best audience size for facebook ads

The BEST Audience size for Facebook Ads

Meta has recently released new recommendations when it comes to the ideal Facebook ads audience size and it might surprise you!

This is good news because Meta usually isn’t super clear about their recommendations and this recommendation is super clear. I also think this represents a big Facebook ads targeting change and we will need to adjust our approach as advertisers to accommodate this and get the best possible results. Meta is always making changes and you either keep up or fall behind. Let’s get started on these changes!

What Meta is Saying Now

What Meta is saying about audience size

The new Meta recommendations are somewhat different than what I’ve recommended before. You can find them in the documentation that is trying to convince advertisers to use broad targeting.

This documentation even shows you some reasons why Meta is recommending broad targeting – like achieving a lower cost per action. Of course, everyone who advertises wants to achieve a lower cost per action, so this is an exciting possibility.

Broad targeting can reduce CPA

Facebook has been pushing broad targeting for a while now, and that is simply where you are not including any detailed targeting in your ad set – like interests, demographics, or lookalikes that narrow down your audience. Instead you are only using a geographic targeting option and leaving everything else open. It’s actually a very straightforward way to use the platform.

Then you will see on this page that Meta wants you to set your audience size to 2 million or more.  This is a very large increase from what was considered best practice even a few years ago.

Meta recommends audience size of 2 million or more.

What I Used to Say About Audience Size

With very few exceptions, I used to say that you should never go below an audience size of 500,000 people. And I’ve been more concerned about having too small of an audience rather than too large of an audience. That means that I’ve often targeted much larger audiences by default.

However Facebook is really increasing the size recommendation now. 2 million is a much larger audience size than anything I’ve recommended as a minimum before and I that reflects the revolution in machine learning that we are seeing now.

Why Facebook Is Increasing Its Recommendation to 2 Million

Facebook’s machine learning has gotten better and better over the years. By having a larger audience size you can help their delivery system advertise more flexibly and work out who within that audience is the best to advertise to and what time of day to advertise with fewer restrictions. Basically, you are putting fewer restrictions on Meta and allowing the machine learning the most freedom possible to get you the best possible results.

Larger audiences give more flexibility

This can help Facebook deliver a lower cost per action for your campaign over time. Larger audiences also typically result in more campaign stability.

There is another reason for this recommendation that Meta isn’t putting on its page, but that you need to also think about.

If all advertisers went to board targeting  then Meta would have far more ability to fill all of the open spots in its ad inventory. Remember, ads are how Facebook makes it’s money and the more ad slots that are filled the more money the platform makes. 

When advertisers are more specific with their placement, Meta can’t fill all of those ad spots, which means it doesn’t make as much money.

So as an advertiser you always need to think about the motivations of the platform you are working on.

Sometimes Meta makes suggestions that are just better for Meta and you have to watch for that, but in this case I think that the suggestion for larger audiences is better for both Meta and the advertisers. 

Another Change Facebook Has Made to Audience Size Reporting

A change to audience size reporting

There is another change that Facebook has made to audience size reporting that you should also be aware of. 

Facebook used to estimate the audience size based on everyone that was on the platform. Now they estimate audience size based on who has seen an ad for the last 30 days.

I like this measurement better because it gives you a much more accurate view of the audience size for your specific ad. After all, there are plenty of inactive people on Facebook and you can’t sell them anything if they aren’t looking at your ad. 

Make Sure Your Audience Makes Sense for Your Business

Make sure your audience size makes sense for your business

Even with this recommendation of a larger audience size, I want to point out that Facebook is also saying to target the widest possible audience that is best for your business.

For example, if you own a salon in a small town and the population around you that you can actually service is 50,000 people then you don’t want to send your ads to 2 million people. You can’t provide those services in your market. 

In this situation what you do want to test is setting your geographic location with no other targets and let Facebook work out who will be the most likely to book with you.

You can still go broad, but within your specific service area.

You may also have a national business, but want to test a specific interest. As long as that interest is fairly large, go ahead and test. 

The important message here is to do what makes sense for your specific business and be open to testing because that’s how you find what works best for YOUR business.

Another Awesome Free Facebook Training Resource

There is nothing I like better than to see business owners increase their ROI with Facebook Ads. In order to help business owners succeed with Facebook ads I’ve created a FREE webinar training that you can register for here.

Free Facebook ads training

When you attend this webinar you’ll learn:

3 different Facebook ad strategies that we use every day. These strategies have generated millions of dollars in revenue and are tried and proven to work.

How to customize the Facebook ads strategy to your particular business. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to Facebook ads.

How Facebook and Instagram have changed and how to adjust your ad strategy to what works in 2024

What I Recommend Going Forward

We’ve tested broad audiences a lot in my agency and we’ve seen some very good results. However, not all businesses are the same and not all ad accounts are the same so the approach going forward that I would recommend is broadening your audience where possible and testing new approaches.

To illustrate this, I did a survey recently asking people what the best targeting option was in their business and the results were interesting. Open targeting (broad targeting) won most of the time, but not by 90% or anything even close to that.

The breakdown was:

  • 45% Open
  • 34% Detailed
  • 21% Lookalike 
Audience survey results

This is a big deal because it means that as much as it would be nice, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to targeting.

What I say, based on my experience, is to test broad targeting and other options as well and see what works best for you. But with all of the options larger audiences tend to perform better over time than smaller audiences. So going broader even with interest targeting is usually a good idea.

Overall, these changes to the Meta advertising system are exciting. They mean that generally Meta is getting better at working out who to show your ads to to get the results you want.