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Facebook Ad Targeting: Know Your Audience

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

You can increase your Facebook ads' return on investment (ROI) by targeting the right people with the right message. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to do this with its robust Facebook ads targeting options. Learn how to target Facebook ads, including narrowing your audience and improving the ROI. 

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. Knowing how to target ads on Facebook 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 can 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 the options you can choose from when defining your Facebook ads target 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 there, or people who traveled or are traveling there. 

  • 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 nationwide. 

  • 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 offers many options under “Interests,” and each option has subcategories (and sometimes sub-subcategories) to refine your search further. Facebook determines these interests by how a person interacts 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 the options for 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, indicating they are engaged shoppers and more likely to shop your brand. 

  • Soccer: It’s random, but it’s an option to narrow down your targeted advertising on Facebook.

  • 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's “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 of people who have previously engaged with your advertisements 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.

Are you interested in more Facebook ads targeting tips? Learn more about how AdRoll's Facebook ads tool can help you manage your campaigns, including your audiences.

Facebook Ads Targeting FAQS

What are the benefits of using Facebook ad targeting?

  1. Reaching the right audience: With the wide variety of options to segment your audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, you can ensure your ads are shown to the people most likely to be interested in your offerings. By reaching the right audience, you can increase the chances of engagement, conversions, and, ultimately, sales.

  2. Improved ad relevance: When your ads are shown to a highly targeted audience, they become more relevant to those seeing them. Relevance plays a critical role in capturing users' attention and driving engagement. Tailoring your ads to specific demographics, interests, and behaviors can deliver messages that resonate with your audience, leading to higher click-through rates and better overall ad performance.

  3. Reduced ad waste: With Facebook ad targeting, you can avoid showing your ads to irrelevant or uninterested users minimizing ad waste and ensuring that your ad budget is spent effectively on reaching the most valuable audience. By narrowing down your targeting, you can focus your resources on individuals who are more likely to convert.

What are my options for Facebook ads?

Knowing how to target your audience with Facebook Ads is only half the battle, with such a wide variety of ad options. Choosing the right ad type to engage your audience can be tricky, so we always recommend testing out a couple of different ads to find what works best for you and your brand. 

  • Image ads: These are simple ads that consist of a single image. They are effective for showcasing products, services, or brand visuals.

  • Video ads: Video ads allow you to engage with your audience through moving visuals and audio and can be in-feed videos, story ads, or in-stream videos.

  • Carousel ads: Carousel ads showcase multiple images or videos within a single ad unit. Users can swipe or click through the carousel to view different images or videos.

  • Slideshow ads: Slideshow ads are lightweight video ads created using a sequence of images. These are an alternative to video ads and can be effective in areas with slower internet connections.

  • Collection ads: Collection ads combine a featured image or video with multiple product images beneath it. When clicking on the ad, users receive an Instant Experience, which provides a fullscreen, immersive browsing experience.

  • Instant experience: Instant Experience ads allow you to create full-screen, interactive experiences with images, videos, carousels, and more. 

  • Lead generation ads: Lead generation ads make it easy for users to submit their contact information directly through the ad, without leaving Facebook. They can be ideal for capturing leads and building email lists.

  • Dynamic ads: Dynamic ads automatically promote relevant products to people interested in your website or app, personalizing the ad content based on the user's browsing behavior.

  • Messenger ads: Messenger ads appear in the Messenger app and allow you to reach your audience through personalized messages. They can be in the form of sponsored messages or click-to-Messenger ads.

  • Sponsored stories: Sponsored stories are ads generated from user interactions with your page, app, or event. They appear in the news feed and can increase visibility and social proof for your brand.

  • Playable ads: Playable ads allow users to interact with a preview of a mobile game or app before installing it and have proven effective for driving app downloads and engagement.

How can I manage multiple audiences for the same ad?

Managing numerous audiences for the same ad on Facebook allows you to compare and test different audience segments to determine which performs best for your campaign. Follow these steps to manage multiple audiences effectively:

  1. Create custom audiences: Create custom audiences based on various criteria with your website or app. Each custom audience represents a specific segment you want to target.

  2. Save audiences for reuse: Once you've created a custom audience, save it for later use. Facebook allows you to save audiences, which makes it easier to select and apply them to different ad sets in the future. This way, you can avoid recreating the same audience whenever you want to target it.

  3. Duplicate ad sets: In the Facebook Ads Manager, duplicate your existing ad set for each audience you want to test. This creates identical copies of the ad set, allowing you to make specific changes for each audience while keeping other settings consistent.

  4. Apply different audiences: Apply a different saved custom audience in each duplicated ad set. This ensures that each ad set targets a unique audience segment based on your predefined criteria.

  5. Analyze performance and adjust: As your ads run, closely monitor the performance of each ad set. Compare metrics such as reach, engagement, click-through rates, conversions, and return on ad spend (ROAS) to determine which audience segments deliver the best results. Based on the performance data, adjust your ad sets, allocating more budget to the well-performing ad sets. 

  6. Test new audiences: As you gain insights from your initial tests, consider testing different audiences. You can create new custom audiences or use Facebook's Lookalike Audiences feature to expand your reach to audiences similar to your engaged audience.

By managing multiple audiences for the same ad, you can gain valuable insights into which audience segments respond best to your ads. This allows you to refine your targeting strategy and allocate your budget more effectively, resulting in improved campaign performance and higher return on investment.

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