Social Media Ad Targeting You Need To Be Using Now

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  • 4/24/2018
    By now, most of us social media marketers have had some time to reflect on what our ad targeting futures may look like post Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has rolled back data sharing with apps and, most notably, announced it is removing partner categories as ad targeting options because of the newly discovered abuse of channel data. 
    Now, trust us, we could go on for days on this developing topic, but today we’re going to focus on the positive and take a look at some other impactful ad targeting options that are underused. Several years after these products were released, we’re still amazed by how few advertisers are using matched audiences in their advertising strategy. You may know these as tailored audiences, matched audiences, custom audiences or customer match. But what are these and what can you do with this targeting option? Let’s dig in. 
    Why match audiences? 
    For brands starting out with social media advertising, our first question isn’t about budget or creative, but about the size and quality of its email lists. Why? Because brands can upload that contact information and have the social media channel database matched against your list to create custom audiences. Then you can target those audiences to create a lower-cost, high-result campaign targeting these familiar folks. (You know the deal about ethical email address collection, right? It applies here.) And these familiar audiences don’t stop there. Marketers can leverage website visitors (remarketing) using tracking pixels and even company target lists on LinkedIn. 
    Since the users on these lists and collected by these pixels have already heard of you, a new fan acquisition campaign is an easy place to start for first time advertisers to grow a channel following prior to a larger campaign where conversions or sales will be important. This is a simple first step, but we can tell your wheels are already spinning thinking about what to do with more advanced targeting, event pixel tracking and segmented customer email lists. Trust us, the options are endless if you keep your data clean and you keep collecting up-to-date information.  
    What are the options?
    LinkedIn Advertising
    LinkedIn is the newest channel to release a matched audience option to self-serve advertisers. There are three options to explore. 
    1. Matched email lists – Upload your current marketing lists (segment, segment, segment!) and send ads their way when relevant to their interests. Hooking up your CRM is also an option. 
    2. Website retargeting – Use the Insight Tag (a tracking pixel) to gather customer insights and target users who have visited key pages during the awareness and consideration phases of their research and use an ad to move them to a purchase/decision.
    3. Account targeting – Match your sales targeting lists to active Company Pages on LinkedIn, then layer traditional targeting options to target key decision makers with your ads. 
    Between these three options, targeting a fine-tuned and interested audience isn’t far away. 
    Twitter Advertising
    Twitter has similar options to LinkedIn in that advertisers can target user lists, web or app users. These audiences are known as Tailored Audiences. On this channel, lists can mean email addresses or Twitter handles collected in the customer process. Just like LinkedIn, advertisers can segment web audiences by pages users have visited on the site and match those people to Twitter accounts to be later targeted by ads. 
    All you have to do is select the audiences in the ads manager and complete your targeting. Using a web list match in this way is also a great evergreen ad experience to use to constantly target a stream of your active web visitors with relevant follow up content. 

    Facebook Advertising
    Facebook (read as Instagram, too), was really the pioneer of social media customer list matching ads. Its suite of features not only includes the ability to match accounts to customer files, website activity and mobile app use, it also allows marketers to retarget users who have previously engaged on Facebook. That can mean engaging with content across any of Facebook’s family of apps and services such as your page, Instagram profile or ads. Here you can choose how many days to want to go back to collect that audience information, say 30 days, to build your custom engagement audience.
    To take it up one more level, Facebook’s Lookalike audience tool helps take marketers out of the arena of only targeting familiar audiences that data has been collected on, to targeting unfamiliar audiences that demonstrate the same behaviors, characteristics and interests as your custom audiences. So while you are targeting your email list and website visitors with one campaign, you could deploy a similar campaign to a whole new audience that is filtered and targeted based on your needs to spark awareness and eventually convert this wider audience. Again, there are a lot of good and bad strategies to deploy here, so we recommend starting small and easing into using a large, unfamiliar audience as a target audience.

    Now, be aware, these techniques and tools are changing fairly often right now. As we mentioned, Facebook has some housekeeping to do. So keep an eye on changes in custom audiences, like this recent update on restrictions between sharing custom audiences across ad accounts.

    Pinterest Advertising
    Pinterest's audience targeting isn't reinventing the wheel by any means, but as a platform, is it quite different than the others here. Pinterest's version of lookalikes audiences is called Actalike audiences and classifies a new list of potential targets based on similar engagement. This is tricky because there is also audience engagement target option within the platform. This feature is used to segment and target users who have interacted with a specific Pin. This option, along with customer targeting and website visitor targeting, makes this a dynamic channel for any brand with an ecommerce component. 

    YouTube Advertising
    YouTube has skills, too. YouTube’s version of match targeting is run through Google’s AdWords and is known as Customer Match. Just like its predecessors, you can upload a data file of contact information and create a campaign to target those users. This also lets advertisers target users across Google Search, YouTube and Gmail, but that’s info for another blog post.
    Things to consider
    Before we wrap up, there are a few simple things to remember about using these audiences.
    1. You will have to check a box stating that you own the data you’re uploading to the channel. So read the small print. You will need to have an active privacy policy on your website, too.
    2. Data is hashed prior to being shared with the channels to protect privacy so you’re not just giving a file full of contact information to Facebook, for example.
    3. The requirements for audience matching are different on each channel so check that out before you upload your list as there is a limit to how few people you can target. This keeps companies from being able to narrow down a list to 100 targets who they know by name and collecting ad data on their actions.
    4. It can take up to two days to match an entire list if it’s a big one. So plan ahead before your campaign is planned to begin.
    5. List match rates differ. We’ve seen a 20% match rate to some lists and we’ve seen 90%. It fully depends on if you’re getting B2B email addresses or B2C addresses and which channel you’re trying to match to. A CEO’s email address is most likely not used to log into Instagram. 
    Ready to learn more about navigating the current social media ad landscape? Talk to our team before you get started! 
    About the author::Madison Letizia is the Communications Department Manager at thunder::tech. She develops social media strategies that help clients reach their overall marketing goals. An easy way to win a place in her heart is with pasta, Milky Ways or any viral video including a goat.
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