Using the targeting expansion option on Facebook Ads seems like it could be a great way to reach more people with your ads.
It sounds good in theory. All you do is click a button and Facebook will expand their targeting to create a bigger audience.
But, do these convert the same? Or are you just going to end up paying for more impressions without an increase in sales?
I’ve tried this option in the past, and wasn’t necessarily impressed with the results. But, I tried it again recently, and saw something different.
I’ll share my experience using this function with you in-depth below, but first, let’s quickly cover what it even is.
What is the targeting expansion option on FB ads?
The targeting expansion is exactly what it sounds like. When Facebook thinks they have the opportunity to serve your ads to additional people outside your targeting, they will do it (when you have this option selected).
Here is how Facebook themselves describe this feature:
“[Targeting Expansion] allows us to add or remove interests to reach more people who may convert, but wouldn’t otherwise have been in your target audience.
“If we decide to expand your target audience, it can help increase the number of conversions at a lower cost per conversion.”
When you think about expanding your targeting, you may not think that means removing certain interests from your targeting. But as you just read above, Facebook with add or remove certain interests.
One thing that frustrates me, along with many other advertisers, is there is a bit of mystique around this feature.
No one really knows (besides Facebook) what expanding the targeting really entails. They keep us in the dark and provide no analytics or info into what audience it expands into, how many times it expands, what actually triggers and expansion, etc.
Regardless, Facebook is one of the world-wide kings of data and analytics. They have more data on your customers than you do, so it’s probably safe to trust their process here.
You probably are hesitant to dump money into something you don’t know everything about. But, this is just the way it goes with Facebook ads. It sucks, I know.
How do I expand my audience targeting on Facebook ads?
When you’re setting up the detailed interest targeting on your ads, you’ll see the option below to expand interests when it may increase conversions at a lower cost per conversion.
All you need to do is click this button, and Facebook handles the rest.
So, how does this feature actually work?
My experience using the Facebook ads targeting expansion feature
Last year, I gave the expand targeting option a try and was disappointed. I saw bad results, with my normal campaigns outperforming the test campaigns.
I will say this, though – with the expanded interest campaigns I was getting way cheaper traffic. What I mean by this is my cpms/cpcs were lower. But, my CPA was higher compared to my normal campaigns.
This makes sense when you think about it. Facebook is showing my ads to a bigger and broader audience, so the quality of traffic is lower.
My experience the second time around
Now, I’m testing the option again. This time, I am seeing similar results to the first time, but not nearly to the same degree.
It’s important that I mention I am testing this feature on different accounts than I used last year. So, it isn’t necessarily a perfect scientific experiment, but I still think we can take something away from this.
I personally think it’s exciting to see profitable performance with the expand targeting option on, because I think it will make it easier to scale accounts.
This is actually the reason I wanted to test this feature again. If the performance of my test continues in the same direction, I think it’s going to make scaling accounts a little bit easier.
If nothing else, it should help increase the freshness of audiences and keep the first impression ratio high, allowing more spend on the same audience.
Final thoughts on targeting expansion feature
I’m excited to see what happens over the next couple of weeks with this test. To be clear, I don’t want you to think I’m recommending everyone go and turn this feature on.
As with all things Facebook ads, I think you should at least consider testing it against your normal campaigns.
As Facebook advertising costs continue to get more and more expensive, it’s important to keep testing any and all things that could potentially help reduce your costs.