Achieving Hyper-Relevance Through Geographic Microtargeting Of Facebook Ads

Can I target people on Facebook in one specific building? Can I show Facebook ads to people at a particular event? Yes! An expert explains:

Article Difficulty Level: Advanced

Ever wanted to run Facebook ads to people in one building, at a convention, or other event? Have you been told that’s impossible by so-called Facebook “experts” or “consultants?” It’s not. I do it all the time for my own businesses and my clients. It is easy and effective once you get the hang of it. Combine it with killer content and you’ll be on your way to success in no time.

Please note: The following article assumes an intermediate-level understanding of the Facebook Ads Manager. I will not be taking the time to explain beginner-level aspects step by step. However, even beginners will benefit from the strategies and tactics discussed below. 

Geographically microtargeted Facebook ads. Sounds like a complicated thing, doesn’t it? It sounds like it costs a lot. It sounds like you need some special third-party program that cost millions of dollars to develop and charges a high monthly premium. If you Google how to do this, you won’t find anything. 95% of the so-called Facebook “experts” charging hundreds of dollars an hour will tell you that it’s impossible. They are wrong. For me and the clients I assist and train, targeting very specific ads to people inside of single buildings or at a local event is a routine thing.

These ads are extremely effective. It’s not just the targeting that makes the difference. Your targeting allows you to run very specific messaging that you normally couldn’t get away with.

Imagine this: You have a booth at a large, important convention. You’ve paid hundreds of dollars to be there and are desperate to make the most out of your time. You take a quick 30-second video of you standing in front of your booth. “Hey guys! It’s awesome to be here at the convention with y’all. If you’re in the main event room, just turn right when leaving out the main door and I’m the fourth booth on the left. I’ve got some goodies to give away to anyone that mentions this video, so come on by!” Now what do you do with it? Armed with Geographic Microtargeting (“GMT”), you can then boost that video to ONLY people who are physically inside the convention center. Not just in their news feed, either. You can insert your video into the websites they are browsing (Audience Network), slide into their Messenger app, and pop into their Instagram. Imagine how effective that would be.

I’ve done this. I have a vending franchise that works with K-5 schools. I was at a convention with approximately 3,000 elementary school educators once. I did exactly what I described above, except it was a photo instead of a video. I had school principals walking up to me for a week during that convention saying “I’m not sure how you got onto my phone, but I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.” We’re talking about a product where my customer LTV exceeds $1,000, so that kind of interaction is invaluable. For approximately $150, I generated about a dozen leads during that convention that I knew for a fact were because of my Facebook ads. I had many more that I suspected were due in part to the ads I ran. Once I pulled that off, I began integrating the strategy into my training sessions with other business owners. I love seeing their eyes light up when they realize the potential!

The potential is incredible. People respond best to content that is hyper-relevant – content that forces them to stop scrolling. “We make great sandwiches!” Doesn’t make you stop. “Stuck at Helen Keller Hospital for lunch? We’ll deliver a delicious sandwich straight to your room.” Now, THAT makes someone stop. It makes you think, and it makes you react. It makes you wonder – how did they know?! If you don’t know how Geographic Microtargeting works, you are left with the assumption that this restaurant is running ads across your entire area that conveniently seem relevant to you and pretty much ONLY you. I guarantee you – whether you order lunch from that restaurant from that ad or not, you’ll remember them next time you’re in the area.

Screenshot from 2018-08-25 20-04-26

 

 

HOW DO YOU ACCOMPLISH THIS?

Now, I mentioned at the beginning of the article that I’m going to assume that you have an intermediate-level understanding of the Facebook Ads manager. Therefore, I am not going to waste time explaining how to create an ad. There are thousands of free tutorials out there for that. I’m here to talk about something unique. All I’m going to address is how to create an audience that is Geographically Microtargeted. I’ll also note that this is only accurate to an extent. By my rough measurement through trial and error, I estimate the accuracy to be somewhere from 100 feet to about 1/10th of a mile. So, you can’t target one house in the middle of a crowded neighborhood, or you’ll get the surrounding houses and roads as well. But it works great for a building the size of one city block or larger – like any convention center. The main goal is to get your radius FAR below the generally accepted minimum of 1 mile.

