Facebook Launches Ad Targeting by Topic

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By Josh Constine Comment

Facebook recently added the ability to target advertisements by Topic, as detailed in its new Interests Targeting guide (.PDF). Rather than targeting users that Like a specific Page, advertisers can simultaneously target all users who Like any variation of a word or phrase. For example, rather than just targeting fans of Lady Gaga, by selecting the #Lady Gaga Topic, an ad will also be shown to fans of any unofficial Pages for the musician, such as “I ♥ Lady Gaga”.

The new targeting option, available in both the self-serve ads tool and the Ads API, will help advertisers expand the reach of their ads to more relevant users. It will be especially handy for less experienced advertisers who might not know to explicitly target keywords related an interest of their customers.

Topic targeting joins Facebook’s two other interest targeting options: the original, default Precise Interest targeting for advertising to fans of a specific Page; and the relatively new Broad Category targeting for advertising to wide ranges of users with similar profile characteristics such as newlyweds, or Likes of any Page related to large category such as football.

Advertisers employing Precise Interest Targeting can miss out on showing their ads to relevant people because Facebook users sometimes Like related or unofficial versions of Pages rather than the official version owned by the company or celebrity the Pages represent. These users might be willing to click through ads and make purchases, so missing them through Precise Interest targeting hurts ad performance.

With the new Topic targeting option, when advertisers type in a keyword to target in the Precise Interest targeting section of the self-serve ad tool, the typeahead will now bring up Topics denoted with a hash (#) tag in addition to specific Pages. Advertisers can select these #topics to include anyone who Likes official, related, or unofficial Pages associated with that Topic.

Topics also now appear as targeting suggestions. This means if an advertisers targets Lady Gaga as a Precise Interest, Facebook will show suggestions to also target the #Lady Gaga topic to reach additional users. These suggestions might also include additional pop music singer Precise Interests such as Katy Perry or Beyoncé, and Topics such as #Beyoncé Knowles.

Topic Targeting Strategies

Advertisers using keyword targeting should consider simultaneously running Precise Interest targeted ads and Topic targeted ads as separate campaigns, as this will allow them to determine how effective Topic targeting is. Targeting multiple topics within the same campaign may make it difficult to refine targeting to the best responding demographics, so advertisers should consider running ads for different Topics in different campaigns.

Those targeting a variety of specific keywords should think about which are the most relevant to their customers and try also targeting the corresponding Topics. Targeting too many Topics may dilute ad spend. There may be a higher probability that fans of unofficial Pages encompassed by Topic targeting are less savvy Facebook users than those that are fans of official Pages. Therefore, advertisers pitching more sophisticated products and services may receive more unqualified clicks by targeting Topics.

Less experienced advertisers, those with smaller budgets, and those with less time time to spend managing ads have a lot to gain from Topic targeting, as reduces the need to identify a wide range of individual but related keywords. Advanced advertisers using the Ads API tools and services should consider adding Topic targeting into their A/B tests to determine when Topic targeting can improve ad performance for their specific business.

With Topic targeting and the recently launched zip code targeting, Facebook is significantly increasing the ways advertisers can reach potential customers on Facebook. By providing an easier experience for novice advertisers and opening new strategies for veterans, Facebook may be able to ride these new feature launches into increased advertising revenue.

More Facebook advertising strategies, including how to run integrated marketing campaigns that combine ads and Sponsored Stories with Pages and apps, can be found in the Facebook Marketing Bible.

[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip]