Facebook Custom Audiences: Audience Overlap

Thanks to Facebook advertising and it’s powerful audience insights, we already know that your public is everything. They are the key to grow a list from 100 buyers to 100,000 new prospects. Facebook’s Audience Overlap feature has been quietly extended to the powerful Facebook Custom Audiences option.

Before we keep going, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and the new GDPR regulations hit Facebook right in the face. So, times are changing. And with them, some of the Facebook Custom Audiences features too.

But Audience Overlap is still on the go, and you should use it to avoid wasting money by targeting the same people over and over.


Playing the Facebook Custom Audiences game

Let’s say you’re running a property campaign using two separate custom audiences –property investors and owner occupiers. What happens if you turn these two lookalike audiences into two separate campaigns?

You may be competing for the same people, which equates to a lot of wasted Ad spend and a decreased ROI.

Facebook Custom Audience Overlap feature will allow you to expand your potential audience while refining your targeting. This way, you’ll reach niche audiences and drive down your cost per lead.

If you’re running Facebook advertising, you’ve probably encountered the frustration of your Ad not converting as well as it should. It’s time to consider Audience Overlap.


What is Audience Overlap and why does it matter?

It basically targets your lookalike audiences. Meaning you’re targeting multiple ad sets to different audiences that contain some of the same people.

Audience Overlap for custom audiences is a tool that has the potential of being quite powerful for Facebook marketers. It allows marketers to compare two audiences, and find the percentage of likeness between them, giving you the ability to eliminate overlap completely.

When you run advertising to audiences with a lot of overlaps, you’re basically competing against yourself, because the same person is being targeted by multiple ads in different ad sets. Showing the same ad multiple times to the same people, not only skews your results, but it makes you look spammy to your audience.


Get the hang of your Audience Insights

Access Audience Overlap from either Power Editor or Ads Manager.

  1. Go to ‘Tools’ in the menu and click on ‘audiences’.
  2. Select multiple (2-5) from your list of audiences and click ‘Show Audiences Overlap’ in the ‘actions’ drop down.facebook custom audiences
  3. The first audience selected will be shown first, followed by the comparison audiences in a venn diagram. You can change this primary audience with the top right drop down or remove an audience by unchecking the box.
  4. You can compare different audiences – custom audiences with similar audiences, or similar audiences with saved audiences. A really cool idea is to create a saved audience that includes a combination of interests and behaviours and custom audiences.


How to apply the Audience Overlap feature?

To avoid or reduce showing individuals too many ads, consider these strategies:

  • Consolidate Audiences – If ad sets are targeting similar audiences, you could avoid a negative effect on campaign performance by consolidating them into few but larger segments with larger budgets.
  • Refine Targeting – We love reaching potential customers through lookalike audiences, but be sure to take advantage of location, age, gender, interest and behavioural targeting to ensure that your advertising efforts are reaching specific and distinct audiences.
  • Timing – Run your ad sets at different times to avoid showing ads to similar people.
  • Super Saiyan Audience – Find the greatest audience among a bunch of audiences and isolate it.
  • Rate Your Audience – Unsure whether to target a specific lookalike audience? Compare it against a ‘saved audience’ of relevant interests to find the overlap.
  • Reporting – Find the value of your custom audience or lookalike audience by comparing it to your database of leads.
  • Exclude The Overlap – The most powerful use I’ve found for Audience Overlap is to create a custom audience from the ‘Overlap’. You can exclude this ‘Overlap’ from your targeting so you don’t target the same users in two separate campaigns.
  • Who are your customers? – Compare your website visitors to your leads to determine how many of them have visited your website lately.


Avoiding Lookalike Audiences

The main limitation of Audience Overlap is that an audience must be at least 1000 to be eligible for comparison. This is for privacy as you can easily figure out information about people with such a small list.

Expect overlap—there are only so many Facebook users so there is bound to be some degree of overlap. The key is to keep this percentage down. In your reporting, find the so-called ‘sweet spot’ at which point your cost-per-lead rises based on the degree of overlap

I would recommend keeping overlap under 30%. If your Overlap reaches up to 50%, your two 1% similar audiences are actually just one list. Thus, if you’re segmenting your audiences by two campaigns, you’re wasting a lot of money.


Now it’s your turn to get creative! How might you use this new tool? Let me know in the comments!


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