Facebook loves to throw stats at us. With over 2.23 billion active monthly users on the platform as of June 30th 2018 (that’s just under 30% of the world’s current population for you maths fans), it’s clear that if there’s a place to reach your audience - however niche or broad - Facebook is it.

If you’re new to Facebook advertising, or perhaps the online world in general, with such a wide audience base, where are you supposed to start with your targeting?

Well, you have three options when it comes to creating audiences in Facebook:

  • Facebook Saved Audiences
  • Facebook Custom Audiences
  • Facebook Lookalike Audiences

We’ll give you a quick overview of each, and show you how you can create lookalike audiences 10% bigger than in Facebook and generate multiple audiences split by country - all at the same time.

What are Facebook Saved Audiences?

A saved audience essentially allows you to create an audience from scratch.

Here you define and save (obviously) an audience by selecting the age, location, gender, language, interests and behaviours that you think represent the people most likely to engage with your product or services.

A saved audience is great for newcomers without too much existing owned data to work with, who may be creating audiences in line with their market research.

So here’s a test audience I've quickly created to target males aged 35-45 who live in London, have a professional degree and are admins of a Facebook Business Page:


There's lots of options to choose from and it's pretty straightforward. Just be aware that there are some options that are only available in certain audience locations (e.g. politics in the United States, but let's not go there..).

What are Facebook Custom Audiences?

Facebook’s customer audiences are a definite upgrade to your saved audiences. There are audiences created using your own business data.

There are four types of data you can use here:

1. Custom audiences from Customer data

This is where you upload data about your customers, i.e. from your CRM system into Facebook.

Facebook will then ‘hash’ your data so that it’s protected before it’s uploaded to Facebook, where they will then match your data against users in Facebook.

This method is a way of identifying your existing customers - e.g. by email address or phone number - on Facebook, so you can:

  • Advertise directly to them (e.g. for conversion objectives or loyalty offers)
  • Exclude them from your advertising (e.g. for brand awareness or new customer offers)
  • Use your best customers as a basis to find similar customers (for lookalike audiences)

N.B. You will never actually know who from your customer list is found in Facebook, you will simply have an audience of people that Facebook has matched, with no sensitive personal information contained.

You'll also need to make sure any customer data you upload abides by the new GDPR rules.

2. Custom audiences from Website data:

If you have a Facebook pixel set up on your website, you can create custom audiences based on the behaviour of visitors to your site.

You set up rules to define what audiences are of interest to you to exclude or target. For example:

  • An audience of everyone who has purchased from your website in the last 30 days
  • An audience of everyone who visited a particular product page in the last week
  • An audience of people who spent the most time on your website

You can then use these audiences to create very specific targeting and retargeting ads.

3. App Data

With the popularity of apps on Facebook growing, it's not surprising that this is another valuable source of data you can use to create a custom audience.

Similar to the Facebook pixel, using the App SDK you can create custom audiences of people who take or have taken certain actions with your app. For example:

  • An audience of everyone who has recently launched your app
  • An audience of everyone who has added items to their basket in your app but never purchased
  • An audience of everyone who has reached a certain level within your app

4. Engagement Data

This one relates to users who have engaged with your Facebook content, the options here being:

  • Video e.g. An audience of everyone who has watched 75% of your videos
  • Lead Ads e.g. An audience of everyone who opened or filled in a form on one of your lead generation ads
  • Canvas e.g. An audience of everyone who clicked a link in your Facebook Canvas
  • Page e.g. An audience of everyone who has engaged with any of your posts

Custom audiences allow you to really narrow down your messaging and targeting to a specific audience.

If for example you set up a custom audience of everyone who spent a specific amount of time on a particular product page, you know you can target that audience with product-specific ads to encourage them to convert. Snazzy.

Once you've got your current customers and engaged prospects to convert, you'll want to reach a wider audience, ideally one that will convert too.

Which brings us to our final audience type..

What are Facebook Lookalike audiences?

The answer to this question is really in the name.

Lookalike audiences are all about finding new audiences that are as close as possible to your best performing audiences.

Say for example you uploaded your customer file to create a custom audience containing your highest value customers.

It’s great that you can advertise to these valuable customers directly but they’re already customers, they’re already high value.

What you really want is, well: more of that, please.

This is where your lookalike audience comes in.

