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Annoyed of Facebook Advertising? Here’s How Facebook Ad Targeting Works

Facebook: Some people love it, some people hate it. It allows you to stay in contact with people from all different phases of your life, while also being one of the fastest news outlets we’ve ever encountered. Thanks to Facebook ad targeting, being a business and needing to make money, your Newsfeed is also full of ads.

More often than not, we hear, “These ads are so annoying.” “They aren’t relevant to me.” “How does Facebook even think I’d be interested in something like this?” What I’m here to tell you is that YOU do have power to change what types of ads you see.

A Brief History of Targeted Online Advertising

Before we dive into how Facebook’s ad targeting works, let’s start with a brief history of targeted online advertising. Since the 1990’s, targeted advertising has been part of the internet experience. Many of us remember when surfing the web used to mean navigating through a torrent of unwelcome pop-up ads; when digital advertising meant flashing banners and random irrelevant sidebar ads.


Display ads started becoming increasingly targeted, as advertisers became more interested in targeting specific consumer demographics. In 1997, we witnessed the explosion of pop-up advertisements, which many consider the most hated advertising technique of all time. In fact, the original developers have apologized for creating the underlying code that made them possible.


Advertisers turned to paid search and pay-per-click, which are still widely used today. It wasn’t until around 2006 that digital ads became hyper-targeted in the way they are today. Social media platforms saw their user bases grow rapidly, giving marketers a new way to reach younger internet users who mostly ignored banner ads.

2006 – Present

Advertisers have continued targeting consumers with relevant social ads, rather than bombard them with large volumes of ad content. It is now the standard practice of online advertisers, particularly when it comes to Facebook and other social networks like Twitter, YouTube and Google+. The goal is to deliver an ad experience that feels personalized but not aggressive.

How Facebook’s Ad Targeting Works

facebook advertising

It’s important to understand how Facebook’s ad targeting works. Facebook allows advertisers to target based on device, location, demographics, interests, behaviors, as well as different advanced targeting methods. At the click of a button, anyone can create Facebook ads to encourage users to ‘like’ posts, install apps, visit other websites or click on a call-to-action.

When you create a profile on Facebook, you’re required to enter information about your age, religion, education, political views and favorite movies, music and books. Building your profile helps your friends get to know you better, but what you might not be aware of is that Facebook uses that same data to deliver a personalized ad experience.facebook advertisingHere are some of the key metrics advertisers use to target you on Facebook and other social media:

  1. Locationcomes from the location stated on your timeline and verified by your IP address
  2. Demographicsbased on age, gender, relationship status, education, and job shared directly in Facebook profile
  3. Interestsidentified by keywords linked to pages you like, apps you use, information on your Timeline, and other ads you’ve clicked on
  4. Behaviors things you do directly on Facebook (i.e. – watch videos, click ads, pages visited, etc.) that show intent, travel preferences, etc. Behavior data for targeting is also compiled by offline activity provided to Facebook from trusted third-party partners.
  5. Custom Audiencetargets email lists that are tied directly to your Facebook login
  6. Re-targeting keeps the recent site(s) you visited in reach directly on Facebook

As you can see, there are a wide range of data metrics that businesses utilize to target an audience. With this information at their fingertips, businesses can determine the proper ways to target their audience without being “that annoying ad” that we’ve all come to resent.

Who Should Invest In Facebook Advertising?

What types of businesses are best suited for advertising on Facebook? Who should invest in Facebook Advertising? Facebook is a difficult channel to directly sell product without having any other type of nurturing campaign in place. According to Facebook, the businesses that have the most success in advertising on their platform are businesses looking to get people to sign up/fill out a form for something and those businesses trying to build brand awareness.

For example, a software company interested in generating demo requests or trials might use Facebook ads to drive traffic to a landing page with a form to fill out. We have found that Facebook generally offers a less expensive way to get impressions and traffic to a site when compared to other advertising channels such as Google or Bing.

Facebook Advertising Can Complement SEO Efforts

While SEO is more of a long-term effort, Facebook advertising can be complementary by driving results more quickly. There’s really no other medium like Facebook advertising where you can get quite as granular when it comes to how you’re targeting certain types of users to drive conversion. With the analytics capabilities of Facebook’s Ad Manager, you can gain insight into new content ideas, microsites to build and promotions to offer your customers.

Once a business verifies that Facebook advertising is the right channel for their campaign objectives, it is important for them to determine the best variables that will help them to get in front of their target audience with the appropriate messaging while also remembering that people interact differently on social media compared to other sites online.

When was the last time you updated your Facebook profile? For most people, the answer is “when I setup my profile….3, 5, 10 years ago.” Think about the quotes you put it, the music/artists you typed in, favorite movies you allowed the world to see. Since our tastes, styles, and lives change over time, it’s no wonder we aren’t getting relevant advertising coming our way.

Ready to Invest in Facebook Advertising? Parqa can help

If you’re ready to invest in Facebook advertising for your business, Parqa can help. Our social media marketing specialists can help develop a strategy to target the customers you want on Facebook and drive more leads and sales to your website.

We’ll help you maximize the efficiency of your social media marketing efforts so that you see results at minimum spend.

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