Facebook has a lot of data on its users, but only a small portion of that data can be used for ad targeting purposes. This can be frustrating because it forces advertisers to choose broader target audiences than they might prefer. Facebook appears to be taking some steps to fix this problem by updating targeting settings for all advertisers.

What’s Changing?

When an advertiser goes through the process of creating an ad, they’re presented with a list of audience targeting options that include Location, Demographics (e.g. relationship status, education level), and Interests. Facebook is making some major changes to those existing options and adding some new ones to offer more precise targeting.

For location targeting, you can currently choose countries, cities, states, provinces, and ZIP codes. With the new options, you’ll be able to more easily build combinations of geographies (Texas and Las Vegas) and actively exclude geographies where you don’t want your ads to be seen. This could be quite useful in the event that you want to run a statewide campaign that also has customized individual campaigns for major cities. Those cities could be excluded from the statewide campaign to avoid any overlap.

Demographic Options
Deeper workforce targeting and life event targeting are among the new additions.

For demographic targeting, Facebook is adding some categories and providing depth to others. In the past you could only target specific companies. Now you can target down to individual job titles. This could come in handy for professional event marketing, as it would provide the means to advertise specifically to users who work in a particular field. You can also more precisely target people who have recently changed their relationship status. Florists, photographers, bakeries, travel agents, and wedding planners may find it quite useful to be able to target future brides based on when they got engaged.

Facebook has long been vague about how “Interests” actually work. Their language around changes to this audience targeting option seems to indicate that they’re trying to streamline the process. They’ll still be using user interactions with the site to determine their interests, but advertisers may no longer have to come up with long lists of keywords and categories to target those interests.

On the new additions front, Facebook is offering a new option titled “Behaviors”. Details on this are light, but it sounds like this new option will include the ability to target based on device and specific purchase behavior. This has some overlap with the current set of Broad Categories, so that may also be part of the streamlining process for this type of targeting.

When all of these new options become available in the interface, I’ll run follow-up post to go into them in more detail. For now, rest assured that you’ll have some ad reviews to conduct as Facebook expands your options.