Targeting Facebook Moms: Rural vs. Urban Penetration

Posted in Demographic Research

There are a lot of misconceptions in the mainstream marketing world about Facebook (FB) as a fertile advertising platform. Deep psychographic research and a robust ad platform are essential for deadeye targeting- really honing in on the type of people you want not only to see your FB ads, but eagerly click on them (and subsequently, convert!). The most enchanting FB ads musing we’ve heard recently was a comment made by a C-level guest in our office, who was interested in the estimated population of a specific demographic audience on Facebook: rural female parents. The specific question was regarding who uses FB more: moms in urban cities or rural towns? It was an interesting question indeed. So we dug a little deeper into rural Facebook mommy penetration to learn more.

Our study showed that even though FB’s social graph seems only minimally able to identify pregnant females, there is some interesting data to be had.  Most notably, in locales we studied, rural areas have a higher concentration of mommy FB account holders than do urban.  You may be surprised exactly where moms use the world’s largest social network :). Let’s get started.

We wanted to know the answers to the following questions:

  • Do female parents in urban cities use FB more than those living in rural towns?
  • Can FB accurately target parents in the US, urban cities, and rural towns? How about expecting parents?
  • Does the data change if we place an age band on the results?

So, we studied:

  • Females, age 16-44
    • Living in the US (as a whole), urban cities (Boston, MA, Saint Louis, MO, and San Francisco, CA)
    • Rural towns (Camp Verde, AZ, Magnolia, AR, Kingsburg, CA, Ipswich, MA, Redwing, MN, Circleville, OH, Gaffney, SC, Mukilteo, WA, Smithfield, VA, Rockingham, NC).
  • Broad category: Parents (All), Expecting Parents, and Expecting Parents + Parents (child: 0-19yrs)
For the number crunchers out there: the raw data from our study lives at the bottom of this post.

What we found:

Because Broad targeting returns such a low number, it seems the FB can’t fully target expecting mothers. The broad category is there, but, really? Less than one percent of women on FB ages 16-44 are expecting (0.07%)? We think not.

Graph 1: Takes a look at the entire US population of females on FB (ages 16-44) compared to the population of female parents with children (broad category: ages expecting -19), only 3.8% claim to be mothers. If you’re thinking what we’re thinking, that number is more than a little low. Compare that to 6% of women living in urban cities, and 12.5% of rural living moms. We’re starting to see a trend forming…

Graph 2: In order to see how consistent FB’s numbers were, we placed an age band over the broad category of parents with children (ages: expecting – 19 years). We wanted to see if our numbers improved. They did. As you can see, the number jumped from 3.8% to 16.5% when broken up by age. That’s a much larger slice of pie.

Graph 3: Now, if you compare that same group (entire US population of females on FB) to the group of people who claim to be in the Parents (All) broad category, it jumps to 30.7%!

Meanwhile, 39% of women on Facebook living in rural towns are parents. Compare that to 19% of women in urban cities and your question is answered, my friend.

So here’s the long story short. Facebook can’t reliably predict expecting parents; they have extremely low numbers when it comes to parents with children broad categories (increasing still when age banded), and topping off with decent numbers in the Parents (All) broad category.

As far as urban vs. rural goes: it may be a smaller population, but as the data shows rural rules. You could say we hit the mother load of mommy penetration.

Photo Credit: bighappyfunhouse.com

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