Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Website Visitors, Fans and Conversions

New Facebook Lookalike Audiences WCA Fans

[AUDIO VERSION: I also recorded an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen. Let me know if this is something you find helpful!]

Facebook announced expanded capabilities for Lookalike Audiences so that you can target even more users who are similar to those closest to your brand.

Let’s take a closer look at the following:

  • What Are Lookalike Audiences?
  • Lookalikes of the Past
  • Lookalikes for Website Visitors
  • Lookalikes for Conversion Pixels
  • Lookalikes for Pages
  • Lookalikes for Mobile App Users
  • How to Create
  • How to Target

What Are Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike Audiences have been around since March 19, 2013. They allow advertisers to target Facebook users who are similar to their customers away from Facebook.

Advertisers could ask Facebook to find the top 1% (optimize for similarity) or 5% (optimize for greater reach) of users in a specific country who were similar to their customers.

This is great for expanding the net since small customer lists of 1,000 people could often be turned into Lookalike Audience targeting capabilities exceeding 1 Million users.

Lookalikes of the Past

In the past, this was a two-step process:

  1. Create a Custom Audience
  2. Create a Lookalike Audience from that Custom Audience

In the vast majority of cases, marketers were uploading an email list to create that Custom Audience. Facebook would match up those email addresses to actual Facebook users to allow advertisers to target them in ads.

Advertisers could then turn around and ask Facebook to find users similar to those on that list. While email lists were most common, this could also be done with lists of phone numbers and UIDs.

Lookalikes for Website Visitors

Back in January, Facebook launched Website Custom Audiences. This amazing feature allows advertisers to target visitors to their websites. This includes any general visitor as well as visitors to specific pages.

Soon after, Facebook briefly made Lookalike Audiences available for WCAs. But that period of time was very short-lived. Until now.

This is great news on several levels.

First, you can find users similar to any visitor to your website. If you don’t get much traffic, this will allow you to target relevant users while expanding the net from what was otherwise a very small group of people.

Second, you can find users similar to those who visited a specific page of your site. You could use the success page following a conversion, for example, as your basis for a Lookalike Audience. So Facebook would then find users similar to those who bought a particular product (though that will come up again shortly).

Finally, you can find users similar to those who visited a specific section of your site. For this to work, the URL structure needs to include that category within it — or visitors need to be guided to specific landing pages when looking for product types.

An example would be visitors to a retail website that sells men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, hats and bags. It’s important that Website Custom Audiences be created for visitors to each individual section so that they — or their Lookalikes — can be targeted on Facebook.

Lookalikes for Conversion Pixels

Facebook now also allows advertisers to generate Lookalike Audiences for a specific Conversion Pixel. This would allow marketers to target users similar to those who converted (sale, registration, lead, etc.).

Keep in mind that this can essentially be done via WCA Lookalike Audiences, too. There has actually been talk of merging conversion pixels and Website Custom Audiences, and here is an example of why that may be necessary.

Regardless, a dynamic way to target Facebook users similar to those who have bought from us is an important development. While you could target a Lookalike Audience based on email addresses of customers in the past, that email list was not dynamic.

Lookalikes for Pages

Quite possibly the most interesting development of all. Advertisers can now generate a Lookalike Audience of pages within their control so that they can target users similar to their own fans.

[NOTE: No, you cannot create Lookalike Audiences of pages outside of your control.]

This will be very helpful for brands looking to grow, but lacking substantial traffic or an email list.

Lookalikes for Mobile App Users

Finally, advertisers now have the option of generating a Lookalike Audience of users who currently use their mobile apps.

Mobile App Custom Audiences are relatively new (they came out along with Website Custom Audiences) and allow marketers to retarget those who make specific actions within their apps.

Now they’ll be able to target users similar to those who make these actions.

How to Create the New Lookalike Audiences

First, click the Ad Tools drop-down at the top right of Power Editor and select “Audiences.”

Facebook Power Editor Ad Tools Audiences

Next, click the Create Audience drop-down at the top left and select “Lookalike Audience.”

Facebook Power Editor Create Audience Lookalike

That will give you a dialog that looks like this…

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience

Within the “Source” text box, you can select a page that you control…

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience Page

…a Custom Audience (including a Website Custom Audience or Mobile App Custom Audience)…

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience WCA

…or Conversion Pixel.

