creepy facebook targeting

Not quite this creepy. But a little creepy.

With the advent of Facebook’s Custom Audiences ad unit, marketers have levels of control never before seen when advertising on the platform. Outside of FBX, Custom Audiences can provide a very effective way of targeting prior customers or users who are already interested in your products or services. It also offers some interesting opportunities for some clever ad buys. After all, all you need is a .CSV of email addresses to target. Here are the wackiest ways I could think of to use (and abuse) the Custom Audiences feature.

DISCLAIMER: Facebook’s TOS for Custom Audiences (to which you must agree in order to use the ad unit) indicate explicitly, “You represent and warrant with respect to the data that you are using as part of your creation of a custom audience that you (or your data provider) have provided appropriate notice to and secured any necessary consent from the data subjects whose data you are using.” Some of these methods violate that policy, and most of them are at least a little creepy for users. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

1. Target News Outlets

Want to get a nice little write-up in a local newspaper for a product or service, or maybe you’re a start-up looking to score some coverage on a major tech blog? One way you could break through the noise would be to gather a list of all the reporters for the outlets you’re targeting, determine their naming schema (d.wilkerson@fakenews.com, danwilk@fakenews.com, etc.), and generate a .CSV with those names to use as a custom audience. If you’re really determined, you could also check the usual places for personal email addresses those journalists might use – after all, not many users register their Facebook with a work email. Still, it’s worth a shot – especially combined with the workplace targeting already available in Facebook.

2. Target User Names

Yet another way to break through the noise, if you have the data, would be to target based on a user’s first name. All you would need to do is create separate audiences for everyone with similar names (e.g. John, Dan, Dave) and then incorporate their name into your body copy. Is it creepy? Sure. Would it stand out? Definitely!

3. Target organizations

Use the same method for #1 and supplement Facebook’s workplace targeting with a custom audience. This could be good for a variety of use cases – for instance, if you wanted to target a potential customer as a B2B. Again, keep in mind that most users probably won’t be using their work e-mail addresses to create user profiles, so this would better serve as a supplement than anything else.

4. Remove wasted ad spend

This is probably the only really viable idea on this list, although it requires a little elbow grease. Again, keeping in mind the caveat about workplace emails and Facebook account registration, you could help prevent wasted ad spend by maintaining a list of competitors and competitor employees that you specify ads do not target. This could save you a little ad spend that might otherwise have been wasted.

And that’s it! Those are the four worst/best ideas I could think of for Facebook’s Custom Audience ads. What have you used Custom Audiences for? Let me know in the comments.

– Dan Wilkerson

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Dan Wilkerson is Marketing Manager at LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics certified partner that also specializes in social media, search engine optimization, and PPC. You can follow him @notdanwilkerson or @LunaMetrics.