Audiences Overview

Audience targeting helps you show your ads to the people you care about. There are two general approaches you can take when creating a target audience:

  • Specific — You set a relatively strict set of parameters, and we create an audience within those parameters. This approach includes Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and Dynamic Audiences.
  • Broad — You rely on our delivery system to find the best people to show your ad to. Provide basic restrictions, such as demographics or location, and we deliver ads to people who meet those attributes.

This document provides an overview of the audience targeting options offered by the Marketing API.

Custom Audiences

A Custom Audience is an option that lets you create your own audience from a set of different sources, including customer lists, website or app traffic, and engagement on Facebook.

Some audiences may require that you create audience rules to determine whether someone should be added your Custom Audience.

Custom Audience Types

Customer File Custom Audiences

Build target Custom Audiences from customer information. This includes email addresses, phone numbers, names, dates of birth, gender, locations, App User IDs, Page Scoped User IDs, Apple's Advertising Identifier (IDFA), or Android Advertising ID.

Engagement Custom Audiences

Build audiences based on people who engaged with your content on Facebook or Instagram. Currently supported audience types include Page, Instagram business profile, Lead ad, and Instant Experiences ad.

Mobile App Custom Audiences

Build audiences based on peoples' actions in your app that meet your criteria. This solution uses logged named events through our Facebook SDKs, App Events API, or via Mobile Measurement Partners.

Website Custom Audiences

Create Custom Audiences of users who visited or took specific actions on your website using Facebook Pixel, JavaScript Tag API, and audience rules. Once you create a Custom Audience with website data, reference it in ad targeting as you do with standard Custom Audiences.

Offline Custom Audiences

Group people who visited your store, made calls to your customer service, or took action offline together and target them with Facebook ads. Custom Audiences from Offline Conversions are based on conversion events uploaded to an Offline Event Set.

Dynamic Audiences

Dynamic Ads enables you to show people ads based on their cross-device purchasing intent. You can collect signals of user intent from mobile apps and websites then use this data to build an audience for targeting prospective customers.

Lookalike Audiences

Target people most like your already established customers. Lookalike audiences take several sets of people as "seeds" then Facebook builds an audience of similar people. You can use lookalikes for any business objective — targeting people similar your customers for fan acquisition, site registration, off-Facebook purchases, coupon claims, or simply to drive awareness of a brand.

Sharing a Custom Audience

You may choose to share your Custom Audience with another business, such as a partner managing and running your ads. There are specific requirements and APIs you should follow when doing so. Learn more about Business-to-Business Functions.

Custom Audiences Deletion

For all advertisers beginning June 8, 2021 and going forward, we will automatically be moving audiences to the “Expiring Audience” stage once they have been inactive for over two years. This means that once an audience meets the threshold of not being used in an active ad set for over two years, it will be automatically flagged as an “Expiring Audience”, and the delete_time field will be marked with the estimated deletion time (i.e., 90 days from the time of flagging) when the audience is scheduled to be deleted.

You will then be able to either proactively delete the audience or use the audience in an active ad set to prevent deletion. You can see which of your audiences are in the expiring stage at any time by filtering on their operation_status or delete_time fields.

For Customer List Custom Audiences, specifically, you will need to provide us with your instructions before we take any action. Once audiences are moved to the “Expiring Audience” stage and flagged, you will need to provide your instructions by either using the flagged audience in an active ad set, which we will consider an instruction to retain the audience, or by deciding not to use the flagged audience in an active ad set, which we will consider an instruction to delete the audience.

Custom Audience

Endpoint: GET /{CUSTOM_AUDIENCE_ID}

The operation_status field of custom audiences now has an EXPIRING status option that will be added to audiences that have not been used in an active ad set the last 2 years. When an audience has been marked as expiring, the delete_time field tells you when the audience will be deleted.

Example Response

delete_time: 1620543600 // Unix time in secs for 9 May 2021
operation_status: {
  “status”: 100
  “description”: "If an audience hasn't been used in an active ad set for over 2 years, it will begin to expire. Expiring audiences that remain unused for 90 days will be deleted."
}

Ad Account

Endpoint: GET /act_{AD_ACCOUNT_ID]/customaudiences

You can now filter custom audiences to see those that have an operation_status of EXPIRING or those that have a delete_time indicating the audience will be deleted soon. These new filters will return the audience IDs.

Example Requests

GET /act_217284683/customaudiences?filtering=[{"field":"delete_time","operator":"GREATER_THAN","value":0}]
 
GET /act_217284683/customaudiences?filtering=[{"field":"operation_status.code","operator":"IN","value":[100]}]

Endpoint: GET /act_{AD_ACCOUNT_ID}/saved_audiences

You can now filter saved audiences by delete_time to see those that will be deleted soon. This filter returns the audience IDs.

Example Request

GET /act_217284683/saved_audiences?filtering=[{"field":"delete_time","operator":"GREATER_THAN","value":0}]

Saved Audiences

Endpoint: GET /{SAVED_AUDIENCE_ID}

The operation_status field for saved audiences now has an EXPIRING status option that will be added to audiences that have not been used in an active ad set the last 2 years. When an audience has been marked as expiring, the delete_time field tells you when the audience will be deleted.

Example Response

delete_time: 1620543600 // Unix time in secs for 9 May 2021
operation_status: {
  "status": 100
  "description": "If an audience hasn't been used in an active ad set for over 2 years, it will begin to expire. Expiring audiences that remain unused for 90 days will be deleted."
}

FAQ

Any Custom Audience, Lookalike Audience, or Saved Audience which has not been used in any active ad sets in over two years will be included in this update. Note: This is a rolling change going forward.

If you do not wish for the identified audiences to be deleted, you will be required to include the audiences marked as “Expiring Audience” in an active ad set prior to the deletion date shown in the delete_time field, which is 90 days after the audience is flagged, to keep it from being deleted.

For Customer List Custom Audiences, specifically, you will need to provide us with your instructions by either using the flagged audience in an active ad set, which we will consider an instruction to retain the audience, or by deciding not to use the flagged audience in an active ad set, which we will consider an instruction to delete the audience.

The system will automatically delete the audience that has had an EXPIRING status for more than 90 days.

Targeting

Targeting Specs are ad set attributes that define who sees an ad. Basic or core targeting includes:

Typically, you get data to define targeting from a Targeting Search, then specify options in a Targeting Spec. You must specify at least one country in targeting, unless you use Custom Audiences.

Advertisers running housing, employment and credit ads, who are based in the United States or running ads targeted to the United States have different sets of restrictions. See Special Ad Category.