Sometimes there is a feeling that social networks are tracking us — often in the feed, there is advertising for products and services that can really be useful. How does this work? There is no magic here. The targetologist simply specified the correct settings when launching paid advertisements.

We talk about the principles of operation and features of targeting, as well as where and how to launch advertising that will benefit the business.


What is targeted advertising?

Targeting means «goal». And this accurately reflects the essence of targeting. It is aimed specifically at the target audience — people interested in certain goods or services. In other words, targeted advertising is a marketing tool that allows you to show ads not to a wide range of users, but only to a specific category with specified characteristics. This includes age, gender, income, location, interests, and even behavior. This algorithm makes targeting an effective and relatively inexpensive method of promotion. Since ads are displayed to an interested audience, it is possible to receive orders using a relatively small budget.

For example, advertising of educational toys can be shown to women aged 20-35 with preschool children, and advertisements for sightseeing tours will be displayed to young, active people with above-average income who love to travel.

Tasks and goals that can be achieved with targeted advertising:

  • increase in online sales of goods and services on the site;
  • growth of subscribers in social networks;
  • increasing brand awareness;
  • application promotion;
  • strengthening the company’s reputation;
  • establishing new partnerships.



How social networks «read» our thoughts or how targeting works

Given the sometimes alarming accuracy of advertising displayed on social media, the question arises: where do social networks get so much information about users, and how do they «know» who to show a particular ad to? The answer is simple: people themselves «tell» the systems about themselves. When registering, the user specifies gender, date of birth, country, city of residence, other basic information, and gives consent for anonymous collection of data about themselves for advertising purposes. During user interaction with the social platform, information about them is constantly being supplemented. The system collects data on:

  • subscriptions and subscribers;
  • liked, saved, commented on publications;
  • viewed stories/reels (videos) to the end;
  • location tags, location (with corresponding settings).

And it goes on. If you travel often, you are likely to have above-average income. And this will be taken into account by the social network algorithm when displaying ads.

The platform analyzes all the data and assigns users to groups specified by the targetologist when setting up the ad.

This algorithm works «in favor» of both parties the user receives relevant content without wasting time on searches, and businesses potential customers.

Let’s take a look at how targeting works «in action». Our colleague Katya was scrolling through her Instagram feed and paying attention to every ad shown to her. In just a few minutes of scrolling, she saw ads for:

  • an app for learning English;
  • a sports tracksuit;
  • a sushi set
  • cakes at a confectionery shop;
  • SMM courses and a digital agency.

All creatives are of different themes, but are related to her actions on social media, characteristics, and interests. After all, Katya:

  • works at a digital agency;
  • is learning English;
  • recently visited a Japanese cuisine restaurant and its geolocation was «captured» by the map;
  • is subscribed to several sports clothing stores and regularly views their stories;
  • was searching for recipes for the perfect birthday cake.

Target example

The information that the social network has recorded about Katya belongs to different user audiences.

Target collects the following data about users:

  • Demographic — nationality, gender, age, income level, occupation. These parameters are the most obvious and are indicated first. For example, maternity wear is relevant for women under 40, while anti-aging massage is more targeted to an audience of 30+;
  • Psychographic — social status, values, attitudes toward different things, beliefs, lifestyle. For example, if a user does not eat meat and often searches for vegan recipes online, they will be shown relevant establishments and online stores.
  • Behavioral — recent purchases and actions on the Internet, including on external sites. Thus, a user who has recently ordered an iPhone on «Rozetka» will be «offered» a new case and other accessories on social networks.
  • Temporal — for example, people who are celebrating their wedding anniversary in the near future will be shown thematic ads from online stores with gifts, confectioneries, restaurants, or spa complexes.
  • Geographic — place of residence and recently visited places. Creatives can be set up for residents of one or several neighboring areas or recent visitors to a specific location.
  • Technical — types and models of devices. For example, if you launch ads for MacBook owners, potentially the ads will be seen by people with above-average income levels.

The audience is configured according to different parameters — they are indicated in separate groups of ads or combined. It is better to use the second option. For example, for vegan establishments, a psychographic trait in combination with specifying the location will work more effectively than separately.


What does it take to launch targeted advertising?

At first glance, targeting seems like an easy science. All you have to do is specify the characteristics of users who are potentially your customers, and the algorithms of social networks will do the rest for you. In fact, setting up targeted advertising involves a comprehensive analysis of the target audience, selecting relevant social networks, creating an offer, and preparing a business page.


