Building Facebook Ad Custom Audiences: A Quick Guide

Rizza Devega
By Rizza Devega

Alongside Google, Facebook is quickly dominating the digital advertising world as advertisements are becoming completely integrated in our online social interactions. With 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook has easily become an advertising pillar.

But as large as Facebook’s user base is, an ad can only be effective if you are targeting the right person. The audience who sees your ad is just as important as the ad composition itself. Custom audiences takes audience targeting to the next level by narrowing down specific users in order to maximize conversion rates.

What Are Custom Audiences?

Custom audiences are lists of users that already have a relationship with you, and these can include people that have purchased something, visited your website or engaged with your content. Retargeting traffic like this means they’re more likely to click on your ad and drive a conversion.

Related: 3 Things to Do Before You Start Running Your First Facebook Ad Campaign  

There are 4 types of custom audiences you can create:

  • Customer File
  • Website Traffic
  • App Activity
  • Engagement

Creating An Audience Based On Customer Lists

This type of audience consists of your existing customers.  They are lists of emails, phone numbers or user IDs that once uploaded, will match with the Facebook user. While you usually have to upload this list manually, importing from MailChimp is also an option.

A new feature lets you include customer lifetime value (LTV) in your custom audience, allowing Facebook to put weight to your customers. This means that when you create a lookalike from this audience, the system will use LTV to find people similar to your most valuable customers. Ultimately, the goal here is to create a cold audience that will be more likely to convert.

Creating An Audience Based On Past Website Traffic

In order to create a custom audience from the users who have visited your site in the past, there must be a Facebook Pixel tracking code inserted into your website. Placing this piece of code on each page of your website will allow you to remarket to the users who have visited these pages. This code can even be customized to track actions: a visit to your page, add to cart, and even users who have visited certain web pages but not others.

Related: How to Set Up the Facebook Pixel & Track Conversions With Goal URLs

You can customize this even further by refining the audience based on Frequency and Device.

Refining by Frequency means targeting users who have visited a page on your website or performed an action a certain number of times. This is a great way to target users who have shown interest, but have not converted.

Refining by Device means targeting users who have used a specific platform to access your website. This includes iOS, Android and desktop.

Creating An Audience Based On App Activity

You can also create a custom audience of people who have opened your app, or took specific actions on your app such as “add to cart” or even achieving a level in a game.

Creating An Audience Based On Users Who Engaged With Your Content

Engagement custom audiences are made up of users who have engaged with your content on Facebook.

Reminder: Engagement audiences differ from website traffic audiences in that engagement audiences refer to actions taken on Facebook itself and website traffic refers to actions taken on your website tracked by a pixel.

Related: Engagement Retargeting – Facebook’s Extra ‘Push’ Down The Funnel

  • Video – Creating custom audiences of everyone who viewed your video, or even a percentage of the video!
  • Lead form – Creating custom audiences of people who opened your Lead ad but didn’t convert.
  • Fullscreen Experience – Creating custom audiences of people who have opened or clicked on any links in your Canvas ad.
  • Facebook Page – Create an audience of people who have interacted with your Facebook page.
  • Instagram Business Profile – Create an audience of people who have engaged with your Instagram business profile.
  • Event – Create an audience where you retarget people who have interacted with events. With this you can either include or exclude people who have responded with Interested or Going to any one specific event.

Wrapping Up

Creating custom audiences is a great tactic to ensure that your ads are optimized to reach the right people. Utilizing this powerful tool to target social users will make a huge impact on generating conversions. Find out which custom audiences are right for your business and in no time you’ll be pushing out positive results!


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Rizza Devega is a Paid Social Project Manager at Power Digital. Born and raised in San Diego, she is passionate about all things digital media and loves helping brands and companies tell their story through various social media platforms.