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Jun 18 2014

New Facebook Lookalike Audience Options Explained

Facebook recently opened up expanded options for Lookalike Audiences. Now you can target even more people who are similar to those who have already interacted with your brand. These new features are absolutely amazing and you should be super excited about them.

Here’s what I want to go over with you:

  • What Are Lookalike Audiences?
  • Lookalikes of the Past
  • Lookalikes for Website Visitors
  • Lookalikes for Conversion Pixels
  • Lookalikes for Pages
  • Lookalikes for Mobile App Users

What Are Lookalike Audiences?

They allow you to create a list of Facebook users that are similar to your current audience. You can then target that list with ads and reach a much larger group of people. There are 2 types of lookalike audiences that you can choose from: Similarity & Greater Reach. Optimizing for similarity finds the the top 1% of users in a given country that match your list. Optimizing for greater reach returns the top 5% of users in a given country that match your list. It’s a great way to take a list of 1,000 people and turn it into a list of 2 million with almost no effort. It’s a great way to get exposure when you’re just starting out!

Lookalikes of the Past

In the past, this was a two-step process with no real options:

  1. Create a Custom Audience
    In most cases, advertisers would upload an e-mail list to create their initial custom audience. Facebook would then match those addresses to actual accounts that could be targeted with ads. To fill in the gaps, phone numbers or Facebook UIDs could be used to build the audience.
  2. Create a Lookalike Audience from that Custom Audience
    After the custom audience was created, advertisers could make a second request to have a lookalike audience created. You could choose to optimize for similarity or reach.

Lookalikes for Website Visitors

Back in January, Facebook launched Website Custom Audiences. This amazing feature allows advertisers to target visitors to their websites. This includes any general visitor as well as visitors to specific pages.

Soon after, Facebook briefly made Lookalike Audiences available for website custom audiences. But that period of time was very short-lived. Until now. I’d like to point out that not everyone has had these features the whole time. They were rolled out in batches starting with the beta group so you may not have seen them until just recently.

This is great news on several levels.

First, you can find users similar to any visitor to your website. If you don’t get much traffic, this will allow you to target relevant users while expanding the net from what was otherwise a very small group of people.

Second, you can find users similar to those who visited a specific page of your site. You could use the success page following a conversion, for example, as your basis for a Lookalike Audience. So Facebook would then find users similar to those who bought a particular product (though that will come up again shortly).

Finally, you can find users similar to those who visited a specific section of your site. For this to work, the URL structure needs to include that category within it — or visitors need to be guided to specific landing pages when looking for product types.

An example would be visitors to a retail website that sells men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, hats and bags. It’s important that Website Custom Audiences be created for visitors to each individual section so that they — or their Lookalikes — can be targeted on Facebook.

Lookalikes for Conversion Pixels

Facebook now also allows advertisers to generate Lookalike Audiences for a specific Conversion Pixel. This would allow marketers to target users similar to those who converted (sale, registration, lead, etc.).

Keep in mind that this can essentially be done via Website Custom Lookalike Audiences, too. There has actually been talk of merging conversion pixels and Website Custom Audiences, and here is an example of why that may be necessary.

Regardless, a dynamic way to target Facebook users similar to those who have bought from us is an important development. While you could target a Lookalike Audience based on email addresses of customers in the past, that email list was not dynamic.

Lookalikes for Pages

Quite possibly the most interesting development of all. Advertisers can now generate a Lookalike Audience of pages within their control so that they can target users similar to their own fans.

[NOTE: No, you cannot create Lookalike Audiences of pages outside of your control.]

This will be very helpful for brands looking to grow, but lacking substantial traffic or an email list.

Lookalikes for Mobile App Users

Finally, advertisers now have the option of generating a Lookalike Audience of users who currently use their mobile apps.

Mobile App Custom Audiences are relatively new (they came out along with Website Custom Audiences) and allow marketers to retarget those who make specific actions within their apps.

Now they’ll be able to target users similar to those who make these actions.

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