Defining the target audience in targeting

The target audience is the most likely consumers of your products who make the purchasing decision. That is, they have an interest, need, or problem that can be satisfied or solved by offering your services. All of a brand’s marketing and advertising activity is directed at these people. But where and how to find them? We note in advance that you should take a comprehensive approach.

  • Conduct a website analysis. If you have a website, web analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) can help you obtain information about the gender, age, location, devices, user behavior, and preferred products/services of your target website visitors. Also, pay attention to the sources of traffic to your site.
  • Create a survey for current customers. If the company is not a newcomer and already has a customer base with phone numbers or email addresses, it is worth using this information. For example, create a newsletter that offers a certain bonus for completing a short survey. Focus on social networks in the questionnaire — in which application do your customers show the most activity, do they buy anything on social platforms, what kind of content format do they prefer, etc.
  • Analyze competitors’ pages. Look at which social networks similar companies get the most traffic to their site from (this can be done using Similarweb), as well as statistics on coverage, popular posts, comments, successful and not very expensive ads. Some data can be obtained from specialized services such as trendHERO, Hootsuite, HypeAuditor, etc. And competitors’ advertising campaigns can be viewed in the Facebook Ad Library and through their business pages on Instagram in the «Account Information» section.

Of course, it is necessary to take into account the business niche, price segment, and product specificity. When analyzing the audience for setting up paid advertising, the targeting specialist relies on strategies from SMM specialists and internet marketers, where in addition to the portrait of the target audience, there is additional market research, company, and product research for promotion.

Target audience


Selecting a social network for launching targeted advertising

Your platform is where your target audience is active, not just spending most of their time on it, but actually interacting with commercial pages and making purchases. Once you understand who your audience is and create detailed portraits by dividing potential customers into segments, you can determine the relevant advertising channel for targeting. In general, you can set up paid advertising on the following social media platforms.


The most active audience on Facebook is entrepreneurs, politicians, experts (professionals from various fields with extensive experience or in management positions), and IT specialists. That is, people with good income and prospects. Facebook is suitable for promoting companies willing to spend money and time on advertising and positioning themselves as experts, and their products and services as high-quality, unique, and effective. For example, advertising on Facebook can work great for online schools that regularly hold various workshops and intensives.


If Facebook users primarily visit the site to read, Instagram is for visual content. The platform is actively used to promote online clothing and accessories stores, home goods, various gifts, educational courses, beauty salons — anything that can be creatively, easily, and interestingly demonstrated using visual content. The core audience is people aged 18 to 35, predominantly women with average to above-average income.



Another visual platform, but more niche. Pinterest will be relevant for small business owners targeting a narrow audience. For example, companies selling cosmetics can promote their products to makeup artists, hairdressers, nail technicians who visit the portal for ideas and inspiration. The content must be appropriate — high-quality, aesthetic, and expert.


LinkedIn is suitable for attracting B2B audiences and finding new employees. It is not suitable for companies engaged in direct sales. The majority of active LinkedIn users are experienced professionals aged 35-50.


Ukrainian companies rarely set up paid advertising on Twitter. The social network is more relevant to large brands operating in Western markets. However, it is not suitable for direct sales, but rather for building brand image and expertise.


Video content is required for advertising on Youtube. It can be a company’s video blog or promotion of promotional videos. In the first case, the platform becomes a full-fledged media platform for promotion, in the second — it provides additional traffic to the website. But in both scenarios, businesses spend money on creating video content, its promotion, and gaining audience growth.


Promoting a business on TikTok, as with Instagram, is almost suitable for any niche. The main thing is to find a super-creative content creator to create effective, interesting, and «live» videos. During the period of military conflict, paid promotion in TikTok is not available for Ukrainian advertisers, so the tool is relevant only for companies operating in Western markets. However, the targeting in this social network is more suitable for increasing brand recognition than for direct sales.

Despite the fact that the social network audience is getting older, the overwhelming majority of active users are young people under 30 years old.


Audience Network

A tool from Meta for paid promotion of mobile applications and games. It is suitable for GameDev and product IT companies. Ads launched in the Audience Network are displayed on Meta external applications and websites.

Advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network social networks is set up in one advertising tool Meta Ads Manager.

What else should you focus on when choosing a social network for targeting?

  • marketing goal of promotion (strengthening reputation, expanding partnership relations, increasing recognition, sales, etc.);
  • requirements for business pages and their optimization;
  • formats and possibilities for publishing advertising creatives on the platform;
  • opportunities and specifics of placing targeted advertising, payment methods, and requirements.

