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Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Best Practices & Pro Tips

Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Best Practices & Pro Tips

NOTE: Updated March 2022

One of the strongest tools in the Facebook audience targeting arsenal is the Lookalike Audience (LAL).

Facebook provides a vast amount of ways to reach potential customers and what makes Lookalike Audiences so powerful is their ability to reach new audiences more inclined to like what you have to offer.

Here we’ll give you the best practices and some pro tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Facebook ad targeting. 

What is a Lookalike Audience in Facebook?

Also known as a seed audience, a Lookalike Audience in Facebook is a method of reaching new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they share traits with a specific group of existing prospects that you choose.  

Sources of existing prospects include:

  • Customer list
  • Website visitors (using the Facebook Pixel)
  • App activity
  • People that engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page/or its content
  • Prospects gathered offline (lists you may have built up through in store promotions for example)

Once you’ve got your chosen list of prospects from a Custom Audience list, pixel or page, Facebook then will identify the qualities of people i.e. location, interests, age etc – and then deliver your ad to an audience of people who are similar to or who “look like” them.

The possibilities for Lookalike Audiences on Facebook are endless. Multiple Lookalike Audiences can be used at the same time and with other targeting parameters such as age, gender and interests.

Creating a Lookalike Audience in Facebook

Creating Lookalike Audiences in Facebook Ads account is easy. 

Make sure you’re an admin for the Page or pixel you’re creating it from. If you’re making a Lookalike Audience from a Custom Audience, you need to have the role of Admin or Advertiser on the ad account.

Step one – create the source

In Facebook Ads Manager:

  1. Go to the Audiences tab 
  2. Select Create Audience
  3. Choose Lookalike Audience
  4. Select your Custom Audience

Match the source audience to your goals

If your goal is to increase brand awareness, use your Page’s existing followers and supporters to establish the Facebook Lookalike Audience. 

If you want to increase online sales, use website visitors that have visited during the last 30 days and added to cart as they’re your bottom of the funnel target.

Here are some other factors to consider when creating your Lookalike Audience locations:

  • You can create up to 500 Lookalike Audiences from a single source audience
  • Facebook recommends between 1,000 and 50,000 people in your original Custom Audience 
  • People in your source audience will be excluded unless you use a pixel as your source audience
  • You can use multiple Lookalike Audiences at the same time for a single ad set
  • The ad set will target your ads to people who are in any of the selected Lookalike Audiences.

Pro tip

A targeted audience of loyal customers will always perform better than a broad audience. Avoid using too broad an audience like “all website visitors” as these larger audiences will include bot and fake traffic, and high-bounce website visitors. Veracity allows you to block fake bot traffic on your Lookalike Audience campaigns, giving you a much better quality broad audience. 

Step two – choose your audience location 

Your source audience needs to contain at least 100 people from the same country for Facebook to accept them. It will only include people from the country/countries that you select during creation.

Step 3 – determine your audience size and similarity

The last step is to choose how “alike” your Lookalike Audience on Facebook is. The 1% lookalike audience will be the most similar and most likely to convert with a lower cost per lead (CPL). You can create Lookalike Audiences on higher percentages of difference, right up to 10% which gives you a broader audience. 

If you’re targeting 25-year-olds, you could be wasting money if your 10% Lookalike Audience is hitting the 35 and over age bracket.

iOS privacy changes

The size of your lookalike audience source may decrease because it may not include some iOS 14 users because of the recent changes which now require device users to “opt in” to advertising and give their permission for their data to be used. 

Using this data as a lookalike source will not affect your Lookalike Audience’s size, but may affect the accuracy. Facebook has a guide on how the changes may affect your ad strategy.

Pro tips with Lookalike Audiences

1. Avoid audience overlap

When using a Lookalike Audience strategy, be careful of audience overlap. You don’t want the same people to be seeing the same ad multiple times.

What is audience overlap?

Let’s say you have a ‘website audience’ and an audience of ‘website – add to carts’. You can guess that prospects in your add to cart audience will also exist in your website visitor audience. 

How to check for overlap

Thankfully, Facebook has a useful tool within the Audiences section of business manager that will show you any audience overlap.

How to prevent audience overlap

When you’re running a broad audience i.e. website visitors at the same time as a more focused one i.e add to cart, you can exclude them from each other as shown in the screengrab below.

2. Use a nested Lookalike Audience strategy

With a nested Lookalike Audience you take your Custom Audience and then target to 1% of a specific market (geographic location, age bracket, gender etc) which looks most like your best audience.

Then you exclude them from the next group which are less similar i.e. 2%, and so on up to the maximum of 10% if you want to fully expand your reach.

Each time you expand the ring, you exclude the segment who were in the previous one. Then you test each audience to see which performs the best. Typically, 1% shows the most promising returns but occasionally the 3% bracket can perform better.

The nested strategy is generally used to expand on existing audiences which are already performing well, but it can also be used to find a new market of people who perform better than your existing ones.

When using a nested audience strategy it’s important to be aware that the same best practices concerning your Lookalike Audiences still apply. The original Custom Audience source should ideally be at least 5,000 users, but more is even better. This ensures there i s enough data to find the best Lookalikes.

Your source audience should be composed of people who have taken the action you’re trying to drive. If you are trying to drive purchases of a particular product or service, then upload an audience made up of people who have bought those items or services, or a similar one, previously.

The nested Lookalike Audience is a great way to get more use from your Facebook audiences. The Facebook algorithms work, but it’s never a good idea to leave the success or failure of your ad campaigns just to those.

Using the nested strategy allows you to work with Facebook’s algorithms to improve the quality of your overall targeting and get your ads in front of the right audience – and not just the default one Facebook picks for you.

3. Mitigate against fake campaign traffic 

Using Google Analytics and Facebook’s own data isn’t enough. You need to mitigate against invalid traffic, which could be accounting for up to 60% of your ad interactions and wasting your Facebook ads budget.

Veracity helps increase the amount of human interactions you get from your Facebook ads.  We protect your spend going to fraudulent channels and harmful bots.

Start your journey by having the best available data. At Veracity we’ve been champions of transparent marketing data since our foundation. With click fraud detection and mitigation across search and social, Veracity feeds other parts of the MarTech stack with better quality data, to enable improved analytics, decision-making and results.

Implementing Veracity will aid improvement of your Facebook campaign ROAS, as you can remove fake invalid traffic and identify exactly what is working and driving conversion for better decision-making on where to spend your budget.

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