Facebook Advertising Options & Targeting Capabilities

Lauren Owens - May 12, 2015

Thanks to the data that Facebook has on its users, advertisers can precision-target their customers or likely customers in order to accomplish a number of objectives, including increasing visibility, driving traffic, and even increasing app downloads. If you’ve never advertised on Facebook, consider this your Facebook advertising primer. In this post, we’re talking opportunities, targeting options and best practices for advertising within Facebook.

Advertising Opportunities

acebook advertising opportunities

Facebook’s advertising opportunities are almost as diverse as its user base. Through its advertising backend, marketers can choose from a plethora of ad opportunities, including:

Post Promotion

You can “boost” your everyday Facebook posts by paying for increased News Feed distribution, thereby increasing your posts’ reach within Facebook. But you won’t want to do this for every post. Read our tips for boosting Facebook posts for more information.

Website Promotion

Website promotion is perhaps the most common type of ad on Facebook and where most advertisers concentrate their efforts. If you are specifically tracking conversions, you can install Facebook’s conversion pixel in order to track conversions right inside your page’s Facebook Insights.

Event Promotion

Advertisers and event promoters can market specific events by choosing the event option on the advertising backend. The ad will then take users to your Facebook Event page. If you host a lot of events, you can run specific ads designed to encourage users to subscribe to get information about your events all within Facebook.

App Advertising

If you have an app you want to promote, there are two ways to do it within Facebook. You can market the app to mobile users using various calls to action, including “Shop Now” and “Listen Now,” or simply increase app engagement among users who have already installed your app.

Video Advertising

If you have a video you’re excited to share, or specifically want to run a video ad, you can choose the “Get Video Views” objective within the ad creation tool, and upload the video you want to use. Please note that while you can choose your video thumbnail, your thumbnail cannot contain over 20% text. (This is the same as Facebook’s rule for image ads.)

Page Promotion

One of the oldest forms of advertising on Facebook, you can promote your page to likely followers in order to build your audience on Facebook by increasing the number of users who “like” your page. Note: Because Facebook no longer distributes branded content to all users, if your budget is limited, page promotion might not be the way to go. If, however, your objective is to build your audience within Facebook and increase your brand’s visibility in the long term, this can still be a good option.

Offer Promotion

Offers within Facebook are similar to offers within Groupon. They’re simply a way to increase interest in your product or service by introducing the idea of scarcity. To create an offer, select the “get people to claim your offer” option within the ad manager.

Product Listing Ads

At this point, product listing ads (PLAs) are only available to select advertisers. Soon, though, they should be available to everyone. Product listing ads contain curated product feeds that enable advertisers with a large catalog to advertise multiple products within the same ad.

Targeting Options

How you target your ad in Facebook should be directly related to the purpose of your campaign. If you want to enhance your brand’s exposure amongst likely customers, you might target Lookalike Audiences. If you want to promote an annual sale, you might create a custom audience of email subscribers. We recommend spending some time thinking about targeting before you place your ad, because targeting, more than anything else, can determine the success of your ad.

Facebook’s targeting options include:

Demographic information

Using demographic targeting, you can target users based on age, gender, relationship status, workplace, education, behavior and interests. Interests can be extremely broad, such as “gardening” or narrowly defined, such as “organic vegetable gardening.” The more narrowly you define your audience, the smaller this audience will be. (But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – depending on your purpose and your budget, you may want to target a small group of users who are extremely likely to convert based upon the relevance of their interests to your ad.)

Custom Audiences & Remarketing

Through Facebook’s Custom Audience targeting, you can create custom audiences within Facebook based upon:

  • The user’s activity – specifically, whether or not they’ve browsed items on your site (remarketing). This is done via a remarketing pixel.
  • The user’s email address. This is done via your CRM.
  • The user’s Facebook ID and page likes. This is Facebook’s “Lookalike” option.

These options enable you to target ads specifically to a well-defined (and qualified) group of users. They can even help enhance the power of your email campaigns.


Through this option, you can choose whether to target users who are already connected to your page, or users who are “Friends of Connections” that is, friends of your current followers.

Tips for Success

Like anything, success depends on a number of factors, including how much you’ve planned, and thought through your ad before running it. In addition to defining the strategy and purpose behind your ad before you run it, we recommend that you:

Test Your Ads

In order to get the most out of your ad dollar, it’s essential to test your ads, and your landing pages, before devoting a large part of your budget toward them. Luckily, a small amount of money can go a long way in Facebook, making running small tests extremely cost effective.

Clearly Define Your Audience

Before you publish your ad, make sure you clearly define your audience and your purpose. Specifically, decide who you’re targeting and why. This won’t be the same for every campaign.

Use Good Creative

Once your ad is in front of your target audience, it’s only got a fraction of a second in order to get their attention. So, make sure your creative, and ad copy, is designed to attract, and influence, your intended audience. (This is what testing is for!) Note: For some ads, Facebook allows you to include a number of images. When you do, Facebook will randomly select the image the user sees, eventually choosing the image most effective at driving engagement.

Don’t Forget Your Landing Pages

Success happens on your website so make sure your landing pages are an ideal “match” for your ads. Landing pages that send users to an unexpected page, or that don’t contain the same messaging, will not work as well as pages that mirror the imagery and messaging of your ad.

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