Facebook Custom Audiences: Yay or Meh?

advertising / facebook / Facebook Custom Audiences / Optimizing / targeting / testing   Posted on Jun 11, 2013 by Annette Lee

We run a lot of Facebook ad campaigns here. Love or hate Facebook, they’re a low cost/low barrier platform to reach a lot of people.

We’ve written about optimizing digital campaigns before and touched a little on Facebook. Today we're going to take a look at just Facebook targeting in general and how you can use it to best optimize your Facebook ad campaign.

The beauty of testing in digital ad campaigns and Facebook in particular is that you can quickly have a conclusive outcome. Then 3 months later, that conclusive outcome is proven wrong. So back to the testing drawing board.

It's a vicious cycle.

Last year, Facebook released Facebook Custom Audiences. According to their site, “Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their Sponsored Story or Ad to a specific set of users with whom they have already established a relationship on/off Facebook.” Basically you can match your organization’s email list to Facebook users and target posts and ads directly to them. Sounds awesome! Or is it?

For a recent campaign we targeted ads using the custom audiences. We also included targeting based on political affiliation and liking certain media outlets, similar organizations and politicians. This is what happened:

We’ve been testing out custom audiences for other clients as well. And well, so far the numbers aren’t exactly impressive - clickthrough rates are usually amongst the low end of the targeting groups we've tested.

So what’s an organization to do? Well, it’s worth testing out. The beauty of the Facebook ad set up is you can quickly see what is working and what isn’t. Setting up your Facebook Custom Audience is also not a heavy lift. However, you should still try other targeting to see what works best for your needs. Custom Audiences might not be outperforming other kinds of targeting now but who knows how it will be 3 months from now? 

Besides, it looks like Twitter is getting in the action of custom audience targeting too. So hooray! Another thing to test!

Have you tried Facebook Custom Audiences? What do you think?

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