Facebook’s Looka­like Audi­ences have long been a favorite ad tar­get­ing tool for adver­tis­ers, allow­ing mar­keters to use Cus­tom Audi­ence lists to find like-mind­ed users on the plat­form. Adver­tis­ers can select their Looka­like Audi­ence size from 1% to 10% — the small­er the audi­ence size, the more close­ly the results will match the source list.

Many adver­tis­ers have relied on the laser-focused capa­bil­i­ty of 1% Looka­like Audi­ences since the launch of the ad tar­get­ing tool all the way back in 2013, but some are no longer see­ing the results they once expe­ri­enced.

What’s happening with 1% Lookalike Audiences?

“We have used 1% Looka­like audi­ences since it has been avail­able, and we were pret­ty hap­py with the results,” said Pierre-Olivi­er Car­les, CEO of the social media mar­ket­ing agency Digidust. Car­les said his agency’s best cam­paigns were based on Pix­els’ data rather email data­bas­es or FB Pages audi­ences.

“The beau­ty of the 1% Looka­like tar­get­ing was to help us reach the right peo­ple even when the demo­graph­ics were not obvi­ous,” said Car­les, “We don’t feel it works any­more unless you can build that audi­ence on the Pix­el — but in that case, your web­site has to pro­vide enough traf­fic to make it accu­rate, espe­cial­ly as you don’t want to base that Looka­like Audi­ence on old­er vis­its to keep pace with your mar­ket.”

Gil David, a Face­book ads spe­cial­ist and founder of Run DMG, said he’s noticed a drop in results dur­ing the past three to four months.

“Looka­like per­for­mance dipped some­what after Face­book stopped using third-par­ty data for a while last year, but began to return a few months after,” said David. “How­ev­er, now 2% and 3% Looka­like Audi­ences seem to be the best and I’ve also had high­er — 4% and 7% — doing well in some accounts.”

Is 2%+ the new sweet spot?

David said the 2% and 3% audi­ence size seem to be opti­mal for the cam­paigns he’s man­ag­ing right now. He also has found suc­cess lay­er­ing two dif­fer­ent 1% Looka­like Audi­ence lists on top of each oth­er.

“I would always con­tin­ue to test 1% Looka­like Audi­ences because, with the way Face­book ads are, they could sud­den­ly make a come­back, but I’m much more like­ly to start off with 2%+ now or lay­er­ing two 1% lists on top of each oth­er,” said David.

Car­les said his agency used to test the broad­er Looka­like Audi­ence ranges, but nev­er got the results they want­ed. He plans to keep using the 1% Looka­like tar­get­ing, but only when the prod­ucts or mes­sag­ing is high­ly spe­cif­ic.

“For exam­ple, we work with a chain of restau­rants, and our goal is not to build brand aware­ness but to bring more peo­ple to each of their loca­tions. In that par­tic­u­lar case, the 1% Looka­like Audi­ence that we base on their email data­bas­es works fine when we nar­row it based on the loca­tion of the restau­rants,” said Car­les.

Too popular or not enough privacy?

David believes the lack of results hap­pen­ing with 1% Looka­like Audi­ences is the out­come of the ad tar­get­ing tool being pro­mot­ed as a type of “hack” for adver­tis­ers new to the plat­form who assume 1% audi­ences will auto­mat­i­cal­ly per­form bet­ter — which leads to more crowd­ed 1% audi­ence pools.

“There has also been a gen­er­al trend of broad­er audi­ences per­form­ing bet­ter, these would gen­er­al­ly start off with a larg­er size than the stan­dard 2.1 mil­lion peo­ple in a U.S. 1% Looka­like Audi­ence — so that would also have an impact too,” said David.

Car­les see it as part of a big­ger trend and a clear sign of what’s to come in terms of Face­book adver­tis­ing.

“Many indus­tries — like pol­i­tics or real estate — now have spe­cif­ic terms of use to pro­tect people’s pri­va­cy, and I guess Face­book has updat­ed its algo­rithms for Looka­like Audi­ences to take that trend into account. I think we will see these restric­tions increase in the future,” said Car­les.

He points out the para­dox Face­book adver­tis­ers are cur­rent­ly faced with — that the plat­form has more data than ever, but it’s no longer avail­able to mar­keters. “I am not say­ing it is bad — and pri­va­cy def­i­nite­ly mat­ters — but it’s a fact.”

Not the end, just a new beginning

Car­les doesn’t believe 1% Looka­like Audi­ences will pick back up.

“More busi­ness­es are run­ning more cam­paigns, and the real estate in users’ time­lines, Sto­ries, Mes­sen­ger, etc. is not an infi­nite resource and can be quick­ly sat­u­rat­ed,” said Car­les.

On top of a sat­u­rat­ed mar­ket, there is also the com­ing ‘Clear His­to­ry’ tool which lets users dis­con­nect their off-Face­book activ­i­ty from their pro­file, poten­tial­ly lim­it­ing the amount of ad tar­get­ing data avail­able and impact­ing Looka­like Audi­ences of all sizes.

The big­ger pic­ture here is that Face­book is under­go­ing major shifts that will impact mar­keters who have long relied the platform’s unpar­al­leled ad tar­get­ing capa­bil­i­ties. The dimin­ish­ing returns adver­tis­ers are see­ing from 1% Looka­like Audi­ences may just be the tip of the ice­berg as the com­pa­ny tran­si­tions to a pri­va­cy-focused mes­sag­ing plat­form.

Mar­keters may feel like they are com­ing to the end of an era in terms of Facebook’s ad tar­get­ing gold­mine, but the con­se­quences of hav­ing access to such a gold­mine have come at a cost in terms of user pri­va­cy and data secu­ri­ty. Con­sumers are grow­ing weary of social plat­forms as they become more aware of how their infor­ma­tion is col­lect­ed and how it used for ad tar­get­ing pur­pos­es — a shift that could sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact their online behav­ior and how they engage with brands. These changes in cam­paign results may not be “the end” of ad tar­get­ing — but poten­tial­ly mark a new begin­ning for brands and how they build rela­tion­ships with their audi­ences.

The post Adver­tis­ers see­ing dwin­dling results with Facebook’s 1% Looka­like Audi­ences appeared first on Mar­ket­ing Land.

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