How to create the right target audience for your Facebook ad

Manjunath Bangera
Jan 9, 2018 · 6 min read

Facebook advertising has been instrumental in scaling our user base at HealthifyMe from 80k to 4Million in the last 2 years as we grew it into India’s Largest Health and fitness application. Here, I hope to share a few tips on what helped me drive the same.

Before we start, first thing first, do not expect overnight wonders to happen with Facebook Marketing. It’s a game of patience and regular optimization. So, if you are just getting started, be prepared to be invested for at least a month.


I will take the freedom of assuming that you are familiar with the basic targeting available on Facebook. If not, here is a step by step guide to launching a campaign. You should also give this article a read which explains various options available on Facebook Ad manager to build your target audience.

This article is not a guide to get familiar with the tool but make you understand how to use them. Here, I will try covering everything you need to take into consideration while building your target audience and what metrics you need to look at closely when you are looking to optimize your campaign.


#1: Size of your Target Audience

Size of your target audience is more important than you know. It’s easy to go wrong in the first step by going too narrow. Smaller the audience target higher the chances of tough competition resulting in higher CPM (Cost per thousand impressions). A narrow audience will also cause under delivery of your ad. So getting it right while ensuring that you are not making the audience group too small is the way to go!

Let Facebook work it’s magic: Remember, the Facebook algorithm is already built to narrow your target audience based on your campaign objective. For example: If your campaign objective is to get video views ( or even app installs ) — Facebook algorithm directly narrows down the audience to those who are prone to watch videos or install an app through Facebook Ads.

Further, after a first few hundred clicks (word around is 300), the algorithm further narrows down the audience automatically based on other profile attributes and social behavioural inputs. Ex: After running your ads for a while, Facebook gradually learns that within your target audience, people who like Jeffery Archer and share memes regularly are more prone to complete your campaign objective and hence shows them your ads. Side Note: If you want to do well in Facebook Marketing, you need to put time and effort into how the Facebook algorithm works.


#2: Lookalike Audiences

Once you have some data, you can help Facebook with these two steps through Lookalikes Audiences. If you already have a user base and you are not using this feature, you are committing a sin. Looking for post engagement? Create Lookalikes of Page Engagers. Looking to grow your App userbase? Create a Lookalikes of App Installers and so on.

To build a Lookalike first you will have to build a custom audience. This article here provides the in-depth understanding of how to do the same. You should check this out. Note: You can also use custom audience directly as your target audience in various scenarios, for example — website visitors for sales ads.

Your ad objective might not necessarily be your final KPI. For example in a lead Generation ad, while your primary ad objective is to get leads, your final KPI would be the conversion of those leads. You can read this blog on difference between KPI and Metrics if you are interested — Summing up the blog in a sentence ‘KPIs are strategic and metrics are tactical’ Here is another great blog on the same topic that you should go through if you are looking to run campaigns for App Installs.

While you can directly optimize for your KPI by adding it as a campaign objective, you might consider optimizing for KPI under the following circumstances.

  • Do not have SDK/Pixel in place for conversion tracking.
  • You are looking at a combined objective of increasing user base as well as optimizing your KPI.
  • Your conversion percentage is low.

Remember, ideally look to get at least 50–100 daily results in every ad set to ensure that Facebook algorithm has enough data to optimize. So chose your campaign objective accordingly.

If you are looking at only Interest and behavioural targeting. There are terrific things out there like people who have a higher affinity to buy high-value goods, parents of toddlers, newly weds etc.


#3: Break it down to Ad sets

You have set your Interest groups or LookaLikes. Now next step is to optimize for CPR (Cost per Result) and events there after by playing around with age, gender and geo.

Here is how- You had initially set your age bracket as 20 to 40 years old. Once you have enough data, you notice that conversion percentage for users between 30–40 is double of that between 20 -30, then you can go ahead and split your campaign into two ad sets for each age group. If your cost per result is now Rs.20 for the ad set targeting age group 20–30, you now know that a cost per result of anything below Rs.40 for the other ad set is better than the first. This will help you use your budgets effectively and also decide on your bids. Facebook currently gives you age buckets of 10. High time you gave us narrower cohorts, Facebook?

Likewise you can split your campaign based on gender, geography or a combination of two or all.

By not splitting your audience according to age, gender and location you would most possibly notice the following.

  • Ads being served mostly to lower age groups
  • Ads being served to mostly Male
  • Ads being Served in top tier cities

I wouldn’t call them problem exactly as this would depend on who exactly you are trying to reach.

Why does this happen? — A large percentage of active users on Facebook are below the age of 25 and hence higher reach and lesser competition resulting in your campaign being mostly delivered to this category. A similar case holds good for gender. Only 3 out of 10 internet users in India are women. The number is sure to be more skewed as we target older age groups.

But again, as you go narrower, you will see your CPM go higher but this also increases CTR and your Ad Relevance. Hence, striking the right balance is the key. As long as you are satisfied with your CPR and your final KPI, you are on the right track. I will cover how you ads (creative, text copy and placements) effects your CPMs and how to optimize for the same, in the next blog.


#4: Use Connections

If you are running an App Install exclude people who already have your app (You will have to have the Facebook SDK in your app for this) or if you are running a campaign for page likes, exclude people who have already liked your page and so on.

If you want to boost a post only among your page followers, you can choose that here too.

Why boost a post or run an ad to your page followers? A newsfeed of any individual has content shared by his friends and those by pages. The last I checked, among the page post that appears on one’s newsfeed, roughly about 7 out 8-page posts were allocated for ads/boosted content. While the remaining slots are for organic reach. Cannot blame Facebook for monetizing the wonderful platform they have created. Here is another take on boosting your posts that I personally liked.


#5: Keep an eye on estimated Daily Reach:

This not always a 100% accurate, but make sure you are getting enough reach for proper utilization of budget. You need to get familiar with a concept called pacing here.

This becomes extremely important when you are on automatic bidding. I will blog on my take on this soon when I talk about how to decide on the right budget and the best practises while scaling your spends. For now, you can refer to this blog from Facebook.


On the whole, CPM, CTR and CPR are three levers you have to play with while ensuring you get the audience right while also making sure you give Facebook enough data to run its own optimization. All this while ensuring that your final KPI is met.

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Manjunath Bangera

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Digital Marketing Nerd | Helping businesses take off!