open targeting facebook ads

Open Targeting: The Big Facebook Ads Debate

If you’ve ever set up a Facebook ads campaign or watched YouTube videos about Facebook marketing or even just spoken to anyone about online advertising, then you’ll know that setting up your targeting correctly is a pretty big deal….

Or is it?

What if I told you that targeting isn’t as important as you think it is if you fall into any of these four categories which in theory means that you don’t need to worry about targeting anymore.

4 times you should use open targeting.

You can then put that energy into crafting better offers and coming up with better and creative ways of doing whatever it is that you want to do with that time that you’ve saved.

Pretty awesome, right?

Now… before I get into whether or not YOUR business should use open targeting, I need to explain what open targeting is now.

What is Open Targeting?

Open targeting refers to not using any specific targeting options when setting up Facebook ad campaigns. You don’t add in any interests, behaviors, demographics – just target everyone within your chosen location and age range. 

This results in the broadest, most open audience possible.

The logic is that Meta has become a lot more sophisticated as an advertising platform. The platform itself is so much better now than it used to be at working out exactly who to put your ads in front of for the highest chance at conversions.

A lot of times Facebook will be better than you at figuring out who will be converting on your offer. When you select a specific interest you could potentially be missing out on all the people who might convert who are not in that interest group.

interest targeting vs. open targeting

Limiting your audience too much can cause you to miss potential customers not captured by your specific targeting.

The Downsides of Avoiding Retargeting

Some proponents of open targeting believe you should only use open targeting and no retargeting. The basic idea is that Facebook knows who you should show your ad to again and who you shouldn’t. 

This is the more extreme view and it’s one that I don’t agree with.

My agency uses open targeting extensively. However, retargeting remains important for scenarios like re-engaging those who added items to cart.

If you don’t retarget people then how can you offer them a special discount or other special offer to people who add to cart but don’t buy?

add tp cart - retargeting option

It’s also important to use retargeting in businesses with higher priced services. If you have higher priced services then you can deploy the omnipresent content strategy that lets you get in front of people with a variety of ads that show them that you are:

  • The expert
  • Can deliver results
  • Are trustworthy
  • And show them case studies

To use this strategy effectively you will NEED to use retargeting.

Resource: You can learn more about how omnipresent content strategies keep your business in front of customers here.

To me avoiding retargeting altogether seems to be taking open targeting too far. In our agency we often test open targeting AND use retargeting together.

When Does Open Targeting Perform Best?

There are scenarios where open targeting has traditionally performed better than interest targeting or using retargeting audiences – although you should always test to get the best results.

Mature ad accounts with decent conversion data tend to see better performance from open targeting, since Facebook has more data to work with in order to know what kind of people respond the best to YOUR business and YOUR offers.

Open targeting also works well for broad appeal products/services, local businesses, and smaller population countries where specific targeting overly narrows the audience.

For instance, if you are advertising in a country like Ireland that only has five million people, narrowing your audience with interest targeting can give you too few options.

small countries often work better with open targeting.

On the other hand, if you have a very narrow offer, like dog training for Springer Spaniels, then open targeting may not get you the best results.

But these are just guidelines, AI is developing quickly and Facebook’s ability to find your audience with open targeting is getting better all the time.

But these are just guidelines, AI is developing quickly and Facebook’s ability to find your audience with open targeting is getting better all the time.

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:

Lowering Barriers to Entry

As Facebook’s AI improves, open targeting is working better even for newer ad accounts and more niche products/services.

We are testing open targeting more and more in our agency and finding that it often (but not always) outperforms interest targeting.

The criteria to use it successfully keeps lowering over time. For most businesses open targeting is  worth testing as an option.

Give Open Targeting Time to Optimize

It’s important to note that open targeting can take longer to optimize than more specific targeting. You’ll want to run tests for at least a couple weeks before assessing performance.

The larger your daily testing budget the shorter your tests can be.

Remember that Facebook works off of the conversion data in YOUR account. That means the more conversions you have, the faster you can optimize your account.

The good news here is that because open targeting audiences are SO MUCH BIGGER than interest targeting or lookalike audiences that once you get your ad optimized it will often successfully run for a longer period of time.

The Targeting Landscape is Always Changing

Make sure to keep up with ongoing changes to Facebook’s targeting options.

Currently they are introducing a “hybrid” middle ground between open and detailed targeting. This one is really interesting and we will keep an eye on it as it rolls out to see if it gives us beter results.

Regularly re-test open targeting as its viability continues improving, but keep an eye on new targeting developments too. The Meta technology is always changing and it’s important that you keep up with it in order to get the best results for your business.