Despite the fact that each of the mentioned social networks can be effective depending on the niche and business specifics, the leaders in the number of commercial pages are Instagram and Facebook. More than 37 million companies use the Ads Manager dashboard to conduct advertising campaigns. That is why our article focuses on working with the advertising tool from Meta.


Offer creation

«Offer» means a proposal. In the case of business promotion, it is a value proposition that highlights the benefits and solves the problems/needs of the target audience. An «offer» refers to a product or service, but not only that. The offer also includes all the bonuses that the customer receives: service, discounts, gifts, warranty, etc. The effectiveness of the advertising campaign directly depends on the offer. Even if the advertising is perfectly tuned, if the benefits of your offer are unclear to potential customers, it is unlikely to be successful. As a rule, the offer in targeted advertising is developed by the targeotlogist in conjunction with the SMM manager and they come up with ideas on how to present it better in creatives.


Page preparation

Another important criterion is the landing page that the user lands on after clicking on the ad. Social media accounts must be carefully prepared for advertising: profile headers should be filled, at least 9 posts, highlights, address, contact information, etc. You should also take care of the activity of the page during the advertising campaign (posting stories, reels, and posts).

If the ad will lead to platforms outside of social media (website, landing page, blog, etc.), it is important that the landing page works well with the advertising. That is, it should be adapted to mobile devices, easy to understand, beautifully designed, with clickable buttons and appropriate content.

Is it possible to launch targeted advertising without a website?

Yes. For this purpose, Lead Ads exist in Ads Manager, through which you can collect contact information or requests from users. However, having a business account on Facebook is mandatory; without it, you will not be able to launch any advertising campaign through Ads Manager.

Ads Manager


What targeted advertising might look like: ad formats

In addition to Lead Ads, advertising in Ads Manager can be set up in the following formats:

  • Images. Photo ads are a universal and the simplest format. The main advantage of promotional images is their nativity. That is, such ads look like a regular post, the only difference being the presence of a CTA button and the word «ads» on it. The photo ad is displayed in the feed and, recently, when viewing thematic posts of other accounts.

Image creative

  • Video advertising. Targeted In-Stream advertising (not to be confused with Reels) consists of short videos usually up to 15 seconds, shown to users when browsing the FB and Instagram feeds. Creating such creatives requires more time and resources, but their coverage is usually higher. After all, about 91% of users prefer video content.
  • Ring gallery (Carousel). The carousel format allows up to ten different photos (videos) to be added to one ad. It is often used to advertise online stores.

Carousel creative

  • Collection. It is a kind of catalog with products that can be viewed directly in the Facebook feed. Such ads include a link to a website or app. When you click on a photo, you are redirected to a web page with the characteristics of the corresponding product.

Creative in collection format

  • Stories. Photos or videos automatically displayed in the appropriate section on Facebook and Instagram when a user views the stories of people they follow. Taking up the entire screen, advertising stories completely capture the viewer’s attention, so they are almost always used in targeting.


Where to get advertising creatives, who creates them, and how?

Advertising creatives play a key role in whether a potential customer becomes interested in a company. After all, it is from them that they first learn about the business. The ad must be informative, creative, with a clear call to action, and most importantly, relevant to the target audience. As a rule, one advertising campaign contains several ads in different formats. We recommend adding dissimilar creatives and selecting the most conversion during the ad campaign testing process. In addition, individual creatives should also be prepared for each target audience segment, with relevant headlines, descriptions and CTA.

Creative development is a team effort. A targeting specialist generates ideas and creates a technical specification, while a designer brings them to life. A content maker (for photo/video creation) or photographer, SMM manager are often involved as well.


Improving advertising performance: retargeting and look-alike

The possibilities of targeted advertising are constantly expanding, and advertisers are offered new tools to improve the results of their advertising campaigns. Let’s take a look at the most popular (and most effective) ones — retargeting and look-alike.

Retargeting is a marketing tool that allows you to remind «warm» audiences about your products or services. These are users who have already interacted with your brand: visited your website, read your blog, installed your app, or subscribed to your newsletter. The most effective type of retargeting is personalized (dynamic) retargeting, where the system creates an ad based on the user’s previous actions. For example, if a visitor to your website viewed an Adidas hoodie, they will see a similar product and related offers in the ads.

To set up retargeting on your website, you need to add a special JavaScript code snippet generated in the Ads Manager ad account – the Pixel Meta, which tracks user behavior. When setting up the Pixel, the targeting specialist specifies the necessary target actions, and when a user performs them, they are recorded in the system. As a result, the advertiser gets the opportunity to remind those who were interested in their product but didn’t become a buyer for some reason.

You can learn more about the features of Pixel in the Meta Business Help Center.

Look-alike is a targeting technology that allows you to find new users who are most similar to your current audience interacting with your company. Look-alike audiences are set up in Ads Manager based on the uploaded database. These can be user lists (for example, inquiries recorded in CRM), data collected by Pixel Meta, or using web analytics services.

To use the Look-alike tool effectively, it is crucial to collect the initial database correctly while adhering to the rules established in each advertising network. For example, Facebook recommends adding at least 1,000 users’ data.


Analyzing advertising: where to view the results and how to evaluate them?

The reporting tools in Ads Manager are used to measure ads on Instagram and Facebook. All key metrics can be seen in the advertising account. Results are displayed at the campaign, ad group, and individual ad levels. We offer a list of important indicators in Ads Manager that you should pay attention to when analyzing the effectiveness of ad campaigns:

  • Reach: the total number of people who viewed the ad;
  • Impressions: the total number of times the ad was displayed. This metric differs from reach because it accounts for multiple views by the same user. Therefore, the number in this metric will be higher than in the «reach» parameter;
  • Frequency: shows how many times the same person viewed the ad;
  • CTR: demonstrates the ratio of ad views to clicks. If the percentage is low, the advertising campaign needs optimization;
  • CPM: cost per thousand ad impressions (relevant if the goal of the campaign is awareness);
  • CPC: average cost per click on the ad;
  • CR: conversion rate – the ratio of the number of views and completed target actions;
  • Total spent: the total amount spent on advertising;
  • Cost per result: the cost of a target action;
  • Leads: the number of users who completed a target action after clicking on the ad;
  • Link clicks: the number of clicks to the landing page;
  • Video views: the total number of views of video ads longer than 3 seconds;
  • Video views at 25/50/100%: the number of users who viewed a certain percentage of the promotional video — only the beginning, halfway, and the full video.

If the advertising ad includes a link to a website, it is also necessary to analyze metrics in Google Analytics.

Advertising analysis


What are the restrictions when launching targeted advertising?

One of the most unpleasant situations when launching advertising is when the campaign seems perfectly set up, but the ads are constantly rejected by the system. Before adjusting the specified parameters, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the standards and limitations of Meta.

In order for an ad to pass moderation, the system’s requirements must correspond to:

  • the quality of the landing page;
  • the advertised goods or services;
  • the content of the ad.

For example, on Instagram and Facebook, it is prohibited to promote any tobacco products, fireworks or paintball accessories, microloans, goods and services for adults. And for advertising gambling, cosmetic, medical, financial services, dating applications, there are restrictions.

Advertising Restrictions

In addition, Meta is picky about explicit creatives with naked bodies, passionate kisses, controversial slang expressions, or bold slogans. Ads with a large number of grammatical errors may also fail the check.

The system will also not pass ads with a link to an image, document, or web page with a redirect. The specified link to an external resource should lead the user to a site or a full-fledged landing page, the content of which fully corresponds to the ad. By the way, information in the creative should also be accurate and up-to-date.

When launching targeted advertising, it is necessary to pay attention to the following points:

  • readability of the ad and its content correspondence to the specified link;
  • presence of an SSL certificate on the website;
  • clickability of all communication forms on the landing page, relevance of phone numbers and other contacts;
  • accuracy of prices specified in the ad.

We recommend that you familiarize yourself in detail with the full list of rules and standards for placing Meta advertising.


Why can the system block an ad account?

Usually, if the rules are not followed, Meta simply rejects the request to activate the ad account. After correcting the errors, the ads are approved by the system. A ban on an advertising account occurs in case of serious violations, such as the deliberate promotion of prohibited products, as well as suspicious financial transactions according to Meta’s opinion. This can be a sharp increase in the advertising budget, inconsistency of the cardholder’s name with the advertiser’s initials. When creating an account, it is important to provide only real data, as Meta often requests documentary proof of identity. If an advertising account is blocked, it is necessary to contact Meta’s technical support. 

It is important to note that the system moderates the ads of new accounts particularly carefully.


What is the difference between targeted and contextual advertising?

Targeted and contextual advertising are often confused with each other. There is certainly a lot in common between the two, but there are also fundamental differences.

The main difference is in the way the target audience is segmented. Targeted advertising uses user data, while contextual advertising displays ads based on entered keywords. That is, unlike targeted advertising, context is directed at users who already have a formed request. For example, a person types «buy computer desk» in the search bar and sees relevant ads. Before their query, the system will not offer office furniture. Targeted advertising works «ahead of the curve». For example, a computer desk may potentially interest married women aged 30-40 with school-age children.

Accordingly, the platforms for displaying contextual and targeted advertising are different. The former is set up in Google Ads and displayed in Google’s search results and contextual media network, while targeted ads are shown on social media platforms. Having a website or at least a landing page is mandatory when launching contextual advertising.

There is no more effective form of paid advertising between the two. The success of which type of ad will work better depends on where your target audience usually views goods and how they make purchases. Often businesses use both marketing tools simultaneously for comprehensive promotion of services.


How much does targeted advertising cost and how to calculate the budget?

«How much money is needed for advertising?» and «When will the investment bring in customers?» are perhaps the most relevant questions for every entrepreneur. In reality, although all advertising platforms work on a similar principle — determining the cost of advertising based on an auction, the size of expenses depends on many factors:

  • geography — the wider the coverage, the more expensive the promotion;
  • chosen payment model — for impressions, clicks or interactions with the ad;
  • number of competitors — the more similar companies advertise their business on social media, the higher the starting bid will be;
  • cost of the offer — premium goods require a larger budget;
  • conversion rate — the more users click on the link, the cheaper the overall promotion will be.

How much does advertising cost

In addition, the following criteria should be taken into account when forming a budget:

  • which products need to be advertised;
  • average order value of this group of products;
  • what is the margin;
  • maximum amount you are willing to pay per lead;
  • desired number of orders per month.

For example, you want to promote silver jewelry with an average check of 1500 UAH, a margin of 25%, a desired lead cost of 80 UAH, and get 50 orders per month from advertising.

Let’s calculate:

Total revenue: 50 orders x average check of 1500 UAH = 75000 UAH.

Optimal budget required for advertising: 50 orders x 80 UAH per lead = 4000 UAH.

Next, we determine actions to attract 50 leads. With a conversion rate of, say, 5% (this metric is available in analytics tools), the total number of clicks from social media to get 50 orders should be 1000.

Knowing the number of clicks and CTR, we can calculate the required number of impressions. The CTR is determined after the ad campaign test, in our case, it is conditionally 2%.

Thus, to have 1000 users visit the site at a CTR of 2%, the ads must be displayed 50000 times. We determine the CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) using the formula:

4000 UAH (budget) / 50000 x 1000 = 80 UAH.

We can also calculate the cost per click: with a 2% CTR and a cost of 80 UAH, one click will cost 4 UAH.

Let’s summarize the forecast for paid promotion on social media:

  • clicks — 1000;
  • CPC — 4 UAH;
  • CPM — 80 UAH;
  • CTR — 2%;
  • Conversion rate on the site — 5%;
  • Number of orders — 50;
  • Average order value — 1500 UAH;
  • Revenue — 71000 UAH (75000 UAH – 4000 UAH for advertising).

Of course, the obtained indicators do not guarantee similar results since other factors also influence the final result, but they can serve as a guide for the advertiser. It is also important to understand that any budget planning occurs only after conducting a test ad campaign when the key metric indicators are available.


Can a target ad campaign be launched independently by your own without preparation?

Launching a targeted ad campaign independently is common among small business owners with limited budgets. Registering in an advertising account and intuitively setting up the necessary parameters does not require specific knowledge, especially when there are plenty of instructions available in open sources. However, at best, this strategy only allows you to recoup your spending. Among the common mistakes when launching an ad campaign are:

  • Incorrect analysis of results, for example, when only tracking the advertising campaign budget and revenue from it, without subtracting the cost of goods sold and additional expenses.
  • Choosing the wrong advertising campaign goals.
  • Obtaining non-targeted traffic.
  • Incorrect campaign settings targeting too broad or too narrow an audience.
  • Unprepared platform for attracting traffic.
  • Copying competitors’ strategies.
  • Incorrect determination of the advertising channel.
  • Lack of preliminary testing of the ad campaign.
  • Superficial monitoring of results without studying and analyzing each metric.

The potential of paid promotion of your business on social media can be realized with the help of a targetologist. You can attract a freelancer in this case, it should be understood that specialists with low prices for services are most likely beginners; or use the services of a marketing agency the expenses will be higher, but you will pay for professionals who will definitely not «waste» your budget.

For entrepreneurs who want to independently manage their campaigns, the optimal solution is to obtain the necessary knowledge base through courses on setting up targeted advertising.

Target courses

Target courses