There is no single aspect of Meta advertising that has been impacted more during the past year than targeting. The change has been dramatic.

The problem is that advertisers aren’t so quick to move with these changes. They resist, and they’re mostly determined to apply their tried and true targeting strategies from years past.

In some cases, these strategies still work — or work well enough. In others, they fail miserably, and advertisers who misunderstand the current environment can’t figure out why.

During the course of the past year, I’ve published about 30 pieces of content related to the evolution of Meta ads targeting. I highlight the 20 cornerstone pieces below.

Consider this post a deep resource to help walk you through how to approach targeting now and in the future.

On a Macro Level

Let’s begin with a group of posts related to targeting, where we were, where we are now, and what we can expect in the future.

Where we’ve been…

1. The Ultimate Guide to Meta Ads Targeting: Some targeting methods are new and other have been around forever. This post provides a thorough overview of how you can control who sees your ads with targeting inputs.

Where we are now…

2. 6 Targeting Mistakes Advertisers Make: When ads fail due to the decisions made by advertisers related to who should see their ads, it’s usually due to one of these six things.

3. The Evolution of Who Sees Your Ads: So much has changed during the past few years. It’s important that we reframe how we look at “targeting.” It’s now more about who sees our ads, and that’s not always something we determine with targeting inputs.

4. Your Targeting Matters Less Now: This is something that advertisers need to understand and embrace. It’s not that targeting doesn’t matter at all. It’s not that going broad or audience expansion will always work better. It’s that, quite simply, our targeting inputs make less of an impact now than ever before.

5. How to Approach Meta Ads Targeting Now: Accept that things are different now. You can’t approach targeting the same way that you once did. You need a new strategy.

Where we’re going…

6. The Future of Meta Ads Targeting: I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do think I’m a good judge of where we’re going based on trends. And it’s pretty darn obvious.

7. Meta’s Removal of Detailed Targeting is a Reminder of What’s to Come: Meta rarely adds new targeting options. Instead, the news is almost always that targeting options have been taken away. This should be a sign of what is to come.

8. Targeting Will Get More Difficult: If you struggle to embrace the new world of ad targeting and your role in it, there is no relief in sight. If you don’t adjust, it will only get tougher.

9. Will Meta Remove All Interest Targeting? It’s not a crazy question. After all, Advantage+ Shopping strips away virtually all targeting inputs. Interest targeting also gets Meta in trouble at times due to misuse. So, might interest targeting eventually disappear?

Audience Expansion

The biggest changes to targeting during the past year and more are related to the expansion of who sees our ads beyond our targeting inputs — if we provide them at all.

10. Advantage Targeting: How Meta Audience Expansion Products Work: It all started here. I’ll candidly admit that I resisted. I didn’t like the idea that Meta could expand beyond my targeting inputs. Here’s how Advantage audience expansion works in three different forms.

11. Advantage Detailed Targeting Updates: Audience expansion isn’t perfect, and there are times when you should avoid it. Unfortunately, Meta is starting to limit how often you can avoid it.

12. Meta is Forcing Expanded Audiences for Top of Funnel Optimization: In this post, I make the case for why this is a bad change and what Meta needs to do to make audience expansion for top-of-funnel optimization viable.

13. Advantage+ Audience Best Practices Guide: Advantage expansion products may eventually be a thing of the past, replaced by Advantage+ Audience. This approach applies to any objective and uses your targeting inputs — if you provide any — as mere suggestions. This post outlines how this works and how you should approach it.

Today’s Strategies

Most people misunderstand my feelings about Advantage+ Audience and audience expansion. While I truly believe you should embrace and use it in specific situations, it’s also counterproductive in others. It’s a matter of understanding how these things work, what makes them powerful, and when they might fail.

14. Are Audience Suggestions Necessary?: We’ve reached an interesting point where it may make sense, based on on Advantage+ Audience works, not to provide any audience suggestions at all.

15. Should You Restrict by Demographic Group?: Some of these tools force us to confront our approach to targeting. This is a primary example. In the past, it’s been a must to restrict by demographic group to help the algorithm. But there are specific cases now when that may no longer be the case — but others when that restricted is necessary.

16. Ads Reaching the Wrong People?: Advertisers often make claims about ads reaching the wrong people based on comments, but that’s not a good gauge of whether you actually paid to reach them. Here’s what you should do instead.

17. No Gender in Audience Controls: One interesting quirk of Advantage+ Audience is that there are no controls for gender. You can provide gender as an audience suggestions but not as an Audience Control. In some cases, this actually isn’t a big deal. But there are exceptions.

18. When Broad Targeting Fails: While I’m generally looking forward and an advocate for the advancements in Meta ads targeting, there are specific cases when it’s still not ready for prime time. There are reasons it fails, and it’s something that Meta could fix.

19. Going Broad Isn’t Always the Answer: Whenever I write about the newer targeting options, it does not fail. I’ll get comments from people telling me how going broad, using Advantage+ Audience, or turning on audience expansion doesn’t work for them. That might just be the case!

20. When to Switch to Original Audiences: There are times when it does not make sense to use Advantage+ Audience due to weaknesses in how it works. Be aware of these examples because you may find yourself throwing money away. The expansion of your audience will only make what was already a problem much worse.

Your Turn

How have you adjusted to the evolution of Meta ads targeting?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post A Comprehensive Guide to Meta Ads Targeting: 20 Resources appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.