Facebook’s “Targeting Factors” for Advertising

To keep up with Facebook, it’s important to read the social media marketing publications and reports.  All Facebook is one such very useful online source.  Here are two recent excerpts from July 2009 posts on Facebook’s targeted advertising system:

 “Facebook provides 11 targeting factors for advertisers (with three new factors announced yesterday). Below is an outline of each of those factors:

1. Location – Facebook enables advertisers to target by country, state/provice, city, and metropolitan areas. All advertisements are required to have a location selected. This should be pretty straight-forward as to which location you’d like to select.
2. Age – Age is a standard demographic factor. Most marketers that have a well defined target-market will be able to select their age.
3. Birthday – This is one of Facebook’s latest advertising targeting filters. It should be pretty obvious what types of ads should be presented to people who’s birthday it is. Try wishin [sic] the user a happy birthday and offer them a gift for higher conversion rates.
4. Sex – Gender is another typical targeting filter for Facebook.
5. Keywords – Keywords will are based on a user’s profile information including Activities, Favorite Books, TV Shows, Movies, and more. I believe job titles are included in this field and I typically spend the most time trying to brainstorm effective keywords. What types of products do your customers like? What’s their job position within an organization? Spend time on this field and you’ll be rewarded.
6. Education – While you can target based on their level of education, this is most effective for targeting ads based on the schools that people went to. Want to announce a reunion for the University of Illinois class of 1996? This is a great way to promote it.
7. Workplaces – This is another great targeting filter. Often times you will know the companies that your target market works at. If you are looking to get new clients or looking to spread awareness within specific organizations, this filter can be priceless.
8. Relationship – Want to target people that are about to get married? This is a great tool for that. If you are a bar or club, you most likely want to go after those people that are single. While this filter can be useful, you also need to keep in mind that selecting any of these settings will remove all users that haven’t selected a relationship status in their profile.
9. Interested In – This factor is useful if a user’s sexual preferences are relevant to whatever you are advertising. I tend to skip this field for most of my ads.
10. Languages – If your ad is in English but the user speaks Chinese, it’s probably not a good idea to be displaying ads to them.
11. Connections – The connections fields were launched yesterday by Facebook and they enable you to include and exclude users based on pages, events, and applications that the users have joined and you happen to be the administrator of. If you’ve created a Page and don’t want the ads to display to people who have already joined, this is a great way to avoid duplicate clicks.

If you aren’t taking advantage of the numerous targeting factors then you aren’t using Facebook advertising effectively. In order to have an increased conversion rate on your advertisements, increase the targeting in order to make the advertisement more relevant for the users. Relevance will get people to respond to your ad.”


Over the past couple weeks I’ve been writing about hints of new targeting features for Facebook Ads. As of today, those features have gone live. This evening Facebook posted a note on the Facebook Ads page about three new filters: Connections, Locations, and Birthdays. We already posted about the multi-country advertisements but not about the additional two filters: connections and birthdays.

Connections enable advertisers to target members of groups, pages, or events that they own or target those users that are not already members. This avoids having ads show up for people that have already joined. Facebook is also now enabling advertisers to target those individuals who’s birthdays it is. These are extremely powerful targeting features that I’m sure advertisers will welcome.

Currently there are no advertising platforms (that I’m aware of) that provide this level of targeting capabilities. With these new features, Facebook will be able to increase revenue while increasing the effectiveness of ads. One thing that has been challenging for Facebook is to receive high conversion levels but with these new targeting features, creative advertisers will be able to increase their conversion levels.

One group that can also benefit from this new ad platform is application developers. Want to get new users that aren’t yet using your application? Now you can exclude all users of your existing application and only target those that haven’t installed it. This is something that as far as I know, no cost-per-install networks are able to provide yet. Facebook has been heavily focused on improving their advertising offerings over the past few weeks and with this latest announcement, it’s clear that Facebook is looking to provide powerful tools for all advertisers.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply