Getting people under 18 to engage with paid ads is tricky business. One reason is because Facebook doesn’t allow you to show some ad types (like lead gen) to anyone under 18. Another is because Facebook’s arbitrary policy enforcement could make it so your ads never see the light of day.
But perhaps the biggest problem of all is that teenagers are rarely the ultimate decision-makers in their lives. They have gatekeepers: their parents.
If you want to get the attention of high school students, you have to reach them through their parents.
In September 2017, we ran ads for a student event in Montgomery, Alabama. The goal was to get as many high school and college undergrad attendees as possible. We set up 3 audiences:
From the Law and Liberty event in Montgommery
Targeting broadly all high schoolers and undergraduate students in Alabama seemed to work fine, but when we broke down the performance by age demographic we saw this:
From the Law and Liberty in Montgomery
So it turned out that we had 2 responses from high schoolers, 6 from undergrads, and 6 from parents of high schoolers.
We ran ads for another event in Colorado Springs, Colorado a few weeks later, and saw something similar. We targeted both high schoolers and undergraduate students, and saw very few high school aged people respond to the event:
From an event in Colorado Springs
After noting all of this, we’ve started focusing our advertising efforts on parents of high schoolers instead of high schoolers themselves, and we’ve seen encouraging results.
From an ad for our 3-day summer seminars
Targeting parents on Facebook is extremely easy. When you’re creating an audience, you can add a demographic-based criterion called “Parents with teenagers (13–18 years).”
And that’s all there is to it! You can upload a custom audience or create a lookalike audience and apply this criteria to filter out the parents of high schoolers.
So if you’re putting on an event or looking to catch the interest of high schoolers using Facebook ads, your best bet is to target and appeal to their parents.