Over the last couple of days, Facebook Ads quietly deployed a targeting feature that consolidates some social inventory. Think of the new hashtag operator as a social segment phrase match concept that rolls up tightly related interests (“Topics”) up under one expression.  The new capability, available in the stock Web UI,  should prove useful to advertisers’ workflow and the organic demographic research process.

Phrase Expanded Broad Match For Social
Topics (marked with a #) let advertisers target users who present interests tightly related to the selected term, I.E. “#NFL” reaches interests like “NFL Total Access” and “What NFL.  Classic “Precise interests” (no hashtag) target users that have expressed the  specific interest. E.g. “baseball” includes only the interest “baseball”.

Think of “#Topic” as analogous search PPC’s Phrase Expanded Broad Match and classic “Precise Interests” (no #) as Exact Match.   “Topics” show up in the UI with An “Audience” size estimate right next to it, a valuable research aid. “Precise Interest targeting” has facilitated advertisers targeting ideal market segments by highly focused interests, using terms users share in their Facebook profiles. These could be mined from their  interests, activities, education and job titles, pages they like,  groups to which they belong and other areas.

Multiple Keyword Targeting Assist
Click on the little “+” sign to the right of the targeting box for another nice surprise.  Facebook Ads now uses keywords to search the targeting database for multiple entries advertisers’ provide in the for of a pasted comma delimited list. This is cool as a starting point, but is not nearly as effective (yet?) for Precise Interests discovered by typing alpha patterns, as we espouse in my book about Facebook Ads.

That said, the keyword list could be a helpful utility for “#Topic” targeting, if FB decides to include “#Topics” in the results. At present adding keywords does not appear to populate the results with hashtag topical interests which include the keyword itself. Here are the results for, “NFL, NHL, and “National Hockey League.”

It’s a surprise that including the hashtag before an added keyword does not seem to populate results with “#keyword.” However it is interesting to note that, with or without the hashtag before the added KW, Facebook returns “#[social synonym] in the suggestions. Hmmm.

Today we got word of another targeting goodie. Now USA advertisers can target specific zip codes, as opposed to previous options which only included states and some cities. Read all about it in Greg Finn’s Search Engine Land article, “Facebook Adds Targeting By Zip Codes To Advertisements.”

These developments come on the heels of FB removing the Responder Profiles report from Reports Manager and with little or no fanfare.  That fits with FB’s pattern of testing, removing, removing and testing.  We look forward to taking the new “#Topics” for a spin.

  • Brian Carter

    Hey Marty, curious- what made you compare it to phrase match rather than expanded broad match? Do we really know how tightly related they are? My concern is whether the targeting might be too broad, and the lack of a report like AdWords’ only search query report (now see all search keywords). It will be interesting to see whether CTR is lower etc. on these topic interests.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Brian Carter: I like Expanded Broad Match as a better analogy. I’m going to change the post. Thank you for the thoughtful approach.

  • David Vogel

    Hi Marty,

    I’m currently reading your book, and searched for this blog post when I realized that zip code targeting was released after your book.

    My question for you: in your book you explain that city targeting is based on the city in their profile, NOT their IP location. And, if I remember correctly, Facebook does not ask for your Zip Code as part of your profile. Does this mean that Facebook has shifted to detecting IP and allowing advertisers to target users by their actual location instead of registered location?

    By the way, I’m loving your book, and enjoyed getting to hear you at PubCon.

    • Marty Weintraub

      Facebook says, “Facebook uses a variety of information to help us determine a person’s zip code.” Many believe this might include a user’s IP address and internet service provider as well as the current city and address information users list in their profiles. It’s not hard to reconcile many city names, especially smaller towns, to an empirical zipcode. Performance data seems to indicate that the zip code algo depends heavily on IP location.