How to Deliver Highly Targeted Ads with Partner Categories

Facebook has rolled out tool after tool after tool to make targeting in their ad system more targeted. Custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and custom audiences from a website are all relatively new and exciting tools. They continue to provide advertisers with new ways to reach their desired audience, and Partner Categories is no exception.

Partner Categories is a targeting tool that gives you a new method of targeting potential fans and customers. It takes a method of targeting long used by marketers off of Facebook and brings it to advertisers on Facebook, too, and involves targeting users off several qualifications that include past purchase history.

Partner Categories can be an incredibly powerful tool, just like Facebook’s other targeting options, especially once you know when and how to use it.

What is Facebook’s Partner Categories?

Partner Categories allows you to target users based on their past purchases, their lifestyle, and by their interest in a category similar to the one your business functions in.

In order to bring us this feature, Facebook partnered up with third party agencies (Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon) to gain the data needed to create it. These partners provide data with users’ activities—both on and offline—to provide the opportunity for more highly targeted results. They do this without invading privacy (advertisers target a specific group with no actual information on the individual); there are no lists of users, and no information on individual users. It’s a group targeted on a qualification.

Partner Categories lets you target users by their occupations, lifestyles, or past purchases. They have continued to add new categories since the release of the feature, and some have been moved in to the “behaviors” section of targeting.

If, for example, you sell trucks, you can target users based on current pick up truck users of a certain income, who may be willing to trade in or upgrade their current model. Now you could even target those who are active buyers and are currently in the market to buy.

If you sell non-slip footwear, similarly, you could choose to target those in the food service industry (most of whom are required to wear non-slip footwear, and for good reason). By choosing to target those who work as wait staff, chefs, or dishwashers (and creating an ad just for them), you may have put your product in front of an audience that is highly receptive to your message.

The possibilities are endless, but you can use direct or indirect partner categories to send highly targeted messages to those most receptive to them, increasing sales and ROIs.

How to Create an Ad Using Partner Categories

Partner Categories is currently only available—like several other features—when creating an ad in Power Editor. While supposedly this feature is or should soon be available to all types of ad creation, I personally don’t have access to it except through Power Editor and it seems like that’s the case all around, at least for now. So Power Editor it is!

In order to get to Power Editor, click here.

Once you’re in the targeting section of creating your ad through Power Editor, you’ll first be asked if you want to choose any existing targeting criteria, or be prompted to use the traditional targeting system of demographics.

Targeting Partner Categories

If you keep scrolling down, all the way at the bottom you’ll see “Facebook Categories” and “Partner Categories.”

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The categories are divided up by which third party data provided the information will come from.

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Some have overlapping categories, so check all of them to see what fits best for your ad campaign.

Facebook's partner categories

You select the categories you want, and run your ad from there. You can select as many as you want, and the numbers on the right hand side will tell you how many people fit into each partner category.

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When to Use Partner Categories to Target Users

Partner Categories may not be a tool you use to target during every campaign you ever run. That’s ok. It’s not one that you have to use all the time, but it’s a great one to have in your arsenal for whenever you need it.

Let’s say, for example, you’re looking to promote new baby food or products for children. It’s possible to target mothers based on their children’s ages, as well as details like whether the mother is working-class and/or a homeowner.

partner categories

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This kind of information can help you delve deeper, creating ads just for mothers who need to see them most. While taking a gamble and targeting women in a certain area, ages 25-40 could land you results, targeting mothers with young children will get you much better results.

Layering Partner Categories, either with other Partner Categories or with Facebook’s Categories can help you focus in for even more highly targeted traffic for your ads, and using other traditional targeting options (like location, demographics, etc) can help fine tune your results.

Let’s go back to the car example. You will obviously choose to target those who are active buyers in the market (Partner Category), refining the search and narrowing that audience down by those close enough by you to purchase from you (traditional targeting options).

Partner Categories gives you access not just to someone’s Facebook activity, but what happens off Facebook. Instead of only being able to target someone who liked Ford’s page, you can actually target users interested in buying now.

While Facebook has managed to collect a lot of information on users, having access to their offline purchasing behavior can make a difference between connecting with someone interested in your product, and connecting with someone who theoretically might be (but maybe isn’t) interested in your product. You can create ads for different groups of people that your product might appeal to.

Let’s go back to the example of non-slip shoes targeting restaurant staff. Other industries often need or utilize non-slip shoes as well, like roofing contractors (definitely don’t want to fall when you’re two stories or more up), house cleaners, and those in food processing, just as a few examples. You could create ads specialized for each occupation, targeting them with Partner Categories, and getting a potentially higher ROIs with a more targeted message.

Partner Categories lets you target users based on life style, purchase history, and more. You are given access to a group of individuals who are more likely to be responsive to a highly targeted message. It gives you one more level of control and accuracy while targeting your ad campaigns, potentially boosting ROIs and sales.