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The success of Facebook campaigns largely depends on selecting the right target group and creating a suitable ad. Determining target groups and creating ads can't be that difficult, can it? Yes, depending on which target group you want to address, it can be easier or more difficult to reach them.

In this article, I would therefore like to present some ideas for determining your Facebook target group. In the first section, I will present the different targeting options and how you can use them. In the second section, I will present examples of my approach to determining Facebook target groups for three different companies.

Facebook target group: What targeting options are available?

First, I will explain the different target group definitions that we use when running Facebook campaigns:

  • Core Audience
  • Custom Audience
  • Lookalike Audience

What is a Facebook Core Audience?

The Facebook core audience reflects the core target group of your company and should therefore be a reflection of your persona. Of course, you can have different personas, which can be divided into different core audiences. The size of the core audience depends on the level of specificity you set for your Facebook campaign. The more specific your core audience, the smaller your target group will naturally be.

You can refine your core audience on Facebook using the following options:

  • Interests: What interests and hobbies does your target group have?
  • Demographic characteristics: Age, gender, occupation, level of education, relationship status and other information are available here.
  • Location: Would you like to reach people in specific cities? Then you can do this via location targeting.
  • Behavior: Do you only want to target people who use a very specific device? No problem with behavioral targeting!
  • Connections: By connections, Facebook means people who already follow your fan page, etc.).

The advantage of using core audiences is obvious. In just a few steps, you can address your target group with pinpoint accuracy and thus avoid wastage when running Facebook campaigns. Another advantage is that, compared to custom and lookalike audiences, you do not need to have generated any existing data points.

Custom Audience:

We use Facebook Customer Audience to refer to people who have already been in contact with our company. There are different points of contact that I would now like to briefly address:

  • Website Custom Audience: Includes people who have visited your website.
  • App custom audience: Includes people who have interacted with your app
  • Customer lists: People who are part of a customer list. These customer lists can be uploaded to Facebook in order to address the same people again on Facebook.
  • Offline activities: Do you collect customer data from people who visit your brick-and-mortar store? These people can also be converted into a custom audience.
  • Facebook interactions: People who have interacted with your content on Facebook & Instagram can also be merged into a custom audience.

It is crucial for every Facebook advertiser to build up a large custom audience, as campaigns that address a custom audience in particular have a very good return-on-advertising spend rate.

It hardly ever happens that people buy a product from a company that they do not know. As a rule, every purchase requires several contact points before the desired conversion takes place. This is why the use of custom audience is so crucial.

Lookalike Audience:

Now we come to the lookalike audiences. A lookalike audience is a statistical twin target group of an existing custom audience. By creating a lookalike audience on the basis of a custom audience, people similar to the people from the custom audience are addressed. Facebook determines these twin target groups using numerous parameters. This allows advertisers to scale an existing customer base relatively quickly and easily without fearing too much wastage.

A lookalike audience can be created from any possible custom audience; only the minimum size of the custom audience must be reached. Basically, the more data points that can be transferred, the more precisely the twin target group can be reached.

The clear advantage of a lookalike audience lies in the scalability of existing target groups. The prerequisite for using a lookalike audience is the availability of existing custom audiences.

How do I reach my target group on Facebook?

Now that we have taken a closer look at the different target groups, I will use two examples to demonstrate how you too can address your target group on Facebook. Basically, products that are a bit niche are more likely to be successful via Facebook ads than standard branded items.

  1. Example: The fictitious fishing store would like to use Facebook ads to present its new product range to a relevant target group

If the fishing store already has visitors and buyers on its online store, then my first recommendation would be to implement the Facebook pixels. By using the Facebook pixel, we could create a website custom audience and identify these people using Facebook retargeting-ads again. If the pixel data is sufficient, a lookalike audience could also be created immediately.

We should also think about a core audience. For this we go to the Target group insightsto determine suitable targeting options.

Facebook TargetingInterests can be entered in the left sidebar of the target group insights. I first enter the interest "fishing" for the location Germany to get an overview of the target group size and its characteristics.

I receive the following information about the interest "Fishing":

  • Size of the target group: 350,000 - 400,000

Demographic information:

  • 89% Men
  • 11% Women

Age structure of men:

  • 35% 25 - 34 years
  • 25% 35 - 44 years
  • 16% 45 - 54 years
  • 14% 18 - 24 years
  • 8% 55 - 64 years
  • 3% 65+ years

Age structure of women:

  • 30% 25 - 34 years
  • 25% 35 - 44 years
  • 18% 45 - 54 years
  • 13% 18 - 24 years
  • 11% 55 - 64 years
  • 4% 65+ years

In addition to the demographic characteristics, I am also interested in other Facebook pages that were frequently "liked" in connection with fishing. As the interest "fishing" is very generic, I would like to identify specific interests in order to subdivide the target group even more precisely:

During my research I found the following interesting pages:

  • (mobile app: approx. 15,000 people)
  • Angel-Berger (online store: approx. 19,000 people)
  • Close to the fish (fishing blog: approx. 28,000 people)
  • Twelve ft. carfishing magazine (fishing blog approx. 17,000 people)
  • Favorite bait (online store: approx. 39,000 people)


We now have a list of possible targeting options for which we need to check whether they are available.

Unfortunately, no targeting option was available in my example, so we ultimately have to fall back on the interest "fishing" and select this as a detailed targeting option.

  1. Example: An Amazon retailer of horse brushes wants to increase sales through Facebook advertising

As the Amazon retailer does not have its own online store, it is not yet possible to create website custom audiences. For this reason, we are limiting ourselves exclusively to core audience targeting in this example.

Our first port of call is once again the target group insights. Here I add the keyword "riding" as an interest, as "horses" is too generic and appeals to people who don't have horses.

I receive the following information about the interest "Riding":

  • Size of the target group: 1,500,000 - 2,000,000

Demographic information:

  • 35% Men
  • 65% Women

Age structure of men:

  • 33% 25 - 34 years
  • 20% 35 - 44 years
  • 15% 45 - 54 years
  • 23% 18 - 24 years
  • 7% 55 - 64 years
  • 3% 65+ years

Age structure of women:

  • 30% 25 - 34 years
  • 20% 35 - 44 years
  • 15% 45 - 54 years
  • 27% 18 - 24 years
  • 6% 55 - 64 years
  • 2% 65+ years

When evaluating the "Like" information, I came across the following relevant pages:

  • Ingrid Klimke
  • Krämer Equestrian Sports .
  • Loedau equestrian center
  • RidersDeal
  • Grooms

Next, we check whether the targeting options are also available in detailed targeting. Of the 6 targeting options identified, 4 are indeed available for the application.

Next, I create three different ad groups in order to subdivide the interests and evaluate them later:

  1. Ad group (EQUITANA) Target group size: 140,000 people
  2. Ad group (Ingrid Klimke) Target group size: 110,000
  3. Ad group (Krämer Pferdesport & Pferdesporthaus Loedau) Target group size: 210,000

We now have three different target groups, which account for a total of 460,000 people.

Note: There are no clear rules as to when a page can be selected via detailed targeting. You should therefore research in advance which blogs, events and personalities are known in the respective category (riding, fishing, etc.).

Conclusion - Facebook target groups:

As described in the article, there are different targeting options: Core Audience, Custom Audience and Lookalike Audience. Each targeting option has its advantages and disadvantages. As a rule, however, building custom audiences will pay off for every advertiser through increased ROAS values.



Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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