best facebook ads targeting option

The BEST Facebook Ads Targeting Option

I recently polled my YouTube audience and I asked them, “Which cold targeting option produces the best results for you?”

Survey for targeting options

I had 1,300 people who are really into running Facebook ads, many of who have high ad spends, answer this question. The results were very interesting.

I’m going to show you what the results mean and how they differ from what we are seeing in our agency. It will give you some good insight into what might work for you.

I’m only talking about cold audiences here, not warm audiences. I gave three different cold audience types as an option: broad targeting, open targeting, and lookalike audiences. A lot of people think that lookalike audiences are warm audiences, but they aren’t. They are bases on warm audiences, but lookalike audiences are actually cold audiences.

Poll Results

Here are the results:

  • Open targeting – 44%
  • Detailed targeting – 34%
  • Lookalike audiences 21%
Facebook targeting options survey results

What I’m seeing right now is that a lot of Facebook ad gurus are saying that open targeting is the only way to go and that if you do anything else you’ll get worse results.

Based on this survey and what I’ve seen in our own agency, this isn’t true. It’s a broad overgeneralization that just won’t work for every business out there.

Is open targeting working? Yes! It is. In this survey about 44% of people find that open targeting gets them the very best results.

But it’s not the only thing that’s working. 56% of people that responded to this poll are seeing better results from other types of targeting. And this is why it’s SO IMPORTANT to test. It’s also a good reason to be skeptical of people who tell you that this particular “thing” is what always works for Facebook marketing.

In my experience I’ve rarely found just one thing to be the thing that works for Facebook marketing. A lot of what will work for you depends on the type of business that you’re in and the kind of offer that you’re making.

If you have a broad appeal product and lots of data in your ad account then broad targeting can work for you. If you don’ meet those two criteria then you will often find that one of the other options works better for you. You’ll notice from the chart above that a lot of people are STILL getting their best results from detailed targeting and lookalike audiences.

Ultimately you should be testing ALL THREE of these cold audience targeting types.

definitely worth a test

What Works Changes Over Time

The other thing that’s really obvious to me as someone that’s been involved in Facebook advertising for a decade now is that what type of cold audience you use changes a lot.

If you roll the clock back to 2019 and ask the same question the answer would probably be more like 70% of people saying that lookalike audiences were their best performing audiences.

Targeting options that work change over time

Let’s roll back the clock to 2015 and NO ONE would have been doing open targeting! That would have been considered crazy at that point.

This is also likely to change in the future. You need to be willing to adjust with the times and stay up to date with what’s working now, because as you can see things really do shift over time.

More Free Facebook Ads Training

I’ll get to the other myths of Facebook advertising in a moment, but first I want you to know about a FREE resource that I’ve put together that can really help.

To help business owners succeed with Facebook ads I’ve created a FREE webinar training that you can register for here.

Facebook ad webinar

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 2021.

What Targeting Works Best for Our Clients

When we take a look at what works best for our clients at we see a shift from the results from my audience.

Targeting options that work best for our agency

We are actually seeing a higher proportion of people who are getting their best results with open targeting – around 65% of our clients. We have 25% of people getting their best results from lookalike audiences and 10% of people getting great results from detailed targeting.

There’s quite a big difference between what we’re seeing as an agency and what my audience is seeing.

I think the difference can be explained like this…

Most businesses will start their ads on their own, scale up some, and then work with an agency like mine. As you sell more items, Facebook will gather more information in your account about what kind of people buy your things or fill out your form. This makes open targeting perform better.

More spend skews things more toward open targeting.

It’s also something that you should keep in mind as you scale. As your account gathers more data you may want to test with look a like audiences more often.

The higher percentage of lookalike audiences that are represented here also occurs for the same basic reason. Established businesses usually have more data to work with to create their custom audiences, so they can more effectively leverage lookalike audiences. The more data you put into the source, the better quality the lookalike audience is.

Resource: I actually think that lookalike audiences are underused and have put together a resource for you on how to successfully build and use a lookalike audience. How to Use Lookalike Audiences.

Video Tutorial – What Targeting Is Working Best in 2023

I’ve found that the targeting that is working best right now depends on the type of business and Facebook ad account that you have.

What Does All This Mean?

If you are relatively new to advertising and you have a new Facebook Ad account, then you may well see the best results when it comes to cold audience targeting with detailed targeting options like interests and behaviors. As you grow and generate more conversions you may want to shift to testing open audiences and test retargeting.

It’s one of the reason that so many people in the Facebook ads industry say that open targeting is the way to go. They are often working with established clients that have broad appeal marketing.

But if you have a new account and niche business open targeting isn’t likely to work for you. You’ll likely get traction easier early on with detailed targeting and lookalike audiences.

Remember, you’ll see the best results when you take your specific circumstances into account.