Nano-Targeted Facebook Adverts: The Whats and Whys

Facebook advertisements, whether we’re looking at traditional adverts, promoted posts or the new video adverts that are rumored to be launching, are widely acknowledged as one of the best ways to reach your target audience through traditional, outbound means.

Of course, some companies have stopped using social advertisements, claiming that they’re ineffective or difficult to measure, and some others target adverts so badly that they’re completely irrelevant. My feed is a good example of this – I work in social media, so I’ve had to ‘like’ a huge number of pages that I normally wouldn’t go near. Looking for a twenty-something male who likes tights and make-up? Regrettably, I’m your man.

As with most forms of online advertisements, marketers tend to focus on a few key characteristics – for example, men in their forties who like golf. That’s because it gives you a wider target audience, meaning your spending limit is higher – you can keep on cranking up your budget until you reach a point where your advert is already being served to everyone who’s eligible.

facebook ads

Facebook and LinkedIn adverts also follow a similar bidding system to Google’s AdWords – if you’re not familiar with that, think of how eBay works. You enter the absolute maximum that you’re prepared to spend, and Facebook bids on your behalf up to (but not above!) your limit. Let’s say you place a bid of $2 per click, and your closest competition has bid $1.30 – you’ll only pay $1.31. In these circumstances, the larger your audience, the more opportunities you’ll have to bid at a lower level.

Now, that’s all well and good when you’re dealing with people en masse, but what if you want to reign in your targeting and focus on a specific group of people? While it’s not advisable for most campaigns, there are times when it can come in useful.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new job, and you know you want to work at a certain company. Wouldn’t it be great if you could target the decision-makers at that company? Luckily for you, you can – that’s where nano-targeting comes in.

Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen (Source:

I first discovered the concept in Likeable Social Media, a guide to social media marketing that was written by Dave Kerpen, a former reality TV star and former CEO of Likeable Media, a New York City based social media marketing firm. In his book, Dave describes how he and his wife used to exchange messages via Facebook adverts by perfecting the targeting – using information like her hometown, her age, her employer and her gender, he could ensure that she was the only Facebook user who could possibly be served the advertisement.

Coming back to the ‘new job’ example, Dave has actually found himself targeted by hopeful employees who’ve read his book and who wanted to join the company. It worked, too – he ended up hiring them.

Of course, nano-targeting can be used for more immoral purposes – for example, you could target employees of a competitor, enticing their talent away from them. You can even import e-mail lists and advertise only to people who have opted in to receive communications from you – take this approach, and bid for impressions instead of clicks, and you might find that the return on investment is phenomenal.

create audience on facebook


Nano-targeting as a concept is yet to reach the mainstream, with most advertisers focusing on quantity rather than quality, but used imaginatively it can be a great tool for reaching key influencers in your industry.

The trick is to think outside the box – for example, let’s say you’re pitching for a potential client. Why not target employees of the company in the hope that they’ll remember your brand and know all about you by the time that you arrive on the day? The potential uses of nano-targeting are almost limitless, and we’re sure to see some creative new uses of it as the concept starts to take on.

Have you ever tried nano-targeting with social advertisements? If so, how did you get on? Let us know with a comment!

Author Bio: Dane Cobain is a social media specialist at fst the Group, a UK-based creative agency. When he’s not creating campaigns at work, he’s reviewing books at home on his book review site.

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