Website Custom Audiences: Target Visitors with Facebook Ads (Not FBX!)

Facebook Website Custom Audiences
[UPDATED May 28, 2014: Since Facebook updated the design a couple of times, an edit was necessary.]


I don’t recall the last time I was this excited about a new Facebook feature. Facebook has started rolling out Website Custom Audiences to all advertisers across Power Editor, Ads Manager and the ads API.

Here’s what I want you to know:

  • What Website Custom Audiences Are
  • How to Create a Website Custom Audience in Power Editor
  • How to Create a Website Custom Audience in Ads Manager
  • How to Create an Ad Using a Website Custom Audience
  • My Quick Test
  • Some Final Notes

[Tweet “Facebook is rolling out their most compelling ad product in some time: Website Custom Audiences.”]

What Are Website Custom Audiences?

Website Custom Audiences (known by the cool kids as WCA) allow you to create Facebook ads that target users who have previously visited your website.

Why is this awesome?

It’s one more way to reach an incredibly relevant audience. You can target fans organically. You can target your email list or other offline customers through Custom Audiences. And now you can reach people who may not be either an offline customer or a Facebook fan, but who visited your website.

Another very cool benefit is that you can isolate specific visitors within these Website Custom Audiences. So you can focus only on those who visited a specific page or section of your site, or those who visited pages that included a particular keyword in the URL.

The customization potential for such ads is incredible.

How They Are Different From FBX

If you’re an experienced Facebook advertiser, I know what you’re thinking: “But Jon. This sounds awfully familiar. Isn’t this FBX?”

FBX, you’ll recall, is another way to retarget your website visitors with Facebook ads. Yes, they are similar. But they are different. In my opinion, WCA is far better.

With FBX, you have to use an approved third party instead of building the ads through Power Editor or the self-serve ad tool. I’ve been recommending Perfect Audience and AdRoll.

And when you create FBX, it is a specific type of ad. It’s essentially a domain ad that can run either in the News Feed or sidebar. Tight restrictions on what you can do, and advertising isn’t connected to your page.

With Website Custom Audiences, you can create such ads within Power Editor and the self-serve ad tool. So first of all, this is much more convenient as it allows you to keep track of all advertising efforts in one place.

But the biggest advantage for WCA, in my opinion, is that you can create any ad the way you normally would, using the WCA you created as your targeted audience.

In other words, you can reach desktop News Feed, mobile or sidebar. You can promote an organic post or unpublished post. You can promote your page, event or app.

You have no limitations on what you can do. And you can also exclude these Website Custom Audiences for even more powerful targeting.

One final advantage is that we can plausibly assume that WCA will be cheaper than FBX. While FBX is plenty effective and affordable, the third parties need to take their cut. This is no longer necessary.

Facebook says that FBX still has a place, but it would appear to be for the bigger brands that want to set up liquid — or more dynamic — advertising. So this would apply to companies that want to set up dozens or hundreds of ads based on the specific page someone visits.

Still, one has to think that far fewer brands will be using FBX going forward. I know that I have very little use for it now.

How To Create a Website Custom Audience in Power Editor

On the left hand side, click on the “Manage Ads” drop-down and select Audiences.

Facebook Power Editor Manage Ads

Then click the “Create Audience” drop-down and select Custom Audience.

Facebook Power Editor Create Custom Audience

Next you’ll be given a dialog that looks like this…

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 2

You’ll want to click on “Custom Audience from your Website.”

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 3

You’ll then be asked to accept Facebook’s terms for Custom Audiences from your Website. You’ll want to do that.

That will bring up a dialog that looks like this…

Facebook Power Editor Create Website Custom Audience

A few notes…

Audience Name: Name your WCA something you’ll remember later. Make it descriptive of the audience you are going to target.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 5

Description: Not required, but you can add some more details here if you desire.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 6

Website Traffic: This is where you’ll tell Facebook how to target users based on the specific pages of your site that they visited. By default, Facebook will generate a Website Custom Audience of all website visitors, no matter what page they visited.

Facebook Website Custom Audience Traffic

But you can also target people who visited specific pages by toggling to “People visiting specific pages.”

Facebook Website Custom Audience Specific Pages

You can select URL, Domain or Path…

Facebook Website Custom Audience URL Domain Path

And then “Contains Any,” “Doesn’t Contain,” “Is Equal To” or “Is Not Equal To…”

Facebook Website Custom Audience Contains

You can enter either entire URLs, paths, domains, or keywords found within URLs, paths or domains. The door is clearly wide open for plenty of logic options.