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience Conversion Pixel

You will then need to select a country (your native country is chosen by default). Note that you can only generate one Lookalike Audience per country at a time. But you can create as many as you want if you want lookalikes for other countries.

Finally, use the slider to determine whether you want to optimize for Similarity or Reach. In the past, Facebook only gave you the option of one or the other. Now you can pick your audience size.

When I keep the slider furthest to the left on Similarity, I can generate a Lookalike Audience for my page of 2.3 Million people…

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience Similarity

When I move that slider all the way to the right to optimize for the greatest Reach, that potential Lookalike Audience expands to 23 Million…

Facebook Power Editor Create Lookalike Audience Reach

Once you click the “Create Audience” button, Facebook will start building your audience. Expect it to take 6-24 hours to complete.

How to Target Lookalike Audiences

Once that Lookalike Audience is ready, you can target it in your ads.

This is done within the Custom Audiences text field of the “Audience” step of ad creation…

Facebook Power Editor Target Lookalike Audience

You can also exclude Lookalike Audiences.

Your Turn

Have you started creating these types of Lookalike Audiences yet? What results are you seeing?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/author/jannette/ Jannette Pazer

    Hi Jon, thanks for the post. I’m still learning about Facebook ads and I’m trying the use of pixels for the first time. I created a conversion pixel, but can’t create a custom lookalike audience based on it because the target audience is too small. Is this only temporary since I just installed the pixel? On the other hand, I was allowed to create a custom audience which created different pixel code for retargeting despite the small audience. So now I have two pixels, one only shows up in the Conversion Tracking list (with only 2 actions) and one only shows up in the Custom Audiences list (with 60 users) – they have different ID numbers. Do they behave differently? Why can’t I use one pixel for both? I don’t know which one I should install on the website. I find the Facebook configuration interface very confusing. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • Matthew M

    I’m doing some testing on this, specifically testing a lookalike audience that is comparable (according to FB) to ppl who opt in via a squeeze page. Not very good results so far but still early.

  • Joe Kwok

    Thanks Jon! To generate lookalike audience, Facebook needs at least 100 in the seed audience. However, what’s the better minimum so that the lookalike audience that’s generated is more relevant? Thanks!

  • Omar

    Hi, Quick question – I have a look like audience which is overlarge made up of three countries – should i use the interests section to get more specific ? or would that defeat the point of haveing the look like audience.

  • Ed

    Do we need to pay for this feature? If so how much is it cost?

  • michael_wei

    I realize this is an older article not sure if I’d get a response but my question is:

    If you are using Lookalike audience from the fan page and select an interest group that where your ads have already targeted this audience does this not target the same person? Is this the correct method of how to target with the Lookalike audience should be further segmented?

    • http://thewebbakery.co.uk Emma Davis

      If I am understanding your question correctly, all you need to do is exclude people who already like your page (can’t remember where you do that, but it is there somewhere)

      • michael_wei

        You’re right! However I can only exclude my page. If I have existing ads that are running against other fan pages it doesn’t look like I can exclude those from the lookalike. Not sure if this might be a limitation or whether I there is a way to further segment and exclude people from there as well. My goal is to try and get as targeted as possible my 2.5MM potential reach down to a smaller number. =)

  • Albert

    I created lookalike audience from conversion pixel. Let’s say the conversion pixel’s name is “A”.

    I have been using the Lookalike Audience for two weeks (I still use the same pixel A) and got a good amount of sales. This means that my conversion pixel A is updated because of the additional sales.

    I assume that: If i create another lookalike audience from this updated pixel, I will have a more updated (more targeted) lookalike audience.

    My questions is: “Do I need to manually create a new & better lookalike audience from updated pixel A?”


    “Is my lookalike audience automatically updated as the pixel A is updated?” (because when I check my lookalike audience: It is stated “Last updated 02/03/2015″, so I assume it is automatically updated)

  • Harish

    Excellent article.

  • thomas13493687

    If you create a lookalike audience for a page with a small number of fans (less than 200) but the posts get thousands of comments (from a newsfeed ad) will the lookalike audience be created from the small number of fans (or likes) or from the much larger number of people who comment on the posts on that page? I ask because I have a page with a small number of fans, but I have posts with thousands of likes and shares and hundreds of comments

  • Aurelle Noutahi

    I love your article. :) Easy to read and so helpful!!

  • Lawrence Pickup

    Sorry Jon, what do you mean by “dynamic” in this instance?

  • John John Genovese