The concept is simple. We’re going to take some basic elements that most Facebook Ad managers know exist, and use them in an unexpected manner to deliver unprecedented results.

Let’s start by creating a Saved Audience. Go to your Audiences by clicking the menu in the top left hand corner of your Ads Manager. Click “Create Audiences” and “Saved Audience.” Now, ignore everything else and go straight to the geographic section.

You have a couple different options to start. If you know the address of where you are targeting, you can enter that as your target. However, if you are dealing with an extremely large facility, your pin may not be in the center of your target, which is not ideal. In that case, you can manually drop a pin on the map, which is what I generally do. Find your building, and drop a pin on the center. Set your radius to the minimum: 1 mile.

Now, we’re going to do something a bit different. Roughly guess the distance between your pin and the exterior wall of the building you are targeting, and drop another pin outside your radius by that exact amount. You can use a ruler if you aren’t good at eyeballing this type of stuff, but you can also edit it later so it’s not that big of a deal if you miss. Drop a number of these pins (at least 4) around your main pin, each one just as far outside your radius as your middle pin is from the outside of your target building. When you finish, you should have one pin with a 1-mile radius surrounded by a bunch of other pins with 1-mile radii around that pin, none of which should overlap the original pin.

Next, hover over one of your locations in the location list. You’ll see a little dropdown arrow appear. Click that, and select “Exclude location.” You can also accomplish this by clicking the pin on the map. Do this for all pins except your original one.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Screenshot from 2018-08-25 20-20-28

 

WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?

Exclusion zones are a not-as-well-known feature of Facebook’s geographic targeting. It’s not used very often. For most people, it’s really only useful when you’re targeting a radius around a city but want to exclude other states or cities that your radius might overlap, due to the phrasing in your copy. What we are doing is creating a complex Venn Diagram consisting of exclusion and inclusion zones that ultimately result in only one single building being targeted. At first, this takes some time to set up. It takes a while to get used to, and it took me quite a while to get to the point where I was confident enough in the accuracy to get the distance around the building just right. But it works.

Is this accurate? I’ve had some people question whether or not this actually works. Trust me, it does. Facebook tracks your location using your cell signal, your GPS, and your Wi-fi. They have your location pinned down to within 30 feet. The potential inaccuracy up to 1/10th of a mile comes primarily from people that are moving – like in a car. It just takes a minute or so for Facebook to update your location, so you may see ads a little ways away from the facility if you just left it or drove by it. It may catch some people driving by as they briefly enter the radius, but it’s still pretty accurate. I explained this tactic to a group of clients once, and I saw their minds explode as they processed what I was saying. The very next day, one of those clients sent me an excited text with a screenshot of an ad very similar to the one I posted above. They were in the parking lot next to a building I was targeting and saw my ad mentioning the building. Since they knew I worked with that business and since I had just explained it to them the night before, they knew exactly what was happening for the first time, and they were absolutely thrilled to see it in action.

It’s not complicated. We are taking some very simple features of Facebook Ads and combining them in unusual ways, that’s it. I honestly didn’t think too much of it at first, I thought everyone knew how to do it. But as I began mentioning it to my clients and other people running Facebook Ads, I realized how few people know how to do it.

This has the ability to transform your business. Not just on the reach of these ads themselves, but through the use of Lookalike Audiences (LLAs). You can use GMT strategies to build extremely precise and well-filtered Custom Audiences (CA) to base your LLAs off of. I recently showed a boutique jewelry company owner how to use GMT to identify high-relevance potential customers at a convention and then use an LLA to dynamically expand that group to begin advertising to similar high-relevance potential customers nationwide. You should have seen the expression on her face – she knew the potential of what I was talking about. Interest targeting is better than nothing, but it’s nowhere near as effective as an LLA based on a high-relevance CA. You can target people who are interested in the topic Jewelry all day long, but nothing beats taking a group of well-established wholesale jewelry purchasers and creating an audience of everyone like them in the world – and ONLY people like them.

