How to use the Facebook Marketing API to reveal 1000’s of interests that are hidden in the Facebook Ads Manager, without needing to hire a developer.

99% of Facebook advertisers are targeting the exact same interests, because they don’t know there are many more.

Paco Vermeulen
Aug 1, 2018 · 8 min read
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TL;DR

  • The FB Ads Manager suggests only 25 interest suggestions to target. Don’t use these because you’ll face heavy competition and high CPC’s.
  • Research with Facebook Audience Insights or via Google is limited and often returns interests that cannot be targeted in the FB Ads Manager.
  • In just 5 simple steps, you can use the FB Marketing API to reveal all the interest suggestions that FB Ads Manager hides. But that you can target.
  • I’ll show you how, step-by-step and with screenshots. Completely for free.
  • Target these hidden interests to enjoy an unfair competitive advantage ;)
  • If you want to save time doing manual research, use .

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

Introduction

Advertising on Facebook is becoming a bit crowded, right?

Today over 6 million advertisers are using the platform. And with good reason, because Facebook offers highly specific targeting capabilities combined with the massive reach to be able to scale winning campaigns.

The downside of the growing popularity as an advertising platform is that Facebook had to make their interface dummy-proof. That’s why, over time, they’ve hidden many of the specific interests that you can target from the interest suggestions they show you when setting up new campaigns.

They now show a shortlist of just 25 interest suggestions 👇

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This is the shortlist of interests Facebook suggests related to Golf.

It get’s worse…

They show the exact same 25 suggestions to everyone…Every single one of these 6 million advertisers gets the exact same interest suggestions.

Do you think that targeting these 25 will give you the best results for your campaigns? Or do you think that by targeting them you’ll enter a massive bidding war? Of course, simplification is not Facebook’s only motivation…

The 25 interests that they still show often have large audiences; which means more ad revenue because there are more impressions to sell to a less targeted audience. With more advertisers bidding and driving up the price. Ka-ching!

There is another way.

While all new and inexperienced Facebook advertisers are competing for these ‘public interests’, the pro’s are using advanced custom audiences and target specific interests that NOT everyone is targeting. ‘Hidden interests’.

Fish where no-one else is fishing 🎣

The problem is, it takes a lot of research to find these interests and often when you’ll find related keywords in Google or even in FB Audience Insights, you can’t target them on Facebook. Which is really f*cking frustrating.

I’ll show you how to speed up your targeting research by using the Facebook Marketing API, a tool 99% of Facebook advertisers are NOT using because they think it’s too technical. That’s not true. You don’t need a developer to reveal 1000’s of hidden interests by using this API. Just follow the 5 simple steps outlined in the remainder of this article and you’ll be off to the races.

What is the Facebook Marketing API?

First things first.

API stands for Application Programming Interface.

When you’re using Facebook Ads Manager you’re using a graphical user interface to instruct Facebook what to do. Most modern web apps also offer a ‘backdoor’ to give the exact same instructions and to retrieve information.

That’s the API.

Facebook has many API’s. Amongst them is the Marketing API, related to the marketing features Facebook offers. Most API’s require some form of basic authentication so they can monitor and limit the usage. So first we’ll take the steps needed to authenticate ourselves to the Facebook Marketing API.

This is not a loophole or a hack that is illegal and that will put your account at risk. Facebook even documents how developers should use their API to build value-adding services. But most marketers are not developers….so it’s one of the best-kept Facebook advertising secrets 🤐

Step 1: Create a Facebook App

The very first thing you should do is go to the Apps section in . There you’ll click on the +Create App button to get started.

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Give your App a Display Name and add your Contact Email.

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Then click on Create App ID.

Your first step, creating an App, is now completed 👏

Step 2: Request an access token

The next step is requesting an access token that you can use to authenticate yourself when using the Marketing API. Go to to request your token.

First select the Application you’ve created. Next, click on the Get Token dropdown and select the option Get App Token. Now you see the long string of letters and numbers below.

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That is your Access Token.

