The most common type of audience or targeting on Facebook is interest-based targeting. Most event marketers are familiar with this. In fact, you probably use interest-based targeting numerous times when you create campaigns: If you press ‘Boost’ on your Facebook page and are prompted to input a handful of interests, that’s interest-based targeting. If you use Facebook’s guided campaign creation interface or edit a live ad set, interest-based targeting is what’s behind the section that prompts you to add demographics, interests, or behaviors. Those interests—i.e., an artist, a brand, a celebrity—impact the number of individuals that you're reaching.
Interest-based targeting is a great way to reach audiences that may be new to your brand. But to truly maximize the returns on a fixed ad budget, you need to go beyond interest-based targeting. You need to target individuals who are familiar with your brand or the brand of the talent you’ve booked.
To do this in Ads Manager, go to the section called Audiences. Click on the top left corner of your Ads Manager user interface and look for ‘Audiences.’ Within this section, press the button that says ‘Create Audience.’ From there, you can create two types of audiences:
With a custom audience, you give Facebook your customer list (i.e., a mailing list or an engagement-based list for a page that you have access to) and Facebook enables you to target those individuals directly.
With a lookalike audience, you give your customer list to Facebook and Facebook helps you find new people whose interests and demographics resemble those of the individuals on the customer list.
Everything flows from custom audiences. When you press that ‘Custom Audience’ button, you'll be presented with a wide variety of different custom audiences that you can make based off on different data sources. In the live events industry, the most popular data sources are:
Website: web traffic from your own website or your ticketing company, if you have your Facebook pixel;
Video: individuals who’ve watched more than three seconds of video you've uploaded to Facebook or Instagram;
Instagram business profiles: your Instagram followers/engagers, or followers/engagers of Instagram accounts to which you have page advertiser access;
Facebook page: individuals who directly liked or engaged with your page or events, if you utilize Facebook Events.
To create one of these audiences, simply click on the source of your choice. From there, use the wizard to create the custom audience.
To illustrate, say we wanted to create a custom audience of anyone who responded going to or interested in a particular Facebook page. When I select the going or interested button, that Facebook page appears. From there, I could create a custom audience that lets me advertise to those individuals directly.
As another example, I can create an audience based on any mailing list. When I select ‘Choose a File,’ from there I can upload my mailing list.
Once you've created any of these custom audiences, you can also create a lookalike audience. Say that you’re a beer festival and you want to find new people in your market. You can do that by taking a custom audience—say, web traffic—and giving it to Facebook to help you find new people. Simply click the box that says ‘All website visitors’ and click on these three dots to see ‘Create Lookalikes.’ Clicking on those three dots enables Facebook to create a lookalike audience that sources new individuals based on the custom audience source.
There's more to targeting than interest-based audiences. In the case of this example campaign, the interest-based audience didn’t draw sales, but advertising to the mailing list had incredibly attractive customer acquisition costs. The highest return on ad spend is what we’re after, which is why we utilize more than interest-based audiences.
Next up is a list & explanation of the most profitable audiences to target for Event Ads: