Facebook recently rolled out Advantage custom audience, which uses automation and machine learning to expand advertisers’ targeting. You’d be forgiven for thinking this feature’s been around for a while, as Facebook released several similar audience expansion tools as part of the Advantage product line over the course of 2022.
Advantage custom audience targets not only your preselected audience but also people beyond the parameters you’ve set if doing so has the potential to improve your campaigns’ performance. In this sense, Advantage custom audience is similar to Advantage detailed targeting (previously detailed targeting expansion) and Advantage lookalikes (previously lookalike expansion), both of which expand your audience beyond your initial criteria if doing so could improve performance. However, at the time those features were unique to detailed targeting and lookalike audiences.
How Is Advantage Custom Audience Different From Similar Features?
How and when Advantage custom audience is actually turned on differs slightly from Advantage detailed targeting and Advantage lookalikes. Because whereas the latter two are objective-specific, Advantage custom audience can be turned on no matter your goal.
What’s more, Advantage custom audience is turned on by default, and you can turn it off. This used to be the case with Advantage detailed targeting and Advantage lookalikes, but now you generally can’t turn those two options off. In other words, once you’ve entered a custom audience, you can turn on Advantage custom audience regardless of your objective.
When Should You Use Advantage Custom Audience?
Many advertisers struggle to set budgets when targeting custom audiences. After all, most audiences are going to be relatively small, except those of the especially big brands—most likely a few thousand people, or at least under 100,000. So if you threw £100’s worth of budget at them a day as you might during broad targeting, you’d exhaust that audience fast.
Assuming your messaging isn’t specific to the audience you’re targeting, expanding the audience would therefore make sense. This won’t make it jump from 5,000 to 5 million—rather, it only expands it if doing so will improve results. The custom audience will still be the core audience used for targeting. In that way, expanding your audience could improve your average frequency and CPM. The audience is used in a similar way to how it’s used to generate a lookalike audience, except in this case the source audience is still used for targeting.
When Shouldn’t You Use Advantage Custom Audience?
Audience expansion doesn’t make sense in every situation. Consider the abandoned cart: you’re targeting people who added a particular product to their cart but didn’t purchase. You could create an ad asking if they forgot something and showcasing that product. Obviously, this ad would make sense only for that specific subset of your audience.
The same applies for upsells and cross-promotions, too. In both cases, the ad refers to something specific that the customer did or bought that’s related to another product, and so would make no sense to an expanded audience. In short, be careful with your remarketing, and if a creative makes sense only for your targeted audience then ensure Advantage custom audience is turned off.
Transparency Is Everything
Privacy regulations mean most data these days stays in the dark. The downside of this increased privacy is that, while Advantage custom audience might appear to be working, you might not necessarily be able to demonstrate how to those in charge. You can take it from me as the CEO and cofounder of Pixated, a performance marketing and web design agency,, dealing with this conundrum every day: you won’t know whether the audience has been expanded, or if so then by how much, nor will you know how many results came from the expansion—if any. To say this makes tracking tricky is an understatement.
So until such time Meta rolls out a breakdown of performance showing your Advantage custom audience, you’re best to limit your use of the feature to prospecting. Doing so may well bolster your campaigns… even if you can’t prove it.