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What Is A Lookalike Audience (LLA)?

What is a Facebook Ads Lookalike Audience? How is this targeting option transforming the digital advertising landscape? How can you use it for your business? An expert explains. 

Article Difficulty Level: Intermediate

I do a lot of one-on-one Facebook Ad training sessions with business owners, and one of my favorite things to do is go over the ads that they have already run before they came to me. I have yet to see a single business owner using Lookalike Audiences  (also known as an “LLA”) when I first review their performance to date. I love seeing the gears turn and their eyes slowly widen as I explain what a Lookalike Audience is and what they can do with it.

Lookalike Audiences are a very complicated animal, but they can be explained fairly easily. Basically, you are taking a core group of people that you’ve generated through an online activity, and telling Facebook to find a certain percentage (between 1 and 10%) of all people in a specific country that are MOST similar to that core audience. Then, you can narrow that down further with other forms of targeting, such as geographic.

FOR EXAMPLE: You have a booth at a large convention. You use Geographic Microtargeting to target ONLY the people inside the convention with a short live video of you in front of your booth inviting them to come check you out. 200 people watch that video. Using Lookalike Audiences, you then begin to run ads to the 50,000 people in your state that are MOST similar to those 200 people. The best part? All of this happens automatically. No more guessing what your ideal demographic is.

How does this work? 

Facebook has an average of 10,000 data points on every single one of its users – including you. They don’t just have what you give them. They buy large amounts of data from third party groups – like credit card companies. They attach your info with those companies to your info on Facebook to build a comprehensive profile on you. Lookalike Audiences takes the common denominators in your core group, and finds everyone else in the country with those common denominators.

You can easily create Lookalike Audiences. Simply go to your Ads Manager on Facebook on your desktop by clicking the drop down menu on the top right of your page and selecting “Manage Ads”. If you’ve never run ads before, you’ll need to select “Create Ads” instead and go through some basic setup steps before being able to run ads. In order to keep this post as relevant as possible, I will be assuming that everyone reading this article has a basic understanding of how the Ads Manager works. In the top left corner of your Ads Manager, click the drop down menu and select Audiences. You’ll need to create a Custom Audience first – this is your core audience. Select “Create Audience” and “Custom Audience.” You should see this pop-up:

Screenshot from 2018-08-25 18-23-50

You have several options for creating a Custom Audience. You can use a customer file, website traffic using Pixel data, app activity, offline activity, and engagement. Most people will only ever use the customer file, website traffic, and engagement options. Offline activity is still being rolled out as of the publishing of this article, and app activity is only useful for developers. I’ll refrain from going through a detailed step-by-step instruction at this point, although I’ll try to come back and do that later when I have more time.

Once you’ve created your Custom Audience, go back to your Audiences section, select “Create Audiences” again, but this time select “Lookalike Audience.” In this screen, you’ll select the Custom Audience that you just created as the source, and pick your geographic area and how wide you want the audience to be. Always start off with a small number and exhaust that audience before expanding. You can always come back and create a larger audience later, so I recommend starting with 1% or 2% for your initial test run. However, the exception to this rule is this: if you plan to run your ads to a very small geographic area, you should raise this number higher. Otherwise, you may not have enough people in your target audience to have any significant impact

 

Screenshot from 2018-08-25 18-29-34

Don’t worry about the lack of detailed geographic targeting. You can still set that at the Ad Set level. Keep in mind though, that when you narrow your audience down geographically in the Ad Set level, or by creating a Saved Audience, this will select the people that are in your Lookalike Audience that are also in that geographic area. It will NOT select the 1% (or 2% or whatever you set it at) of people in that geographic area that share common denominators with your Custom Audience. I say this so that you won’t be confused when the numbers of people selected in that area are far larger or smaller than the percentage that you set in your Lookalike Audience relative to the number of people total in that geographic area.

