All About Custom Audiences on Facebook

Written by: 
Molly Niemczyk

Did you know that Facebook allows its advertisers to upload Custom Audiences? Learn what they are and how to use them below.


What is a Custom Audience?

A Custom Audience is an ad targeting option in Facebook that is created using consumer data you already have, such as a customer list. By uploading this data, you can more accurately target the people who are likely to be interested in your product or service.

A custom audience can be built from a variety of sources, such as website traffic, Facebook engagement data, or customer lists. Facebook allows advertisers to create up to 500 Custom Audiences per ad account.


Using a Customer List

If you have a pixel on your website, you can easily create a Custom Audience based on user behavior within Facebook (more on how to do that here). If, however, you want to upload your own customer list, there are a few extra steps. Don’t worry though, it’s still incredibly easy!

First, you need to make sure that your list is in the correct format, with each column of information titled with an “identifier”. Common identifiers include names and email addresses, but there are plenty of other options as well. If formatted correctly, Facebook will be able to automatically recognize the information and what it is. If not, the advertiser may still be able to manually identify the information within Facebook after the list has been uploaded.

Once this is done, Facebook hashes the information. This is a security measure that transforms the information into randomized code via an irreversible process. This hashed data is used to find matching Facebook profiles in order to build your Custom Audience. Once the audience is created, the hashed information is deleted. Facebook claims that it does not “learn any new identifying information about your customers”.


Creating a Lookalike Audience

So, you have your new Custom Audience. But what if you want to reach beyond those who have already interacted with your business in some way?

Lookalike audiences allow advertisers to reach people who are similar to their existing customers. All you have to do is select a Custom Audience, and then specify how similar you would like this new audience to be to your source audience. A smaller percentage will more closely match your source audience, while a larger percentage will provide a bigger (but broader) audience.

To create this audience, Facebook will look at things like demographics or behaviors to find people who share similar qualities with your source audience. (Note that your source audience is automatically excluded from this new lookalike audience.)


Get Started

Ready to create a Custom Audience of your very own? Learn even more about the different types of audiences you can create and how to get started here.


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