Using this custom audience as your source data, you ask Facebook - or better yet, TrustAds - to create an audience of new people that have strong (or slightly broader) similarities to your custom audience, so in this case: people who are similar to your highest value customers.

This is perfect for advertising on Facebook in particular, due to the rich amount of personal information people divulge, that you may not have a great overview of - or that would take you a long time to spot and combine using audience insights.

Say you’re a healthy food company.Your top audience may share a number of 'expected' things in common, perhaps their income, education level and interest in health and fitness on Facebook.

But what if they were all also massive fans of The Great British Bake Off? (hey, who isn’t.)


What if a large number of them were recently engaged? Or have children under 5?

The unexpected list goes on.

With lookalike audiences, you don’t need to bother with any research or analysis to figure out the similarities between your best performing customers, you let Facebook’s algorithm do it for you.

In creating a lookalike, Facebook will use its algorithm to find commonalities across your custom audience and apply these to people in the country you select.

As long as your custom audience contains at least 100 people from a single country, a lookalike audience can be created.

What options do I have when creating a lookalike audience?

This is where you select which of your custom audiences you'd like to create a lookalike of.

% Match
You can choose just how closely your lookalike audience matches your custom audience by selecting the % similarity.

Lookalike audience location
You must choose at least one country when creating a lookalike audience. You you can’t define by narrow locations such as city, state etc.

That’s it!

So how do I create a Facebook lookalike audience in TrustAds?

Under the ‘Audiences’ panel on the left hand side, select ‘Add Lookalike Audiences’.

Once on the audience creation page, select which ad account you’d like to select your custom audience from.

Once selected, you will be prompted to ‘choose source’ which will list all of your available custom audiences under the selected ad account, also displaying the approximate size of your source (Facebook recommends a source audience of between 1,000 - 5,000)

Next up you select in which location(s) you would like to generate your lookalike audience(s).


You can next select how many audiences you would like to create either per country or per all of your countries combined.

In TrustAds, you can create 20 audiences per country, so if you wish you could create as many as 500 Lookalike audiences (that’s the maximum allowed for one source) with one click.

So in my example here, I’m creating 5 lookalike audiences (1%, 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%) per country, so 15 lookalike audiences in one go.


TrustAds will show me exactly what lookalikes it will create, so as long as I am happy I simply click ‘Create’ and those lookalikes will be generated and saved to my Facebook Ad Account - perfect!


So what’s the difference when creating a lookalike audience in Facebook Vs. TrustAds?

The biggest difference is the time it takes to create your LLA and the % similarity available.

10% match vs. 20% match

In Facebook, you can only create lookalikes up to 10%, where in TrustAds you can create audiences up to 20%.

If you’re targeting a relatively small country and your resulting lookalike audience is small, an additional 10% allows you to expand the size of your audience whilst still maintaining similarities within your new audience. This also gives you a wider range of options to choose from to test what level of closeness/broadness works for you.

Up to 6 audiences vs. Up to 500 audiences

In Facebook, you can only create 6 lookalike audiences at once, where in TrustAds you can create as many as Facebook’s API allows, which is 500 lookalike audiences per custom audience source.

No separate audiences by country vs. Split by country or combine

In Facebook, you aren’t able to create separate lookalike audiences for each country you select at the same time, you can only create audiences across each selected country combined - and in the combined scenario the split across each country won’t be equal, closeness will take priority.

In TrustAds, you’re able to make lookalike audiences across combined locations, just like Facebook, but you’re also able to create separate lookalike audiences for each location you select at the same time.

So if you wanted to make 10 lookalike audiences in every European country, you can do this by using the TrustAds Lookalike maker just once, or you can use Facebook’s lookalike audience maker 100 times to achieve the same outcome…

Just sayin’.


Lookalike audiences are a crucial tool for Facebook advertisers, allowing you to capitalise on your existing data by quickly identifying and expanding audiences likely to convert in new locations.

Already a TrustAds member? Create your lookalike audience here.

Fancy a go?

Sign up to your free 7 day trial of TrustAds here!


  1. Facebook: History and Stats

Further reading:

  1. Facebook for Business: Custom audiences
  2. Facebook for Business: Saved audiences
  3. Neil Patel: How to improve your Facebook Campaign with Lookalike Audiences