Facebook Advertising: Find Out Why You’re Being Targeted

POSTED: April 4, 2017 BY: CATEGORY:

Facebook advertising is known for its many and varied targeting options. It’s this ability to drill down into the very nuts and bolts of an audience that makes Facebook advertising so appealing to marketers but it can sometimes leave the rest of us a bit mystified.

As someone who’s often on the receiving end of seemingly completely irrelevant Facebook ads, I find it interesting to look at why I am being shown those ads and pick up some strategic tips in the process. If you do any Facebook advertising, you want to know that your ads are relevant to the people who are seeing them, and this means avoiding a few common pitfalls.

The criteria certain advertisers use when deciding who to show ads to and who to leave out is known as microtargeting. Microtargeting is an interesting and effective advertising strategy and I’ve found that looking at what other brands and organisations use as targeting criteria can often spark ideas for my own future campaigns.

In a recent article in the New York Times, Jeremy B. Merrill dissected some of the Facebook ads from the recent US election to see why some people who were obvious Hilary supporters might have been shown ads for Donald Trump and vice versa. The results showed that often it’s not about basic demographics like gender and age, but more about other factors including your location or what you might have searched on previously.

If you’re curious to see why you’ve been targeted for certain ads (and at the same time learn about some of the strategies other brands are using), here’s how to do it:

  • Identify an ad in your Facebook newsfeed
  • Click on the V-shaped grey arrow at the top right hand corner of the ad.
  • Click on the button that says Why Am I Seeing This.
  • You will get a pop up with an explanation.

When you discount the obvious targeting criteria like age, location, gender and interests, there are a number of other, less obvious ones that are often used by marketers. A common one is email address. If you’ve given an organisation your email address previously, they can upload it to Facebook and it will then be matched with your profile.

If you have a well-established email list for your own business, this is a strategy that can be worth trying. People who have given you their email address have already shown interest in your business or organisation so it makes sense to show them ads with the aim of converting them into paying customers.

Sometimes you may be targeted based on your general Facebook activities. Facebook has a feature known as look alike audiences. These are people who share a general pattern of likes, clicks and Facebook activity with a brand’s target audience. This strategy helps brands find other people who might be interested in them but aren’t yet on their radar.

Retargeting is another often used Facebook strategy. When you visit a brand’s website a cookie is placed in your browser. After you leave the site, ads for the brand will follow you around the Internet, including on Facebook.

Finding out why you’re being targeted for seemingly irrelevant or contradictory ads can help you learn more about your online footprint and it can also be a great way to get ideas about how to target (and how not to target) people in your own Facebook advertising.

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#Jo Macdermott - turning good businesses into great businesses is all in a day’s work for marketing consultant, Jo Macdermott. Jo leads Next Marketing, a multiple award winning business, which she has grown from scratch. Jo is commercial, empathetic and always has her eye on the end game.