Facebook Ad Targeting Options

Last updated January 17, 2013

One aspect of Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories that separates it from other online marketing is the ways they allow you to target your market.

Instead of using cookies or keywords to target users, Facebook provides targeting options that allow advertisers to target users by the information they have provided on their profiles themselves.

Facebook allows you to target ads to people in the following ways:


  • Country
  • State/Province
  • City
  • Zip Code


  • 13-64+


  • Male, Female or All

Precise Interests

  • Drawn from users’ listed interests, activities, education and job titles, pages they like or groups to which they belong.

Broad Categories

  • Defined by what users are interested in, using terms people have shared in their Facebook profile

Connections and Friends of Connections

  • You can target people specifically connected to already you or even people not specifically connected to you

Interested In

  • Men, Women, or Both (Note: this is not separated by sexual orientation, simply the gender or genders users have stated as being interested in.)

Relationship Status

  • Single, In a Relationship, Married, Engaged, or All


  • Any of the 97 options Facebook currently offers.

Education and Workplace

  • Specific schools, graduating year, students, alumni, field of study as well as current and former employees

For example, if you are a music venue trying to sell tickets to an upcoming show, by adjusting the targeting options, you can create ads that target men interested in guitar between the ages 23-30 in the San Francisco area.

With Facebook users providing so much information about themselves, marketers can take advantage of this information through targeting options. It is a powerful tool that must be utilized in order to be successful when running Facebook Ads.

App Activity/Action Specs

Advertisers working with the Ads API or a third-party provider can also target users by the actions they take within applications. This option is still in beta, but could be a powerful means of targeting in the future.

For example, an advertiser could target people who have used a particular application, like Zynga’s Cityville or Spotify’s music streaming service. And now because of Open Graph verbs, advertisers can even target users by the specific actions they took with an app. For instance, reading a particular article in the Washington Post Social Reader, checking into a location on Foursquare, listening to an artist on Spotify, reaching a certain level in a game, or adding an item to a wishlist in an e-commerce app.

Technical details about this type of targeting are available from Facebook’s developer site. Because the option is in beta, it is expected to change over time. If you’re interested in this type of targeting, get in touch with a third-party vendor working with the Facebook Ads API.

Also From Inside Network: AppData | PageData | Inside Facebook | Inside Virtual Goods | Inside Social Games | Inside Mobile Apps

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