Facebook’s Detailed Targeting—What You Need to Know

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About Facebook's Detailed Targeting | Search Engine Journal

Are you running Facebook ads for your business?

If so, Facebook is rolling out something that will help you narrow your targeting down to the exact customers you wish to reach. Sounds too far-fetched right?

Actually, it’s not. 

OR vs AND Targeting

For those using third-party tools that operate with the Facebook API, you’ve probably already witnessed the power of AND targeting.

What is AND targeting?

To answer that, let’s explain what OR targeting is first.

Up until now, Facebook has been operating with OR targeting. This means that if you attempt to get your message in front of two audiences, you would hit either or. Not the intersection of the two.

An example of this would be if you wanted to reach people interested in Soccer and Rugby in the same campaign. Facebook would show your ad to either the Soccer audience or the Rugby audience. But, you wanted people who were interested in both.

Well, now you can!

But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can narrow your audience as much as you would like. Need five layers of targeting? Go for it.

Additionally, you can exclude people from your targeting. This is great because you can remove specific people from the audience that you know are probably not interested in your ads.

Creating Your Ad Set

First of all, what does this new targeting look like?

About Facebook's Detailed Targeting | Search Engine Journal

As you’ll notice, some sections appear to be gone. These are Demographics (Relationship, Education, Work, Life Events, and more) and Behaviors.

Now these sections are inserted in the “Detailed Targeting” section. Which actually makes sense, because these were already partially using AND targeting when combined with Interests and other targeting factors.

I am going to walk you through a live example so you can get a feel for what it does and can start thinking of ideas on how to apply it to your business:

The Goal

Find the best prospects for a product that is perfect for women that like the Minions and guns.

Weird combo, I know. Now we’re fast forwarding with the assumption that you’ve already done your research in Audience Insights and you know who your targets are.

First, let’s choose women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 44 that speak English. Audience size = 58 million

Next, we’re going to add the interest “Minions (film)”. Audience size = 4.4 million

Now we want to hit “Narrow Audience” to include the interest “Despicable Me”, since this is where the Minions originally appeared. Here we’re hitting people who are interested in Minions AND Despicable Me. Audience size= 1.9 million

Let’s move on to adding in the gun lovers. Click on “Narrow Further” to display another box

Here, let’s add the interest “Gun Owners of America.” Audience size shrank to 99,000. So we can add another relevant interest to beef that up. I chose “Second Amendment To The United States Constitution”. Audience size is 210,000.

So now we have the following (added as a vertical list to show the funnel):

Despicable Me
Gun Owners of American OR Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

If your product was indeed perfect for this audience, you could probably stop here. But let’s bring down the audience a little more for the sake of the example. Do this by clicking “Narrow Further”.

Assuming you know your exact audience, maybe you notice that a lot of buyers are homeowners. So we’ll include them in our targeting. This brings the audience size to 98,000.

This is a pretty targeted audience in my opinion. However, if you know your ideal customer, then I’m sure you can think of how to create something similar for your targeting. For this example, here’s a screenshot of what it would look like.

About Facebook's Detailed Targeting | Search Engine Journal

What Does This Mean?

The example above was an extremely unrealistic thinking for the targeting. I went that route to show you that you could mix together things that weren’t related to find the audience you want to put your product in front of.

With unrelated niches intersected, you have a pretty defined audience. But what about the people who are highly interested in your niche?

If you were to take all of the biggest Facebook Interests (trade publications, influencers, brands, etc) in your niche and find the core audience interested in all of them, they would have a high probability of being interested in your product. Right? Well, that is of course if your product or service is actually relevant for that niche.

How Can You Get Access to Detailed Targeting?

At the time of writing this article, this feature is in Beta. According to Facebook, they’re slowly rolling it out to advertisers. If you have an account manager at Facebook, you should message them and ask if they can enable for you. I was able to get it activated within a day.

If you don’t have a manager, all is not lost. Visit the Facebook help center for advertisers.

For those of you in the United States, you might be able to use their Live Chat feature during standard business hours Monday through Friday. If you are not in the United States, or you don’t have the option to use Live Chat, then you can submit an email to the support team.

