An Overview of Custom Audiences on Facebook

Custom Audiences on Facebook: An Overview of Audience Types

An ad is only as effective as the person reading it perceives it to be. Your copy can be perfect. Imagery can be vivid and attention grabbing. You can have the highest bid and an outstanding relevance score. But none of that matters if it’s being read by the wrong person. Who sees your ad is just as, if not more, important than the ad composition itself. Custom Audiences on Facebook assist in making sure your ads are placed in front of the right people.

Custom Audiences on Facebook look to put advertisers in a position that help businesses sell and market to customers they already know.

Whether it’s targeting existing customers or putting together a cohort of prospective buyers, Custom Audiences on Facebook simplify the process of marketing toward specific groups with scalable ads.

Different Types of Custom Audiences on Facebook

For retailers looking to employ the use of Custom Audiences on Facebook in their marketing strategies, understanding the types of audiences that can be utilized is paramount.

Customer List Custom Audiences

Targeting existing customers is oftentimes one of the most effective methods of advertising. With the Customer List option in Custom Audiences on Facebook, you’re able to pull details from your current or former customer databases and upload them to Facebook.

Facebook will take this data – anything from phone numbers, email addresses, etc – and match it against user information already garnered on their site. The expected match rate will vary depending on the data pulled from your uploaded list, but the higher the match rate, the more success you can expect to have.

customer list Custom Audiences on Facebook

What makes Customer List audiences so advantageous is the fact that it eliminates the need for initial targeting setup. In most campaigns, advertisers will need to establish specific demographics and other options. Mulling over the likes of customer interests or locations can be a tedious, but necessary, undertaking.

This process becomes immediately simplified with the Customer List option in Custom Audiences on Facebook. Once a list has been generated, you have, not only an audience to advertise to, but an audience already familiar with your business.

From there, you’ll be able to establish any number of objectives to hit this “new” audience with. Whether it’s attracting customers to become fans of your Facebook page, or segmenting your lists in a number of other ways, the Customer List option will give your campaign a variety of objectives to take on.

Customer Lists Insight

“Segmenting your list as much as possible is really important when uploading any CRM information,” said Sarahsarah Custom Audiences on Facebook Rogers, a Senior Social Strategist at CPC Strategy.

“Ideally, retailers should typically be aiming for a match rate between 70-80%. Instead of uploading information in one shot, I’d recommend segmenting as much as possible to develop a more refined list.”

“Looking at people who have made repeat purchases. Looking at non-purchasers, people whose information you have – such as an email address – that haven’t actually purchased from you. Segmenting in all of these different ways will make your customer lists much more effective.”

Website Custom Audiences

Assuming you don’t have a large enough database of customer information or are unable to utilize Customer Lists for any reason, Website Custom Audiences provides businesses with an alternative retargeting method.

Through the installation of a Facebook Pixel – formerly known as the Custom Audience pixel – on specific pages of your website, you’re able to track the behaviors of customers as they navigate your site.

pixel Custom Audiences on Facebook

Users that visit your site do not always take the preferred actions, like completing a purchase or filling out a lead form, that you hope they do. And while they may not have “crossed the finish line”, it’s still important to be aware of their presence.

Installing a pixel allows Facebook to recognize users visiting your site and automatically adds them to an audience, creating a group that you now have the ability to retarget.

One of the most significant aspects of a Facebook Pixel is that it’s not limited to solely tracking visits. With slight variations of the code, a pixel possesses the ability to track a variety of events that visitors take on your site.

Events include, but are not limited to, things like:

  • If a specific piece of content has been viewed
  • Products or keywords searched for
  • Items that have been added to the cart
  • Items that have been added to a wish list
  • If the checkout process has been initiated, but not completed
  • How far into the checkout process a user went, such as whether or not payment information was inputted
  • If a registration form was completed


Enhanced Website Custom Audiences

As of May 2016, Facebook has implemented a number of updates to Website Custom Audiences that allow for highly detailed targeting options.

Now, this audiences type enables advertisers to create custom combinations out of the targeting options available.

Within these options, parameters can be set based on:

  • Frequency: The number of times a website visitor performs a specific action
  • Dynamic Date: Previously limited to a set duration, you can now target visitors who have visited your site over a specified range of dates
  • Aggregate Values: the overall total amount of time a person has spent on a specific page, or combination of pages
  • Devices: What platform was used to access your site, such as Android, iOS, desktop or other mobile platforms

Each of these options can be paired and combined with targeting based on Standard Events visitors take on your website as well.

Website Custom Audiences Insight

“Website Custom Audiences have come a long way. You can target very, very granularly now. Previously, at its most basic form, it mainly tracked visitors and lacked a lot of segmentation. Now, you have a lot of ways to slice data, allowing you to make your campaigns more powerful.”

“This is probably one of the most powerful tools on the platform. It informs you of people who know your brand, who have recently visited your site, and who has raised their hand expressing interest.”

“If you’re not using it, you’re missing out on a lot of advertising opportunities.”

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audiences are one of the most interesting options in Custom Audiences on Facebook – although, this audience type is not specific to Custom Audiences alone. They allow advertisers to target consumers who mirror or lookalike Custom Audiences on Facebooklook similar to former or already existing customers they may have.

After providing Facebook with several different kinds of user sets, they will look for patterns and characteristics in your current users, leads, or customers – such as age, gender, or interests – and determine what similarities they possess when compared to other users that have not interacted with your business in the past.

Lookalike audiences have become incredibly renowned amongst Facebook advertisers as it allows them to reach an entirely new group of prospective customers they may not have found otherwise.

In order to have a Lookalike audience made, businesses will need to have at least one source from the following:

  • Mobile Apps (with App Events)
  • Facebook Page
  • Custom Audience
  • Conversion Pixel

Lookalike Audience Insights

“With lookalike audiences, you can basically take a a group of repeat purchasers and basically say, ‘I want to build a lookalike off of this custom audience.'”

“When setting it up, you have a range from 1-10%, 1 being the closest match and 10 being the furthest. 1% is typically about 2 million people and that’s the closest group Facebook can find resembling the behaviors of those repeat purchasers.”

“They may not be familiar with your brand. But they have similar activities that match a specified audience and you’re able to target them.”

App Activity Custom Audiences

Considering the Facebook app is one of the most widely-used and highly-downloaded apps on mobile devices, it’s no surprise that desktop is being outpaced by mobile on the platform. If your business has an app associated with it, utilizing App Activity in the Custom Audiences on Facebook is a necessity.

Similar to Website Custom Audiences, ad targeting is generated based on actions and events users take within your app. If an individual has not used your app in a while or if someone added an item to the cart but did not make a purchase, you are able to target them with ads based on this information.

These target configurations allow you to reach relevant audiences with pertinent ads, instead of lumping the aggregate user base together.

Events businesses are able to keep track of include people who may have:

  • Recently opened your app
  • Recently completed a purchase
  • Completed large purchases
  • Abandoned carts
  • Achieved a certain level in your game

Additionally, you are able to combine actions as well, permitting a much more refined and targeted audience.

For more information on Facebook Custom Audiences, please contact

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