SocialHow to Use Facebook Custom Audiences

How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences

Facebook has just handed us an extremely powerful advertising option to target by email, phone number, and user IDs. Your options are limited only by your creativity. Here's a walk through Facebook's newly released Custom Audiences targeting.

facebook-custom-audiencesAs amazing as Facebook can be for an advertising and audience engagement platform, one thing they are just downright horrible at is letting people know about and understanding changes to their system. From a user perspective, this might affect a privacy setting or a change to the UI, while on the advertising side of things it usually has to do with a new feature or targeting method that most people never even hear about.

Last month, Miranda Miller let us know about the quiet launching of Sponsored Search Ads and today we’re going to take a walk through Facebook’s newly released Custom Audiences targeting.

What are custom audiences in Facebook? In short, these are a series of new targeting options that let you target ads to people based upon:

  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Facebook user IDs

If you just read that and didn’t start drooling all over yourself and the broad reaching options that just opened up, you probably shouldn’t be doing search marketing. Please kindly step away from the Internet.

It’s long been said that building your “list” can be your most important online marketing tool. This list usually refers to a contact list, most specifically, emails that will allow you to effectively market through that channel.

Facebook has now just made your list that much more powerful. There are a number of ways to build your list in both white and black hat fashions so I’ll leave the creativity and moral decisions up to you.

Instead let’s look at how to set up a Custom Audience and Target that ad in Facebook.

Currently, Custom Audiences are only able to be set up in Power Editor. So fire that up and download the current account that you’d like to set up an audience for.

You’ll find a new Tab in between Page Posts and Funding Sources. This will bring up the ToS. Once you read that, and I’m sure you will, Accept the Terms and you’ll move on to setup.


(Note: You will only be able to Read and Accept the Terms if you are the Administrator on the advertising account, meaning, the person who set up the ad account. If you are not, you will have to get them to complete this first step.)

After this, you will be prompted with a screen that allows you to create your first audience from the three different targeting options mentioned above. You will name your audience and then upload your contact info in bulk. Files can be uploaded in CSV or Plain Text with one entry per line. I’ve been using CSV and it’s worked flawlessly each time.


  • Emails must be provided as [email protected]
  • UID’s are numbers only, like “9876543”
  • Phone #’s must be numbers only and include both country and area codes, US example “13308675309”

After you upload your list, Facebook will work on scrubbing your list across its database to find matches in its system. It will give you a warning that this could take upwards of an hour depending on the size of the list that you import.

Lists process rather quickly but it can take several hours to fully propagate through their whole system. If you end up getting errors while setting up your ads, just wait and come back a few hours later.

Once your audience is created, you can add or exclude audiences to new or existing ads in Facebook through the Power Editor:


If you continue through Facebook Ads Manager, you will find your Custom Audiences listed below the Broad Categories in the Targeting Options. You can currently only add audiences through Ads Manager, not exclude but I imagine this will change in the coming months.


This is an extremely powerful advertising option that Facebook has just handed us. Your options are limited only by your creativity. Do you think this is a game changer?


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