Have you tried exclusion targeting?

In Power Editor, you can exclude folks you DON’T want to hit. For Google PPC veterans, this is the equivalent of negative keywords. For example, if you ran a personals site, you’d bid on “dating”, but have “carbon” as a negative to not match on “carbon dating”.


With Facebook, we can choose targets and exclude audiences within them.  For example, maybe we want to target the entire US minus San Diego.


Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.15.53 AM


Or maybe you’re a mortgage company licensed to operate in 47 states– you could list out all 47 states as a target or just just select United States and negative out the three states you don’t serve.


Let’s say that you’ve got your marketing automation running smoothly. You have content for those new to your brand and then content bucketed out mid-funnel as well as conversion.


You can exclude folks who are already fans, so they don’t see top of funnel messages.


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Same for those you already have emails for– exclude them if they’re on your list already.


Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.23.30 AM


The pros by now are nodding their heads vigorously, as using the right combos of positive and negative audiences is critical to not wasting traffic. Even if you bid CPC or optimized CPM, not targeting as precisely as possible will cause your CPC to be higher.  Remember that Facebook is maximizing their eCPM (effective CPM), so they will charge you more when you waste inventory to make up for who didn’t click.


Negative feedback will hurt your organic rankings, as well as damage your brand value. Don’t want to be known for irritating users, right?


Many folks have asked for boolean logic– the ability to specify ANDs and ORs wherever they like.


For example, there is a difference between those folks who:


like Coke
like Pepsi
Like Coke and Pepsi
Like Coke or Pepsi


Coke venn Diagram


With precise targets, we can determine the audience size of those who like A or B as well as A and B.  However, we are, as of this writing, unable to target those who like A and B– despite being able to extrapolate the counts via some Venn Diagram magic.


In broad category targeting, you actually can get this.


Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.36.58 AM


You can specify ANY (which is OR) as well as ALL (which is AND).  So if you add in a bunch of broad category targets with AND, you’ll keep cutting down your audience size the more you AND along.


Likewise, if you choose ANY, then you’re expanding the audience, since you’re saying you’re looking to reach folks who like one or more of these topics, as opposed to ALL of them.


Watch your counts.


Put too many in the ALL bucket and you end up slicing your audience down to zero. If the estimator says “20 or fewer”, that means zero.


We have 50,000 people when we target ANY of these broad interests:


Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.45.47 AM


But we have just 1,260 when we try to do ALL of these broad interests. I had to remove one of them, since it was too many for Facebook’s tool to estimate.


Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.48.11 AM


One day we’ll be able to specify ANDs and ORs (boolean logic) between target groups and within target groups.  But until then, you’ll just have to make a lot of ad combos and clever custom audiences.


In our next segment, let’s talk about how to determine the right audience size for your targeting and budget.


Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.

He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Evening News.

He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as the London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70-mile ultramarathon.

Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.

You can contact him at dennis@blitzmetrics.com