Researching Target Audiences with Facebook’s Ads Manager

By Stephanie Diamond, John Haydon

Facebook’s Ad tools are intended primarily to be used by advertisers to create, launch, and manage advertising campaigns. You can use the Ads Manager for your mobile and desktop ads, or use the Power Editor if you have multichannel ads (Facebook, Instagram, and others).

Facebook Ads Manager
You can use Facebook’s Ads Manager tool to better understand your target audience.

Using the Facebook Ad tool as a research tool allows you to answer questions such as these:

  • How many Facebook users near my business’s location are married and between the ages of 35 and 39?
  • How many fans of my Facebook Page are also fans of my competitor’s Facebook Page?
  • How many of my target customers are already fans of my competitor’s Facebook Page?

The following list describes several target segment criteria you can research with the Facebook Ads Manager:

  • Locations: You can research a target audience based on where they live. You can target broadly with countries or get as specific as cities. Note that if a city has no Facebook users living there, that city may not be available as a selection. (This situation is rare, however.)
  • Age: When a person first signs up on Facebook, she’s required to enter her date of birth. This information allows you to see how many users are within a particular age range or are a specific age.

    Always begin targeting with broad criteria, such as location, and then add more specific criteria, such as interests. This step allows you to get a sense of the possible reach of people you can target on Facebook. As you add or remove targeting criteria in the Ad tool, Facebook automatically updates the estimated audience number.

    estimated audience
    Facebook updates the estimated audience as you select target criteria.
  • Gender and languages: You can research a target audience based on their gender or what language they speak. Note that if you don’t make a language selection, the Ad tool automatically defaults to the official language of the country that the user is located in.
  • Interests: This selection allows you to research the various interests people have expressed through Pages they liked, group they joined, and other actions they took within and without the Facebook network.
    Facebook ads interests
    Facebook allows you to target a wide variety of interests.

    Researching Facebook interests is very different from researching search-engine keywords. If you sell hiking shoes, for example, you’d use “hiking boots” to research search-engine keywords but would use “backpacking” or “National Wildlife Federation” to research various Facebook audiences.

As you select keywords and phrases to target, Facebook automatically suggests additional likes and interests that other users have selected. As you add these keywords to your criteria, the estimated-reach number updates to reflect the keywords you’ve added.

  • Behaviors: Facebook has partnered with several third-party data sources for consumer-behavior information such as charitable activity, purchasing behavior, and travel habits. The biggest providers of this third-party data include Acxiom, DLX, and Epsilon.
  • Connections: In this section, you can target fans, friends of fans, and so on. Targeting people in this way can help you spread your message by word of mouth.
    target Facebook connections
    Facebook allows you to target connections of your Page and their friends.