Here’s what I suggest to say (I had to do this for my personal ad accounts):


I would like to request that Detailed (Flex) targeting be enabled on my account please. I read in the article below that this feature is coming out and I believe that it will help increase my effectiveness on the platform.

>>>Insert Link To This Article From SEJ<<<
Thank you

The first time I asked in Live Chat, I was denied. A week later, I asked again and I was given access by a very friendly agent.


The new detailed targeting is going to make advertising on Facebook a lot easier. If you can get your message in front of the ideal audience, you have a better chance of converting. Which will make advertisers happier than putting the message in front of those that might only be slightly interested and it not converting. Hopefully this should decrease CPMs for the narrow audiences since those specifically defined, but only time will tell.

What do you think about this new feature? Love it or hate? Have you already had a chance to use it? What are your initial thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!



Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Kyler Patterson
All screenshots by Kyler Patterson. Taken November 2015.

Kyler Patterson

Kyler Patterson

Marketing Coordinator at HostGator
Kyler is the Marketing Coordinator for HostGator. While heavily involved in marketing and branding campaigns, Kyler has also launched thousands of Facebook ads, generating significant... Read Full Bio
Kyler Patterson
Kyler Patterson

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  • Some pretty amazing level of targeting with these new options. I liked your idea of looking at audiences which were interested in all of the primary interests to identify a core group of prospects who are most likely to convert.

    • Thanks Jonathan! Glad you liked it. Tried to incorporate more than one example so that it could spur some creative ideas from others

  • Hi Kyle,
    Excellent article and I specifically liked your example of the minions and the guns as it was funny. I would say the only thing to watch out for with this is getting too specific an audience, Obviously you want as many interested people as possible, but I see advertisers target too tightly and then the audience gets completely burned out on their ads.
    – Adam

    • Furniture Manila

      This is an amazing way to level up Facebook’s ad marketing. The targeted audience has been widened. I just wonder why this only came up now?

      • Technically this has been around for awhile. The API made it possible. I’ve been able to use third party tools to do this since sometime last year. I guess Facebook just decided that it was finally time that they offered it themselves. Which is great for smaller advertisers so they don’t need to pay for those third party providers.

    • Haha I’m glad you liked the example. Tried to go a little extreme with it to make a point

      And good point about audience fatigue. Although, sometimes you want a higher frequency because not everyone buys the first time they see the ad. There is a time that enough is enough though. Something to think on when you’re running ads.

      Thanks for reading!

  • E

    Can sets of these detailed AND specifications be OR’d, too?

    Continuing your example, could an ad’s targeting incorporate the woman you defined in detail in the article OR senior men who follow Disney?


    • Great question!

      Everything within the same box are OR. So if you look at my second example with women and in the third box I have two interests – those are OR.

      But, what you’re wanting is a little harder and you’d probably need a separate ad set. This is because age and gender can only include everything or a small section, not a breakup of sections. Meaning you can’t target senior men in this same ad set.

      Hope this clears up any confusion. Thanks!

  • Everything involving media is facebook orientated lately.

    • Not everything. Facebook is just one of the biggest platforms delivering great results because of the options they provide to advertisers. If Pinterest could allow me to target the audience from my second example the same way, I’d probably go there if I had that product. That’s simply because Pinterest is predominately female.

      Then you have Reddit, essentially a new frontier for marketers, but it’s a beast in itself. There are a lot of articles on how you can attempt to manipulate Reddit, but it’s extremely hard because you have different subreddits and each one has their own culture.

  • This will give good amount of targeted traffic. Your idea is really good.

  • And I think AND targeting will help to target better and no need to spend too much budget anymore.

  • The more similar targeting elements you add, the more accurate the targeted group gets, let me explain…

    If you were looking for high net worth individuals, you may just set an ‘income’ targeting option, but if you paired this with a ‘education level’ target, we can combine data sources to make the data likely more restricted but also more targeted at the same time. Great post.

  • Very neatly explained about OR vs AND Targeting, i had few doubts or OR Targeting and facebook ads, that was a great post indeed.

  • This is an amazing way to level up Facebook’s ad marketing. The targeted audience has widened. Thanks!

  • the best way of facebook marketing