How To Up Your Ad Game with Facebook and Google Interest Targeting

Kimberly Burghart July 20, 2016

What is Interest-Based Advertising and Why Should You Care? 

In this how-to post, we’ll be discussing what interest-based advertising is and how Facebook and Google are using it to give advertisers the power to better target the right audiences. We’ll also break down each service and how it works on that platform specifically. 

Interest-based advertising can be beneficial to both consumers and advertisers. On one hand, advertisers can directly target those who have shown an interest in their brand’s genre—on the other, consumers can choose to opt in and out of specific ad categories or even opting out of interest-based advertising all together. Giving consumers greater control over the ads they see creates a better response to those ads (a win-win for everyone). The two biggest users of interest-based advertising, Facebook and Google, compile your interests into a list and establish their own respective methods of delivering online ads:

“We show you ads based on things we think you care about. Your preferences include information from your profile as well as actions you take on and off Facebook. Add or remove preferences to see ads you’ll find relevant.” – Facebook

“These interests are derived from your activity on Google sites, such as the videos you’ve watched on YouTube. This does not include Gmail interests, which are used only for ads within Gmail.” – Google

Both services collect user data from individual’s online interactions and translate this into interest lists. From here this data is used for targeting in advertisers’ ad campaigns on Facebook Business and Google AdWords.

If you have an account with Facebook or Google, you can check your interests here:

Why Add Targeting to Your Ad Campaign?

Facebook Business

Facebook’s ad targeting is relatively straightforward when setting up an ad campaign, but it’s something that advertisers often bypass. If you know your audience, adding interest-based advertising to Facebook ads is a no brainer. Aside from the base targeting options (location, age, gender, language), Facebook provides detailed targeting (interest-based advertising) which is great for delivering ads directly to people who are more likely to have interest in your product or service.

To use this option, simply enter in key interests your consumers have. Facebook offers a list of common interest for you to choose from if you’re having trouble thinking of your own. It even provides suggestions based off the other interests you’ve chosen. Based on your selected targets, your ads will be far more likely to reach their intended target.

Google AdWords

Similar to Facebook’s detailed targeting feature, AdWords allows you to create custom affinity audiences for your ad campaigns. Adding interest-based ads to AdWords can be a bit more difficult, but works in relatively the same manner. You should also note that Google’s interest-based advertising can only be used on ad campaigns within Google’s Display Network.

Google starts with offering its list of the core most common interest themes. Under each overlying theme you’ll find more specific interests. All of these interest topics are what get assigned to users as their “interests” while they surf the web. Most users don’t opt out of target advertising so using these interests can be extremely valuable. If none of these work for what you’re looking for, you can also enter in your own. Once you create a custom affinity list, you’ll be able to use and add it to any of your existing or future ad campaigns.

Tips for Interest-Based Ad Targeting

While interest-based advertising and ad targeting are extremely useful, you should keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Know your customer’s interests!
    • If you’re advertising on Facebook, you have access to personal pages with user’s interests, make use of these.
    • With Google, think of the keywords you often use to curate your content.
  2. For better conversion rates, be more specific with your interest choices.
  3. Make sure your base targeting options (location, age, gender, language) are relevant to your targeted interest groups.
  4. Audit your key interests regularly and change the ones that aren’t producing.
  5. Give viewers a variety. Layer your ads by having multiple ads targeting similar groups.

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