How to Create a Facebook Ad with Custom Audiences

We recently released support for Facebook Custom Audiences, along with a walkthrough of How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience using these new reports. This walkthrough will show how to take the custom and lookalike audiences created in these previous posts and create Facebook ads targeting these new audiences. To get started, you will need to navigate to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on the Create an Ad button.

The first step in creating a Facebook advertisement is to determine what the ad’s marketing objective is. For most races and events, the primary objective of the campaign will be to drive registrations or Conversions, so for our example, we will show an ad setup with the goal of driving conversions.

Once you have selected the conversations objective, you will be asked if you want to create a split test, and you will be prompted to create a name for the campaign. Split tests are an advanced technique used to compare different advertisements and strategies to determine which are the most effective advertisements. In this example, we will be setting up a simple advertisement without using a split test, but stay tuned for a split-test walkthrough in the future!

The next step in your setup will be to create a name for a new Ad Set. An Ad Set allows you to define a target audience and spending rules. You can then create advertisements within that Ad Set, which will follow all of the targeting and spending rules defined by the Ad Set. This allows you to easily define the targeting and spending, but to create different ad copy for separate advertisements.

Next, you will have to define what a conversion is for this advertisement. You can either use the standard Purchase event, which RunSignUp will trigger when a registration is completed, or you can create a Custom Conversion.

Our next step will be to determine the target audience for our advertisement. The first section of this form prompts the users to select a custom or lookalike as the baseline targeting.

If you are using a custom audience, all the targeting you need to do is to select that audience from the dropdown! Facebook will create a target audience that only references the Facebook users on the list that you specifically uploaded. You can add additional targeting information such as zip code radius, age, and gender, but this will narrow your target list. Since the custom lists generated through RunSignUp will have participated in your event in some way, typically you won’t want to further refine this target audience.

However, if you are creating an advertisement from a lookalike audience rather than a custom audience, additional refinement is a vital step. Unlike a custom audience that is targeting a specific list, a lookalike audience takes the participants on your custom list and attempts to find Facebook users that are close matches and are therefore good targets for your campaign. The caveat, however, is when creating a lookalike audience you can only setup geographic targets by continent or country. This means by default your lookalike audience will target the entire United States.

Obviously, targeting the entire country for a race is rarely the way to achieve the highest return on investment. To address this problem, click on the “Edit Locations” button and enter the name of any locations you wish to target. Facebook will then update a map displaying the different areas targeted by the advertisement. This will then take the nationwide lookalike audience and refine its targeting to only include lookalike participants within the geographical targeting.

The next steps allow you to refine additional targeting, including or excluding participants based on specific interests or connections. Since we are using either custom audiences or lookalike audiences, we do not necessarily need to add additional targeting based on interests, but the options are available.

While you are building your advertisement, Facebook will give you a running total of the approximate size of your audience, an estimated daily reach, and conversions based on your spending. Keep an eye on these metrics as you refine your targeting to make sure you don’t accidentally make your advertisement too inclusive or exclusive.

When you are satisfied with your audience, click on the Save This Audience button at the bottom of the Audience setup. Facebook will then generate a popup with a summary of the information in this target audience, as well as prompt you for a name of the audience. Be sure to name the audience with a descriptive name so it is easy to understand and re-use for any additional advertisements.

After defining your audience, you will be prompted on how you would like Facebook to determine where the ads should be placed. It is recommended that you use the default setting of Automatic Placements, which allows Facebook to determine the best locations to place your advertisements. You can select the option not to place your advertisements in certain locations, but this is only recommended if you have very specific reasons for refining your ad’s placement.

The final step in creating your Ad Set is to determine your Budget & Schedules. Budgets can be set on a daily amount or a lifetime spending. If you select a daily budget, you’ll be given the option to run the advertisement continually or select a specific date range. If you select a lifetime budget, you will have to define the dates you wish the advertisement to run. These scheduling capabilities allow races to create and run advertisements closely linked to specific events, such as holiday discounts or price increase promotions.

The remaining advanced options can further refine your schedule and conversion windows, but can easily be left on the Facebook defaults unless you have a specific reason to refine these parameters.

Once you’ve defined your Ad Set’s target audience and budget, you can create the specific copy of the advertisement you are running. If you have access to a Facebook Page associated with your advertising target, you can link your business’s page to the targeted ad.

Next, you will determine the format and the advertisement. Facebook provides a number of different advertisement options ranging from a single image ad to a slideshow or video advertisement.

Facebook will then prompt you to enter the content of the advertisement based on the type of ad being placed. You can either upload images or select a free stock image provided by Facebook.

The final step to place your advertisement will be to set the destination URL of where to send users who click on the link, the headline of the ad, the text of the ad, and a call to action as shown below:

Facebook will automatically generate the advertisement preview shown on the right. You can select different types of ad previews by using the drop-down menu under the Ad Preview setup, to see how the advertisement will appear in different mediums – both a mobile view and a desktop view.

Once you are satisfied with your ad’s content, click the green Confirm button at the bottom right-hand side of the page. Facebook will review your advertisements to make sure it meets its guidelines, and will begin serving your ads to your target audiences!




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