However, the most common type of Website Custom Audience (other than for all visitors) will be for a specific page. For example, if I want to target only people who visited the landing page for my Power Editor training course, I’d use this:


If you add more keywords, Facebook will target anyone who visits any page that includes any of the keywords listed.

You can add “AND” logic by clicking the + button…

Facebook Website Custom Audience And Logic

That way, Facebook will create a Website Custom Audience consisting of anyone who satisfies both rules you create.

If Facebook would target such a person based on the link you provided, you’ll see a green checkmark. Otherwise, it will be a red “X.”

Next, you’ll want to click the “View Remarketing Pixel” if this is the first time you’ve created a Website Custom Audience.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 11

You’ll want to copy this to be used in the next step. Just in case, feel free to paste it to a text document for reference later.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 12

Know that if you can’t access it, you’ll use the same pixel for all future Website Custom Audiences (it only needs to be pasted once). So just create a new WCA to get the pixel.

Duration: By default, Facebook sets this to 30 days. This way, you will be targeting anyone who visited your website within the past 30 days. Obviously, that clock starts ticking the minute your pixel is live.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 13

Facebook allows you to use a duration of up to 180 days. What you use here should be related to the size of your potential audience. If you get really good traffic to the pages you are targeting, consider using shorter time periods to make the targeting more relevant.

Create a Website Custom Audience in Ads Manager

Within Ads Manager, click the “Audiences” link on the left.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 14

Then click the green “Create Audience” button at the top right.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 15

That will bring up this dialog again…

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 16

Everything from this point forward will be exactly the same as the steps within Power Editor. Refer to the passage above for details!

Install the Pixel

In the previous step, you copied the remarketing pixel. You’ll need that now!

Go into your website’s CMS. You will want to paste this code before the closing /HEADER tag of your website’s template.

I use WordPress and my site is built on Genesis Framework. As a result, I have a plugin called Genesis Simple Hooks that allows me to easily paste in code to go before that closing tag.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Step 17

If you aren’t on Genesis, you can surely find another plugin that will do the same thing. OpenHook is one to consider.

Facebook will now start building your audience as visitors to your website are cookied. Facebook will match up those visitors with actual Facebook users.

If you get a lot of traffic, this audience will build quickly. Otherwise, it will take some time. Around four hours after creating my Website Custom Audience, Facebook is showing that I could potentially reach 1,100 people with the WCA that would target all website visitors.

Facebook Website Custom Audience List in Power Editor

Click the “Check Updates” button within Power Editor (or refresh Ads Manager) periodically if you’re impatient!

How to Create an Ad Using Website Custom Audiences

Using Website Custom Audiences is a snap. If you’ve ever used Custom Audiences before, you know the drill.

From the Advanced link of Audience during the ad creation process in Power Editor, you’ll be able to enter your Custom Audiences.

Facebook Website Custom Audiences Create Ad

You can also exclude any Custom Audience as well, whether WCA or otherwise.

My Ad

I wanted to test this out immediately. So I created a really basic ad to get the attention of anyone who saw it.

You Visited My Site Ad

The ad received very positive response, but that’s because I was up front about my test. It’ll be interesting to see how people receive it going forward.

It’s a very small sample size, but the ad had a Click-Through Rate of 9.091%.

Some Tips

Just a few things you need to know…

You only need to paste the pixel on your website once. This wasn’t clear to me at first. But the pixel is going to be the same every time. Activate the feature with the first pixel. All future audiences will be created to customize your audience.

You can create up to 200 Website Custom Audiences. Oh, the possibilities!

No Lookalike Audiences yet. I want this! Imagine being able to target users similar to your website visitors. This is only available via the ads API for now.

You can edit your audience, but it’s currently a pain. I can’t edit my audience yet within Power Editor. While I don’t currently have access to creating WCAs within the Ads Manager, I can view and edit them there. This will undoubtedly be fixed in Power Editor soon.

Benefits: More to Come

In this post, I wanted to first focus on what Website Custom Audiences are and how you can create them. But stay tuned. A separate post is coming about how you can use them for your business.

This feature is going to be huge!

What do you think? Are you excited? Let me know in the comments below!

Need help setting up your Website Custom Audience strategy? Sign up for my WCA Workshop!