No matter what platform you use for your digital advertising, you will boost your results just by adjusting the ad targeting of your Facebook and/or Google ads campaigns.

Paid ads can help your business increase sales, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website. Ad targeting is the process of carefully selecting who will see each ad you create.

However, the process of creating ads —- and figuring out who to show those ads to — can be complex and overwhelming.

Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered with this guide to targeting ads on both Facebook and Google.

Why Is Ad Targeting So Important? 

For starters, there are more than 4 billion active internet users around the globe.

So failure to target your ad might mean it’s viewed by thousands — or millions — of people.

But better ad reach does not always mean better conversions.

Reach or Conversions?

Let’s say you own a local auto body shop and are looking to increase your revenue.

You create an ad campaign that costs .01 per ad view (this is a made-up number for ease of math).

That means for $10, you will reach 1,000 people.

Would you rather reach 1,000 people around the globe (who are unlikely to come to your auto body shop) or spend that same $10 to reach 1,000 people who live within 10 miles of your shop and own cars?

It should be pretty obvious that you are going to earn more sales from an ad that targets an audience near you.

Ad targeting allows marketers and business owners to limit the reach of their ads, which increases your return on ad spend and increases conversion rates by only showing ads to people who are likely to be interested in their product or service.

Depending on the platform you use to create your ads, you might be able to adjust targeting based on:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Life events
  • Homeownership
  • Education level
  • Income
  • Interests

You may also be able to target ads based on a specific action.

For example, you might retarget people who added an item to their cart on your website but didn’t complete their purchase.

Or, if you are selling wedding dresses, you might choose to target women between the ages of 23 and 35 who are engaged or have expressed interest in wedding-related content.

How to Nail Your Ad targeting

Nearly any platform that allows you to create paid ads will offer some level of ad targeting based on demographic or behavioral elements. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • YouTube
  • Bing
  • Snapchat
  • Yahoo

However, not all ad platforms are created equal.

If your business is incredibly niche, you might decide to rely on a smaller ad platform like Bing or Yahoo (which do have a decent reach, just not the largest).

But if you want to reach the widest audience possible — and be able to segment that audience into incredibly granular and high-quality target segments — your best bet are the big two: Facebook and Google.

That is because Facebook and Google make up the largest overall percentage of digital ad spend, at 22 % and 37%, respectively.

But, to make the most out of the incredible reach on Facebook and Google, you need to know how to reach your target audience.

So let’s get into it. Here’s a walkthrough of how to target your ads on Facebook and Google:

Ads Targeting on Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, with nearly 2.5 billion active users.

If you want to reach the most people, Facebook’s ad platform offers a solid choice.

But, how do you make sure you are reaching the right Facebook users? With Facebook ad targeting, of course.

Here’s how to create hyper-targeted Facebook ads.

There are three main types of audiences you can create for ads on Facebook:

  • Saved audiences:
    Audiences you create by defining who you want to reach based on demographic information, location, device, etc.
  • Custom audiences:
    People you choose to target based on data from outside Facebook, including those who have visited your website, launched your app, sent a message to your Facebook page, or from your email list.
  • Lookalike audiences:
    After you create a custom audience, you can then choose to target audiences that ‘look like’ those people. This means Facebook will generate an audience based on the information you’ve provided.

To give you a better idea of how you can target ads on Facebook, we’re going to walk through how to create a Saved Audience, which will give you access to the largest number of targeting options — and you can save your selections to use for ads in the future.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Sign in to Facebook Business Manager 

Sign in to the Facebook Business Manager, which is a platform that allows you to create and manage all your Facebook and Instagram campaigns, then access the Facebook Ads manager.

If you don’t have Facebook Business Manager set up, you’ll need to complete that step first. 

Note: On your Facebook page, you might notice a tab labeled “Ad center.” You can create Facebook ads there, however, the targeting options are more limited than in the Facebook Business Manager.

Step 2: Choose an ad type 

What is the purpose of your ad?

Facebook gives you several options, including boosting a post, promoting your Facebook page, get more website visitors, get more leads, or promoting your business locally:

For the purpose of this walkthrough, we’re going to choose the “Promote Your Page” options.

Note that depending on the ad type you select, you might see different options.

For example, if you choose to promote your business locally, Facebook’s Ad Manager will focus on targeting local people rather than by interests, though you will still have that option.

Step 3: Select Your Audience Type

As we mentioned above, there are three main audience types.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we will create a saved audience, which provides the greatest number of ad target options.

So, tap “Saved audiences.” 

For a full explanation of how to create and optimize each type of ad audience, check out this beginner post on Facebook ads targeting. 

Step 4: Target Your Audience 

Now it is time to start targeting your ad! Start by naming your audience.