FOR EXAMPLE: Let’s say that you have a well-established plumbing business with 2,000 customer e-mail addresses in your database. Now, assuming that all 2,000 of those have opted-in to receiving communications from you, you can upload that list to Facebook and create a lookalike audience off of them. Since you’re a local company, you set the LLA at 10%. You drop a pin on your business location and say you want to advertise to a 50-mile radius. Now, instead of 1,000,000 people, you are targeting the, say, 120,000 people who are most like your existing customers – without having to do any research into who those customers actually are. You can now run ads to those people without wasting any money on the rest of the population – only spending your resources where you know they’ll be the most effective.

Lookalike Audiences are powerful. They allow you to dynamically expand your current customer, engagement, or visitor base into a larger group of potential customers. This ensures that your digital advertising budget will be spent efficiently and that your engagement rates will be high – providing, of course, that your messaging is on point.

Questions? Feedback? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you. 

A Boring Introduction.

Hi, my name is Trey.

I’m a recovering political junkie with a passion for technology. I used to run campaigns for a living – I won over 40 non-incumbent campaigns in a 6-year period. Turns out, politics sucks. The clients suck, the drama sucks, the hours suck – it just sucks. I found myself spending 90% of my billable hours dealing with drama that affected nobody and accomplished nothing. After nearly dying from stress-related health problems in late 2016, I made some radical life changes and left that world forever. I quit politics and took an 8-5 job paying a fraction of what I was making. I’ve never regretted it for an instance.

Now, I’m a nerd. I’ve been doing Facebook Ads since before Pages even existed, and it’s kind of what I’ve become known for. I have been consulting on Facebook Ads and social media strategies with businesses, organizations, and politicians for the past eight years. I have an intimate knowledge of the underlying concepts behind the Facebook algorithm that has come from a decade of working alongside it as it has grown into the monster it is today. I have developed my own strategies that take advantage of the Facebook algorithm in unique ways to save money and increase Ad conversions.

Beyond Facebook, I’m also a nerd in almost every other aspect of my life. I currently work remotely in Alabama as the lead social media and SEO specialist for a marketing firm near Philadelphia – Addison Technologies. I’m about to go back to college to pursue a degree in Cybersecurity.

I am a lifelong student, entrepreneur, and workaholic. Every morning, I wake up at 5am and read or write on technical topics for an hour and a half. Currently, I’m reading a book on reverse engineering and writing this blog. I listen to financial and tech podcasts on my commute, study SEO and social media platform developments at work, listen to some more podcasts on the way home, and take online courses on programming and cybersecurity in the evening. Around all that, I run three companies – I run the finances and HR at my wife’s bakery/restaurant, I do remote training and consulting sessions on Facebook Ads with businesses, and I own a vending franchise. I hate politics with a passion, aside from a very small number of low-drama clients that I’ve worked with in the past that I’ll still occasionally do some stuff for. In case that wasn’t enough, I also operate as the Public Relations Manager for my local municipality a couple hours a week (it’s a very small town).

The purpose of this blog is simple: I like to write. I deleted my personal Facebook a few weeks ago because I could not escape the political world on there. Even after deleting over 1,200 friends, I was constantly inundated with messages and posts from my old life. My health could not bear the constant negativity associated with that crowd. Plus, I recently married the most amazing woman I’ve ever met – and she deserves the attention that I was devoting to silly social media drama. I still have a Facebook account, but it is solely used to manage pages and participate in my favorite group, Facebook Ad Hacks.

Follow me – or don’t. It’s totally up to you. I’m merely writing for the sake of writing. I am constantly learning new things and trying to think of creative ways to apply what I already know. I have found that writing about them is the best way for me to remember and process them.

If you are reading this, please leave a comment! Ask me challenging questions, please. Present me with a Facebook ad/algorithm problem you’ve been dealing with – I’ll be happy to help.

See you in another post.