Targeting - The Many Types Of Audiences You Can Create In Facebook

Targeting is arguably the most important part of your marketing to get right, and one of the key pillars of the 40/40/20 principal. The targeting options on Facebook were one of the main reasons I chose to use Facebook Ads when I started my first online business. Here we'll explain all of the targeting options you have available to create audiences when you are using Facebook Ads. 

Why is targeting so important?

Who wants to be spending money on advertising only for it to be seen by someone that has no interest or intention at all, in what you are offering? Yes, there are going to be a lot of people who see your ads that don't take action, but if the targeting is off, then it's going to be hard to make any sort of profit from your campaign.

General Targeting Options on Facebook

We start by choosing the standard targeting options like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender

Detailed Targeting

You can use detailed targeting to further define your audience by including or excluding certain demographics, interests and behaviours. There are simply too many of these to list and you can chose almost any interest imaginable.


This is where you can choose people who like your page, friends of people who like your page or exclude people who like your page. Also in connections there are options to target an app or event you have, and whether people who have interacted.

Custom Targeting Options

The Facebook custom audience creator is one of the most powerful targeting tools for any marketer, and I believe every business should be utilising these audiences, even if it is a just a small budget, which is all you actually need most of the time. 

Depending on what type of advertising objective and creatives you are using, you may find you use more of these custom audiences than others. Below I'll explain in more detail the options.

Targeting Website Visitors

This I would say most often will be your best custom audience. By creating a custom audience based on website visitors we know these people are further along the customer journey than others, thus closer to becoming a customer or client.

We can track website visitors up to the past 180 days, and these audiences can be segmented further again if required, by specific pages visited, time spent on your website or conversion events (like add to cart or purchase for example).

For example for an online retail store we want to create a custom audience for anybody who has added to cart in the past 7 days. We can either chose the conversion event 'add to cart' or type in the URL of the cart page and this will put together an audience of people who have added a product to their cart.

Now what we would also want to do in this example is create an audience that has already purchased in the last 7 days, and exclude them from seeing this ad, so we're not wasting ad spend on people who have already converted.

Sometimes we just get distracted when we are about to purchase something and need a reminder to come back to the store and finish off the purchase.

Another example of this audience in use would be somebody who has visited your contact page but not filled out the form. The people who get this far are showing a lot of intent by visiting your contact page but they may not have just be ready to follow through.

What we would do here is create an audience of people who have visited your contact page in the last 7 days and exclude those who have filled the form out. The people left may just need to be reminded again about your business or they may need a better offer to entice them to get over the line. This is where we need to test different creatives and offers to see what works best.

Customer List

This is a list of customers you have already compiled for your business. They may be email subscribers or past customers you are trying to get in front of to purchase again. You can simply upload this list into Facebook and it will cross check email addresses or phone numbers against their records and create an audience from that.

You may find only a porting of your list will be in this audience as sometimes the data they give you and what they give Facebook will not match up.

App Activity

As the name suggests, like custom website audience you can choose to create an audience of people how have take specific actions on your app or based by time spent using the app.

Offline Activity

Here you can create an audience based on people who have interacted with your business in store or over the phone. To start collecting this offline activity you need head to 'Events Manager' in your Facebook Business Manager Account and set it up. There is integration software you can use to send data directly to Facebook, but also you can upload them manually from your POS data.


Here we can create a custom audience based on how much of a video somebody has watched, either through an ad or organic Facebook post. You can create an audience up to the last 365 days, based on a certain time or percentage of the video they watched.

This is one of the reasons I do prefer longer video lengths (90 seconds plus) as the longer you can keep somebody engaged, the more they will know about you and the closer they are likely to becoming a customer. Using shorter videos like 15-30 seconds long, makes it harder to determine whether they are a genuine prospect or not, as they haven't had to be engaged for a longer period.

Instagram Business Profile

This includes anybody who has interacted with either your Instagram profile, post or ad. You can create an audience of people from up to the last 365 days. Further segmenting based on most specific actions on Instagram can also be chosen.

Lead Form

This custom audience is for those who are using Facebook lead forms as their advertising objective. You can create an audience based on whether somebody has or hasn't opened and filled out the lead form. Maximum audience time is the last 90 days.


This custom audience is for those who have interacted with a Facebook event that you have posted or promoted. You can create an audience based on people who have interacted with any part of the event or more specific actions like, going, interested, people who have bought tickets, people who have visited the event page and a few more.

Instant Experience

An Instant Experience ad (formerly known as canvas ad) is a type of ad creative you can create in Facebook and the best way to describe it would be like creating a webpage in Facebook that opens when somebody click on the ad. You can create a custom audience of people who have either clicked to open the instant experience or people who have clicked on an instant experience.

Facebook Page

This is where you can create custom audiences based on who has interacted with your Facebook page, whether it be a like, share, comment, clicked on a post to see a photo, swiped to view a carousel ad, sent your page a message or saved a post from your page from up to the last 365 days.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

With a Facebook Lookalike Audience, you can reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they're similar to your existing customers. You choose a source audience, for example a list of your current customers or an audience of people who have filled out a contact form on your website.

Then once this source audience is selected or downloaded to Facebook, it will then identify the common qualities of the people in it. Then Facebook will find people like them, using your selected location and desired audience size to create your Lookalike Audience.