Make sure the name is easy to distinguish and use a format that will help you remember who the audience targets. For example “Spring20BusinesName,” or similar.

Then, it is time to start targeting your ideal audience.

Currently, you can target people based on location, demographic information, gender, languages, and interests.

Facebook’s location-based targeting options include country, state, county, city, postal code, and an adjustable radius from a specific address, as shown below.

Facebook demographic ad targeting options include age, gender, and language but also more detailed information such as their employer, interests, and much more.

For example, in the screenshot below, we targeted men and women who listed Zara Home as their employer:

Other options to target ads on Facebook under demographics include education, home, life events, whether they are parents, their political affiliation, and whether they are in a relationship or not.

Facebook will tell you the size of your audience each step of the way so you can make sure your audience isn’t too broad — or overly specific.

You can also choose who you don’t want to target by tapping the “Exclude People” button.

For example, if you are promoting a vegan beauty care line, you might choose to exclude people who express interest in hunting.

Once you’ve appropriately narrowed your audience, you will be asked to set your ad spend and create your ad.

Ad Targeting on Google

Every day, people around the globe perform more than 3.5 billion searches on Google. This means creating a Google ad can give your business access to millions of users all over the world.

And, just like Facebook, you can use Google ad targeting options to select exactly who sees your ads.

Google allows advertisers to create a variety of ad types, including search, display, and video ads.

Search ads are those that show up at the top of search results when users perform a Google search.

Display ads are ads that are displayed on a variety of partner sites, often as a banner ad or in the sidebar.

Video Ads are videos, rather than static text or image ads. Google video ads may be displayed on partner sites or YouTube.

Now that you understand the different types of ads you can create with Google Ads, let’s cover how to target specific users based on demographic,

Step 1: Sign in to Google Ads 

Previously called Google Adwords, Google Ads is the platform where advertisers can create ads to reach millions of internet users around the globe.

To start targeting Google Ads, you will first need to sign in here, then choose “New Campaign.

Step 2: Choose the type of ad you want to create 

What is the goal of your campaign? Select the result that would make you feel like your Google ad was a success.

For this example, we are going to be creating an ad for a local pizza restaurant, so we’re going to choose “Brand Awareness and Reach.”

Next, choose the type of ad you want to create. Note that the options here may vary based on your goal. For our pizza restaurant, we’re going to select “Display.” 

Step 3: Target Specific Audiences 

The first set of options Google provides is to target based on geographical location.

This target option is particularly useful for local businesses that only want to reach people within a few miles of their location.

Note, you can also exclude people in this option.

For example, if you want to avoid targeting people in a specific city that you don’t serve, you can add that info here.

Once you have chosen the geographical location, keep scrolling down and select targeting options for language, set your ad budget, ad rotation, and Ad schedule, which allows you to set when your ads are displayed.

For example, you might choose to turn your ads off when your restaurant closes.

Step 4: Choose your audience

As you scroll through the options, you will (eventually) reach “Audiences,” which is where you can create really detailed targeting.

If you haven’t set up an audience yet, you’ll need to head over to the Audience Manager.

Once in the Audience Manager, select “Custom Audiences“, then tap the blue plus sign to create a new audience.

You are then given two options — custom intent, which is people who are researching products and services, and custom affinity, which is people who have interests that align with your brand.

Since we are creating an ad for a pizza restaurant to increase brand awareness, we’re going to choose custom affinity. On the other hand, if your goal is to make online sales, you might choose custom intent.

Step 5: Name Your Audience

You will be able to use this audience over and over again, but you also want to understand who, exactly, this audience is targeting.

Use a unique name that will make sense to you later, like “PizzaSpring2020.” (You can also add a description to help you remember who this audience targets)

Step 6: Add Interests 

Add at least five relevant interests — this can include broad topics like “pizza” or narrow topics such as a specific video game.

You can also target people who have expressed interest in an app or website.

Tap Create.

Step 7: Head Back to Google Ads Manager

You should now be able to select the audience you just created, though you may need to reload the site.

Select the audience you’ve just created, then keep scrolling down till you see “Demographics.”

Step 8: Choose Demographic Targeting 

Next, you can choose who you want to see your ad based on age, gender, parental status, and household income.

Once you have selected your demographic options, you’re done targeting your audience.

The next step is to create your ad, set a budget, then send it live!

Ad Targeting: Final Thoughts 

Creating targeted ads is one of the most effective ways to increase the ROI of your paid ads — however, it’s just the first step.

Now that you know how to create targeted ads, you will need to use A/B ad testing to find out if certain audiences are more likely to convert.

You might find, for example, that men over the age of 25 are more likely to convert or that people with a higher income tend to spend more per order.

Ready to make the most of your ad spend? Start your free 14-day trial of AdEspresso now.