Facebook Ads vs Google Adwords: The Facebook Ad Targeting Advantage


You’ve had to wait a whole 24 hours. Here it is, part two of my comprehensive look at how to make Facebook Ads work for your business.

Have you struggled for conversions, balked at the click-through-rates and decided the ROI wasn’t worth it for your business? Well hold on for just one second. If you haven’t already, head over to part one of this two part series and then come straight back, because we’ve  got some targeting to do.

This article (second of a two-part series focused, basically, around why Facebook Ads don’t suck) will briefly touch on the preconceptions I discussed at length in part one. I’ll go on to discuss targeting your Facebook Ad for conversions with traditional demographics, precise and broad categories, custom audience, lookalike audience and re-targeting.

It’s targeting that really sets Facebook Ads apart from Google – making them awesome for lead generation for B2B businesses, and great for re-targeting a lapsed customer for B2C.

Myths and Misconceptions:

You likely know that Google Adwords works based on keywords that people type into search. A user types in something they’re interested in, and an ad pops up. Basically, your interested market comes to you.

You likely also know that Facebook Ads work entirely differently.

With Facebook Ads, you have to go to your target market, they don’t come to you. Yes, this will probably result in lower click-through-rates (though, if you’re targeting well and have optimized and designed your Ads well, not as much of a difference as you might think), but Facebook Ads give you something Google Ads can’t:

A fantastic platform for communicating with your target market.

A platform great for communicating with your existing customers or individuals with the exact same characteristics as people who have already bought from you.

And, if you do a little book-reading, and failed to convert.

Facebook is the largest advertising audience ever assembled in one place and Facebook Ads a tool that allows you to focus on the exact market you want to capture, the lead you want to convert, and the customer you lost along the way.

1. Target by traditional demographics to maximize conversions

For sales, the general targeting capabilities are awesome because it means you’re able to hone in on the exact market you’re looking to attain. It also means that you save money, as only people you want to see your ad can do so. It’d be like running a TV ad for men’s body wash and making sure 100% of your TV audience is male. Or an ad for diapers and making sure 100% of your TV audience is made up of parents with babies aged 0-3.

For B2B, general targeting is less important, because your target market is rarely delineated by location, gender or age (and we can target far more specifically – by interest in your sector, for instance – anyway). I’ll show you how below.

Targeting by traditional demographics:

  • Location : Given that Facebook has a user-base of 1.2 billion, honing in on the city your business is based in is pretty damn useful.
  • Gender : For B2B and SaaS businesses, targeting by gender is pretty unnecessary. However, many E-commerce businesses will find this a useful targeting tool.
  • Age: Both B2B and B2C companies will find targeting by age useful. B2B companies can target their ads towards an older demographic with more buying power while B2C can target ads based on their product’s target market.

Top tip: An easy way for B2B companies to A/B Test their Facebook Ads is by targeting one at women and the other at men – giving you two equal halves whose gender shouldn’t impact your offer. The same can be done by targeting one ad at the the 35-45 age demographic and one at 45-55s. As these factors shouldn’t impact the performance of the ad, if there is an effect you’ll know it’s based on the variable changes you’re testing.

2. Target by precise interest and broad category to increase ad ROI

Precise Interest targeting allows you to define your advertisement target by what they are interested in. Facebook identifies interests from:

  • Listed interests
  • Activities
  • Education and job titles
  • Pages they Like
  • Apps they use
  • Groups to which they belong

This means you can target your ebook on A/B testing to people who have stated, in no uncertain terms, that they’re interested in A/B testing. Or target your new winter line in people who have stated they’re interested in fashion. Or, for lead generation, target your service or tool at CPO’s, CMO’s or CEO’s – depending on your market.


Broad Category targeting allows you to target your audience based on what they’ve included in their timelines. Facebook identifies broad category interests like:

  • Relationship status
  • Political leanings
  • Travel
  • Birthdays
  • Change in job
  • Recently moved
  • Recently bought or sold a vehicle

This means you can target your re-usable hemp diapers at new parents (who are also ‘precisely’ interested in saving the environment).

Top Tip: Most 3rd party Facebook Ads tools give an estimated reach metric as you alter your target audience and ad budget. Keep a close eye on this as you want a balance between a large enough audience to get the response you want and a small enough one that you can be sure you’re getting clicks from your target market.

3. Target your market to an existing email list

Facebook Ads can be targeted by your email list – a really cool function to parallel your email marketing efforts, retain customers, bring back lapsed customers, or offer exclusive deals.

Your list could be the same one that you contact with a monthly newsletter, marketing emails, or of your entire merchant/customer list. You likely keep this list in a good CRM or an email service like Mailchimp (or even Gmail or Outlook).

