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Facebook Custom Audiences – a potential game-changer?

by Ray Doyle. Posted on Facebook Custom Audiences – a potential game-changer?

Facebook breathlessly released Custom Audiences last week and argued that their development team has handed marketers everywhere a powerful advertising weapon. However only consistent use of the platform will prove (or disprove) such an assertion.

Traditionally marketers have been able to target specific individuals by post, phone or email, but, thanks to Facebook, that convention is now possible via social media.

It’s easy to see why Facebook’s latest marketing platform has everyone in the digital marketing sphere talking about a potential game-changer – Facebook Ads already provided marketers everywhere with a means to connect with potential customers, but, now, Custom Audiences offer a potential level of online direct marketing never before seen.

Is the potential of Facebook Custom Audiences limited only by your imagination? We will have to wait and see.

So, what are Facebook Custom Audiences?

Custom Audiences are created by matching a marketer’s set of customer email addresses, phone numbers or user IDs to Facebook accounts which include the same information – therefore it allows marketer’s to target current customers with ads based on an email, phone or Facebook user ID list.

Facebook Custom Audiences

Now marketers enjoy an opportunity to upload a customer email list, Facebook user IDs or phone numbers (via the Power Editor and/or the advertising API) to be hashed (encrypted) and then checked against all Facebook users to find matches. Previously marketers may have struggled to find all of their existing customers on Facebook, but there is a very good chance, for example, that the email address on record was the same email address used to register a Facebook account.

Obviously, the information fed into Facebook Custom Audiences can also work alongside pre-existing targeting options provided by Facebook Advertising. Furthermore you can opt to customise your Facebook ad to your Custom Audience by adding a further layer based on those who live in a specific location, their interests, demographic or by their actions. Once you have a created your Facebook Custom Audience you can then define and deploy your ads as you see fit. Plenty of options there then.


Custom Audiences remain free (for now) and any concerns surrounding privacy issues have been tempered by assurances that the service never actually uses individual data, but only hashes (encrypts) it for comparison i.e. instead of your customers’ data only their hashes are forwarded to Facebook. Similarly Facebook will only use its users’ hashes for comparison.

How you can take advantage?

Constructive use of Custom Audiences can drive sales/conversions, amplify the reach of email and/or phone campaigns and develop ‘Likes’ for your brand.

Since the customisation of your audience is now limitless your “list”, which some describe as your most important online marketing tool, is potentially much more powerful.

Ultimately, Facebook Custom Audiences provide marketers and brand managers with an opportunity to target a specific set of current customers on Facebook with a message which is potentially relevant to them alone. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a form of advertising which could be more effectively targeted.

Get beyond the crowd!

Facebook Custom Audience’s potential is vast, but whether Facebook have developed an advertising platform which will help savvy marketers build a relationship with an audience as opposed to a crowd remains to be seen. Social media on steroids? Brand Social will wait and see.

Further Reading