How to Boost Facebook Ad Relevance with Lookalike Custom Audiences

Facebook advertising works because the social platform provides lots of different 'levers' to help advertisers target the right prospects.


Facebook advertising works because the social platform provides lots of different ‘levers’ to help advertisers target the right prospects. By pulling all these levers, advertisers can ensure their ads reach only individuals most likely to be interested in their products.

Of course, Facebook makes precision targeting possible by analyzing a deluge of data about the preferences of its 1.39 billion users, and most marketers are familiar with Facebook’s basic targeting capabilities using interest and demographic data. But what if you could target people who have characteristics that are similar to the people who visit your website, or even better, the people who are likely to make a purchase or fill out a form? Say hello to lookalike audience targeting, a marketer’s new best friend on Facebook.

Facebook makes it pretty easy to build lookalike audiences based on your first-party website and conversion data, but there are some advanced tactics marketers can use to turbocharge lookalike targeting on Facebook. Here are five tactics to start reaching more “lookalike” targets on the world’s largest social platform.

Nail the setup

Start by going into Facebook’s Ad Manager. Navigate over to the left-side navigation and click on Audiences. If you are completely new at this, Facebook will guide you step-by step. Now you are ready to install two pixels necessary for lookalike targeting. First, place place a custom audience pixel on all pages of your website. You can go here for more information on where to find the code. Second, you will need to place conversion tracking pixels where your conversion events are captured. Go to the left-side navigation and click on Conversion Tracking, then navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on the green button to Create Pixel.

Start creating Custom Audiences

If you want to create lookalike audiences based on your website visitors, you will first need to create custom audiences for all, or at least specific sections, of your website. To begin, make sure you’re in Audiences and then navigate your mouse to the upper-righthand corner and click on the green button to Create Audience > Custom Audience. In the screenshot below, you will see the different option types. I suggest using “People visiting specific web pages but not others” to create custom audiences optimized for conversion.


You can further refine this conversion-centric custom audience by clicking “All visitors excluding career visitors”, which excludes site visitors who are looking for a job, but aren’t necessarily interested in your products.


Finally, you can further optimize this custom audience for conversion by adding parameters such as Shopping Cart Confirmation, Registration Completion, Download Confirmation etc. This will create a custom audience bucket of people who have converted on your website.

When you are done creating this high-value custom audience, you can create a lookalike audience to find other people who have similar characteristics.

Drill down on more Lookalike Audiences

Once you’ve setup your pixels and completed your custom audience segments, you can start building lookalike audiences of targets who will likely be interested in your product with a high probability to convert. To do this, navigate your mouse over to the upper-righthand corner and click on the green button again to Create Audience > Lookalike Audience. In Source, populate it with one of the segments you created and choose the level of similarity to your source. Consider selecting the lowest level due to it’s low level of risk and close similarity to your custom audience. When complete, continue to build out a lookalike for each custom audience or conversion tracking pixel.

Remember, if you decide to create both website conversion and conversion tracking pixel lookalike audiences, the two may overlap. Using the Facebook conversion pixel as a source targets the lookalikes of people who converted through your Facebook ads. Targeting lookalikes of everyone who converts on your website could ‘catch’ some of these same targets, who may have arrived at your site by clicking on a Facebook Ad. To prevent that overlap, you could exclude those who came from Facebook Ads at the custom audience level, if your URL parameters are consistent, to filter it out.


Keep in mind it may take 6 to 24 hours for your Lookalike Audiences to be created on Facebook. After that, the audiences will refresh every 3-7 days as long as you’re still actively targeting ads to that audience.

brendatonBrenda Ton is a Digital Marketing Manager for Marin Software (NYSE:MRIN), provider of a leading cross-channel performance advertising cloud. 

Top image courtesy of rvlsoft /