Your business’ contact list (either email addresses or phone numbers) correspond to a user on Facebook. Your Facebook Ad tool will allow you to input them line by line. Facebook then takes these details and amalgamates the information into a list of users who you know are interested in what your business has to offer.

6 ways to use this function:

  1. Target your Facebook Ad at the segment of your list who consistently buys from you (or those on the PRO plan). Reward their loyalty with an exclusive deal. Make sure they know only they’re getting access.
  2. Target your Facebook Ad at the segment of your list who bought once and haven’t since. Give them another opportunity to buy with a discount or offer. Frame your ad creative around ‘Where have you gone? Just for you this week, AcmeSaaS is offering our gold plan for the price of the basic (offer worth $300).
  3. Create an ad for those contest entrants who didn’t win. Give a ‘Consolation Prize! Enter here for $10 free credit toward your next purchase with AcmeSweaters.
  4. Give one more opportunity: Doing it again! // Invite your friends for one more chance to win a $500 gift card to Acme this Christmas.
  5. After purchasing: Thanks for buying! // Your purchase entitles you to a 50% discount on the AcmeGlassesCase. Enter here
  6. Exclusive to recent/frequent purchasers: Thank you! // We’re rewarding our most loyal customers with a chance at $250!

And yes, your ads tool allows you to save any imported contact list within its own CRM. This means you can come back and target to that list again and again with different ads, contests, and emails.

These are people who are already nurtured leads. You know they like what you’re selling, as they’ve bought, or downloaded, or otherwise engaged with your business before.

Click-through-Rates on your average Facebook Ad are around .03. With Custom Audience targeting it’s not unheard of to see .15 and above.

4. Targeting by a lookalike audience (something nobody else has)

Once you’ve created a Custom Audience in your Facebook Ad tool, you can create what’s called a lookalike audience. A lookalike audience is exactly what it sounds like: an audience of users generated by Facebook that best matches your imported contact list.

Facebook examines demographic similarities like age segment, gender, and location as well as precise interests and broad categories (information like marital status, children, job title, etc). An algorithm within Facebook matches these demographic details with existing Facebook users and finds the best possible match for your next ad.

Why are lookalike audiences the next best thing in advertising?

You’ve worked long and hard to generate the leads you have. Lookalike audiences allow you to use those leads for more than just a possible sale. You can use them to find new leads — and use that set of leads to find another!

How you can use it:

  • Create a lead-generating ad, landing page, or contest
  • Import the list of generated leads into your Facebook Ad tool and create a custom list
  • Create a lookalike audience from that list
  • Run a similar ad or contest to that lookalike list
  • Rinse and repeat

Basically, what you’ve now done is generated a set of leads interested in your business (whether that interest is in an ebook, a gift card, or a product). You’ve then generated another list of people extremely similar to that first list and targeted them with something that you know people like them are interested in.

5. Retargeting your Facebook Ads

Retargeting is, like a lookalike audience, exactly what it sounds. With a retargeting tool (like ReTargeteror AdRoll), you can specifically focus your ad on individuals who have trafficked to any page of your website. You can segment your ads based on the stages these individuals have reached within your sales funnel.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re running a Facebook Ad for a free weekend spa getaway contest. Say 150 people traffic from your ad to the contest’s landing page on your website, but only 80 of those people convert and enter the contest.

Because you’ve placed a re-targeting trigger on that landing page and the Facebook Ad itself (they’re little bits of code, or ‘pixels’), you know exactly which 70 people from Facebook didn’t enter. They were interested, but your landing page didn’t grip them.

WIth Facebook re-targeting, you can create a new ad focused on providing them with more information, a better value-proposition, or a more desirable reward. You’re paying less in ad spend (because Facebook Ads are PPC) to reach a select group of people who you know are intrigued by what your business offers.

For more information on conversion tracking pixels, including how they work and how to implement them, check out my article ‘ How to Use the Facebook Ad Conversion Pixel to Track E-commerce Checkouts’.


Originally I set out to write one article about why Facebook Ads don’t suck, but it ended up being 4000 words so I split it into a two part series. What does that mean? It means there’s a lot about Facebook Ads that doesn’t suck.

If you don’t have the time or energy to do it all this targeting, optimization stuff yourself, try using a 3rd party app like Wishpond’s Free Facebook Ad Manager. We have experts who target Facebook Ads for you, and can answer any questions you have about conversion tracking pixels, re-targeting, lookalike audiences, etc.

If you want to give it a shot yourself, I recommend the Chrome plugin Facebook Power Editor – which offers more choices than the built-in tool on Facebook. I also recommend checking out the Facebook Ads ebook below (yes, it’s free).

By James Scherer @ Wishpond

More Free Facebook Advertising Resources

Want an easier tool to manage & optimize your Facebook Ads?

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