opportunity to target your “Connections,” or people who like or use your page or app, are similar to people who like or use your page or app, or exclude people who like or use your page or app. 

Additionally, as soon as you get into Facebook “Custom Audiences,” you have even more ways to segment and define your target audience. You can upload email addresses or phone numbers to target specific people, such as those who viewed a particular landing page on your website multiple times. You can choose an audience comprised of people who have engaged with your advertisements before in specific ways. And you can target people who “look like” your engaged audience

Using Facebook Ad Targeting for Your Next Advertisement

The Facebook ad targeting options are so robust that creating a defined audience can feel overwhelming the first time. The great thing is you can create multiple audiences for the same ad, run them side by side, and learn a lot about the right audience for your brand, product, or service. Once you’ve identified a highly engaged audience, save it for later and reuse it, rather than creating a new audience for every ad.

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