Facebook Custom Audiences

PG hadn’t heard of Facebook Custom List Audiences before. Here’s a simple description from Facebook:

A Custom Audience from a customer list is a type of audience you can create made up of your existing customers. You can target ads to the audience you’ve created on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.

You upload, copy and paste or import your hashed customer list, then we use the hashed data from it to match the people on your list to people on Facebook.

Link to the rest at Facebook

PG hadn’t heard about Facebook Custom Audiences of any sort (there are a variety of different ones) before.

Basically, you send your customer list (or, maybe your email list, PG hasn’t checked to see what Facebook will accept) to Facebook (I know, I still don’t trust them either.)

Facebook identifies which people on Facebook and/or Instagram are also on your customer list and creates a one-of-a-kind advertising audience for your advertisements (for the book you just released, for example).

But wait, there’s more!

In the process of exploring Facebook Custom Audiences, PG discovered Facebook Engagement Custom Audiences as well. What are they?

An Engagement Custom Audience is a Custom Audience made up of people who have engaged with your content across the Facebook family of apps and services.

“Engagement” refers to actions like spending time viewing your videos or opening your lead form or Canvas. Using Engagement Custom Audiences, you can target ads to people who’ve taken these actions. You can also use it as a source for a Lookalike Audience, which will let you find people who are similar to those who’ve engaged with your Facebook content.

Here are the engagement types available, broken down Engagement Custom Audience type:

. . . .

 When you create an Engagement Custom Audience, you tell us how many days you want us to go back when collecting engagement. This means that if you tell us to look back 30 days and someone has engaged 29 days ago, that person will be in your audience. However, if they fail to engage in the next day, they will then be removed from it. Anyone new who engages within the time period you choose will be added to the audience. This means that the audience is constantly being refreshed, so you don’t need to edit or create a new Engagement Custom Audience unless you want to change the time period or the type of engagement.

PG didn’t look at the costs involved with advertising via custom audiences but expects it’s greater than zero and probably higher than just buying a Facebook ad.

PG understands why some authors might not trust Facebook with their mailing lists. He deleted his personal Facebook accounts several weeks ago in response to Facebook’s privacy shortcomings/failures/abuses.

Advertising on Facebook may fall into the Doing Business with the Devil category for some people. However, some people are willing to use the services of those whose values differ from theirs. PG is willing to walk into a store owned by people he wouldn’t invite into his home.

Has anyone used any of the Custom Audience features on Facebook?

If so, what was your experience and what were the costs?

12 thoughts on “Facebook Custom Audiences”

  1. I would never share my mailing list with Facebook. I’m a heavy FB user – in my personal life. I have an author page, that I post on not often enough. But share my mailing list – no way.
    Besides the fact that I don’t trust FB, it would be going back on my word to my readers. Most writers have said something on their websites by now about what they do with their data. I’ve told my readers that I don’t share their information. Period. And to do so with a company like FB would really be a breach of their trust.

    • Nailed it.

      The two things facebonk wants is more money and more data they can use/sell to make more money.

      To quote their top fiend: “They trust me. Stupid F***s …”

      • FB already has it, your readers gave it to them when they signed up for a FB acct. If they don’t have a FB acct, then when FB tries to put them in your Custom Audience, they won’t be able to. Now can FB take this ‘virgin’ email and do something dirty with it? Probably.

  2. I’ve used both Facebook custom audiences and Facebook Engagement audiences. I didn’t know about them either until I had a chat with a customer representative who talked me through them.

    There’s no additional cost to using either, and you can even use people who already like your FB business page as the seed, so no need to upload a list of email addresses.

    However, I did discover that targeting adverts to either of these audiences resulted in a higher cost per click. I guess that’s why their customer reps are instructed to talk us through how to use them 🙂

    • “There’s no additional cost to using either …”

      When you are not the buyer you (and your data) are the product being sold …

  3. I agree with Linda. It’s a violation of trust.

    Also, why would I pay for ads to target people who are already on my email list? I can send them an email for free.

    This raises another question, though. Facebook incorporates an email signup list on my author site (yes, I put it there). I never thought that they might be harvesting addresses from it, as these are supposed to go directly to my email server. Now I’m starting to worry.

  4. As I understand it, you’re not technically providing Facebook with a list of email addresses because you’re hashing that list first (taking each email address and expressing it as a string of characters). That can’t be reversed (in theory). Facebook also has a hashed list of email addresses that THEY can’t reverse. They compare your list of hashes with theirs and use the matches. You can also use that custom-audience list to create a lookalike audience (people with the same attributes as those on your custom list). Now, I suppose you’re still trusting Facebook to some degree because at some point, their systems have to know who these people are. But again, in theory, that’s supposed to be OK because we’re allowed to use the hashing method with our customers’ email addresses when sharing them via a less secure way could violate the laws about what you’re allowed to do with your lists.

    I’ve done it for work on both Facebook and LinkedIn, but I don’t think what I’m doing at the day job would apply to the author business at all.

    Has it worked? Hard to say. Attribution is one of the toughest parts of what we do.

    But I just wanted to point out that the hashing aspect of it is supposed to protect the email addresses you’ve been entrusted with. (Again, in theory. Someone with far better technical knowledge than I have may be able to explain why it’s not as safe as they want you to think.)

  5. My biggest problem as an indie mainstream writer is finding the people who might like my work and will read indies.

    These groups have a small overlap, so marketing to either results in way too many misses.

    I still do it by hand, reading reviews, connecting with readers, offering an electronic ARC, and slowly acquiring some lovely reviews. It is personal and energy-intensive, and so far has about a 50% acceptance rate. Unfortunately, it is also usually a dead end (except those reviews are often long and detailed and golden).

    If FB had a legitimate way for me to figure out who to market to, I’d be open to the concept. For writers with a small target audience, better weapons are paramount; shotgun scattershot approaches annoy too many non-copacetic readers.

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