Expand Your Audience: How to Take Social Ad Targeting Beyond the Obvious

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Paid social specialists often recommend clients focus campaigns on a carefully selected audience. This makes a lot of sense, but going too narrow means brands risk ignoring a large portion of users who could very well be interested in their products. Social advertisers are able to subtly tailor campaigns using increasingly extensive targeting, however it’s generally wise to expand your total audience to include as many different user groups as possible.

We recently ran a campaign for a global wellness brand with an unexpected result: Its top-performing audience segment wasn’t health enthusiasts, but rather people interested in DIY. That’s why it’s a good idea to always look beyond the obvious with your campaign targets.

Identifying Current and Future Customers

When you look beyond the obvious targets, you may, for example, reach users who are looking to purchase on behalf of others or who are planning for a future phase in life. Major gift-giving events like Christmas are prime examples of a time when you need to switch your focus from the usual suspects to those who are likely to buy their gifts.

Certain interests (like home decor) and life events (like getting married) tend to follow a cycle. Users searching for living room inspiration might also be upgrading other parts of their homes. Those interested in wedding-related content may move on to family planning next. If we manage to identify who a customer is right now, we can also anticipate where he or she is headed next. With this in mind, advertisers can be proactive in drawing up approximate timelines for when users will have a need for their brands. On Pinterest – a planning platform with longer conversion cycles than most other channels – your audience might not consist of those who currently need your product, but of users who aspire to become customers in the future.

Building New, Broader Audiences

There are times when building out audiences requires brands to really think outside the box. We recently ran a Facebook campaign for a major beverage brand and created a “miscellaneous” targeting segment by entering top-performing interest-based audiences into the platform’s Audience Insights tool. This miscellaneous audience went on to deliver the highest ABV (average basket value) of all segments, as well as the second-best ROI – 54% above campaign average.

Platform tools like Facebook’s Audience Insights are useful for finding users who might not be on your immediate radar, by displaying crossovers between users’ existing interests, other companies they like, and your brand. They can also help find people who have little connection to your company, but – based on their overall user behavior – might still be interested in your products.

Targeted Versus Scaled

A recent study found that 42% of users get annoyed when their digital experience isn’t tailored to their interests and needs. One of the many benefits of social advertising is the ability to carefully target ads and deliver personalized messaging and creative to individual consumers. When expanding your audience beyond its immediate core, you should also consider how to deliver relevant experiences to a large number of users with diverse interests and needs.

By integrating ads with external feeds and data sources, advertisers can dynamically and programmatically personalize creative and messaging on the fly, customizing creative by audience location or other real-world conditions. We worked with a global automotive brand last year, for example, and automatically personalized their ads based on geographics, propensity to lease vs. purchase, and weather. As a result, we saw a 7% lift in conversion rate and a 21% increase in leads generated per day.

Paid social differs from most traditional marketing methods in that it offers an abundant amount of data about user preferences and behaviors. This enables advertisers to create experiences that are highly relevant and effective, and we’re able to do so even when audiences go beyond the obvious.