If you’re already switched to the new design of Graph Explorer, it looks a little different — just make sure to select App Token.

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Step 3: Use the adinterest method

There are a lot of things that you can do using the Marketing API.

You can create campaigns, set budgets and targeting etc. We’ll only touch on a very specific method, two methods actually, within the interest targeting functionality of the API. If you want to learn more about all the possibilities, browse the full Facebook offers. Or don’t :)

The first method that you can use is called adinterest. This method makes a connection to the API and inputs a keyword. The API then returns a list of related interests.

This is the URL to call the API:

https://graph.facebook.com/search?type=adinterest&q=[Golf]&limit=10000&locale=en_US&access_token=your-access-token

(Copy this full URL to a notepad to make edits)

Input your keyword in between the brackets, where I’ve put the example [Golf]. Note that the first letter should be capitalised. And replace the text “your-access-token” at the end of the URL string with your access token.

When you put the URL in your browser and hit Enter you get a page filled with valuable targeting data in return.

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This is a so-called JSON response you get from the API.

So, for example, Golf channel or Tiger Woods. With every interest, you’ll see the audience size that you can reach when targeting this interest worldwide.

Step 4: Use the adinterestsuggestion method

Next, you can also use a second method: adinterestsuggestion. It’s similar to adinterest BUT doesn’t work for every input keyword. Sometimes it doesn’t show any new interest but sometimes you can add a lot of additional interests to the list using this second method. I would advise to always give it a try.

Use the following URL format and input your broad interest.

https://graph.facebook.com/search?type=adinterestsuggestion&interest_list=[“Golf”]&limit=1000&locale=en_US&access_token=your-access-token

You should copy the URL above to a text-file first and delete the quotation marks around Golf + type quotation marks yourself. The Medium formatting messes up the quotation marks so your browser will not accept them.

An alternative solution is to use the encoded URL format, where quotation marks are replaced by %20, like this:

https://graph.facebook.com/search?type=adinterestsuggestion&interest_list=[%22Golf%22]&limit=1000&locale=en_US&access_token=your-access-token

Note that now the input keyword in the brackets needs to be inside quotation marks. Copy the URL into your browser and hit Enter. This again returns a list of interests and the size of the audiences that you can target.

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Would you ever come up with the interests ‘Titleist’ and ‘TayloreMade-Adidas’ yourself?

Together these two Marketing API methods provide a lot more than just the 25 interest suggestions that Facebook shows in their Ads Manager tool.

And they are all targetable with ads, so no disappointment after finding top interests via Google or Audience Insights only to discover that you can’t target them on Facebook…

Step 5: Search the interests on Facebook & Google

When you’re researching a niche that you’re not yet familiar with, you’ll surely encounter interests that you don’t know. You should always check these by searching for them on Facebook & Google to see if they are indeed relevant.

Facebook has a weird way of relating interests and they almost always return some unrelated interests. That’s why you should always check.

Just go to Google or Facebook and search for the interest to verify the relevance to your niche. You can also use the two links below.

Let’s check the interest ‘Titleist’ that the API suggests.

Replace the search term and hit Enter.

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It’s very relevant. And a great interest to target, because non-golfers wouldn’t know it.
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When you want to search for a keyword that is more than 1 word, replace the spaces with + signs in both URLs otherwise it doesn’t work in your browser.

So for example:

That’s all. It’s that easy to use the authenticate and use the Facebook Marketing API to do your targeting research. No developer needed.

Want to get these results… and more?

As you’ve learned in this step-by-step guide it’s easy to reveal hidden interests that you can target on Facebook, without your competition even knowing.

But still, it takes manual work. Manually searching interests, putting them in a sheet, de-duplicating the results and manually verifying their relevance.

It’s not hard, but it does take time.

That’s why I’ve built:

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is s a smart application that does the heavy lifting for you.

You can if you’d like to speed-up the process and get additional data but I also taught you how to DIY find hidden interests using Facebook’s Marketing API.

Happy targeting!

If you liked this article, please give it a clap 👏 (much appreciated!)

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