Facebook Tests Optional Broad Interest Category and Family Status Targeting

Facebook has made several new self-serve ad targeting options available to a test group of users, including family status such as “Parents”, “Engaged (< 6 months)”, or “Newlywed (< 1 year)”, as well as “Has birthday in < 1 week”. Those in the test group have the option to target ads to broad categories of interests, such as musical genres, types of sports, activities such as photography, and professional categories such as real estate, in addition to traditional precise interest targeting.

If the tested targeting options were fully rolled out, they could give novice advertisers easier ways to target large relevant audiences, and make Facebook a more accurate advertising channel for brands and small businesses with customers in specific life phases.

Facebook tested broad interest targeting last month, but as a replacement for precise interest targeting. While useful for those less familiar with targeting ads based on the Likes of their audience, it provided less accuracy and transparency, so we recommended Facebook test or implement broad interest targeting as on option rather than a substitute.

Now, those in the test group can click a “Switch to Broad Category Targeting” link to reveal the options in Facebook’s self-serve ad tool. Advertisers can include the audiences of as many of the broad categories as they want, and can pair them with demographic targeting such as age or relationship status. However, they can’t combine broad and precise interest targeting. In a tool tip, Facebook recommends advertisers to:

“Use Broad Category targeting to reach groups of people who share similar interests and traits, such as activities related to “Food & Dining”. These groups draw from the authentic information people have included in their profiles, allowing you to easily reach your ideal audience.”

The complete list of Broad Category targeting options can be found at the bottom of this post.

Unlocking New Advertising Strategies

Advertisers can target sub-categories such as Music->Pop or Retail->Beauty Products rather than manually entering the Pages of several pop musicians such as Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, or several beauty brands such as Aveda, Sephora, and Maybelline. This will help their ads reach users with more obscure Likes that advertisers might not know about but that still indicate they are the relevant audience.

It will also help them combine audiences of local branches of brands from a single region, such as Maybelline Singapore, Maybelline Philippines, and Maybelline Indonesia. It could also open opportunities for niche brands or services that might not have competitors with large Pages to target against. For instance, a company offering wine tours could combine the existing demographic targeting option “Married”  with Broad Category targeting parameters such as Interests->Beer / Wine / Spirits or Activities->Travel.

While the interest categories enhance the existing precise interest targeting options, attribute targeting offers ways to access demographics that were previously difficult to pinpoint. The new Family Status options for targeting parents with children of different ages could help advertisers of products and services such as baby food and clothing, toys for pre-teens, or even college admissions offices.

The existing “Engaged” relationship status has long been a target for wedding photographers and florists, but the “Newlywed (<1 year)” option available here could be popular with insurance and financial services providers. Bars, nightclubs, travel agencies, and big box retailers could target users with a birthday that week, while the existing option to target users on their birthday was too narrow.

Using Broad Category targeting doesn’t appear to disproportionately increase Facebook’s suggested bid price per click. For instance, an ad targeted to the estimated 408,420 US users who Like classical musician Beethoven has a bid suggestion of $2.69, while targeting to the Broad Category of Music->Classical reaches an estimated 1.7 million users for $2.46. Targeting US users who are married reaches an estimated 38.8 million people for $2.20, while targeting the Broad Category “Newlywed (< 1 year)” reaches 5.6 million people for $1.74.

Facebook has found a way to increase targeting options, and make the process simpler for new advertisers without cluttering the self-serve ad tool’s design. If rolled out, Broad Category targeting could further differentiate Facebook advertising from search advertising by leveraging its wealth of demographic and interest user data. After all, keyword targeting doesn’t work for everyone.

For more advertising strategies, including how to use Facebook’s new Sponsored Stories ad unit, check out our Facebook Marketing Bible.

Full List of Broad Category Targeting Options


  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • DIY / Crafts
  • Food & Dining
  • Gaming (Console)
  • Gaming (Social / Online)
  • Gardening
  • Literature / Reading
  • Outdoor Fitness Activities
  • Photograph
  • Traveling


  • Has birthday in < 1 week

Business / Technology

  • Personal Finance
  • Real Estate
  • Science Programming
  • Science / Technology
  • Small Business Owners

Family Status

  • Baby Boomers
  • Engaged (< 6 months)
  • Newlywed (< 1 year)
  • Parents (All)
  • Parents (child: 0-3 yrs)
  • Parents (child: 4-12 yrs)
  • Parents (child: 13-15 yrs)
  • Parents (child: 16-19 yrs)


  • Autos
  • Beer / Wine/ Spirits
  • Charity / Causes
  • Education / Teaching
  • Entertainment (TV)
  • Environment
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Home & Garden
  • News
  • Pets (All)
  • Pets (Cats)
  • Pets (Dogs)
  • Pop Culture
  • Travel

Movie / Film

  • Action / Adventure
  • Animated
  • Classic
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Horror
  • Independent
  • Movie / Film (All)
  • Musical
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy
  • Sports
  • Suspense / Thriller


  • Alternative
  • Children’s Music
  • Christian & Gospel
  • Classic Rock
  • Classical
  • Comedy
  • Country
  • Dance / Electronic
  • Hip Hop / Rap
  • Jazz / Blues
  • Metal
  • Music (All)
  • Pop
  • R&B / Soul
  • Reggae
  • Rock

Retail / Shopping

  • Beauty Products
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Fashion
  • Luxury Goods


  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Extreme Sports
  • Fantasy Sports
  • Football (American)
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Motor Sports / NASCAR
  • Soccer
  • Sports (All)
  • Tennis