Did you hear the news? We've launched the world's first automated rules for Snapchat Ads! Following our exciting announcement last week, we thought we’d take the opportunity to delve into the question some of you may be asking...  

Facebook Ads Vs. Snapchat Ads - What's the difference?

This is the question we'll be helping to answer over the coming weeks.

We’ll give you the low down on demographics, formats, targeting, objectives, costs and more!

This week, we'll be focusing on demographics and targeting. Put bluntly - what audience can you reach, and how?

First things first, let’s remind ourselves of who Facebook and Snapchat are exactly.  

Who are Facebook?

Facebook, founded in 2004, is easily the most famous social network in the world. Launching a year after MySpace, Facebook quickly overtook to become the dominant player in the social media space. It’s remained there ever since.

With a major data breach in 2018 however - and a lot of bad press - their position has for the first time been in question, as user numbers have started to decline.

Facebook is accessible via desktop, mobile and tablet. Users can do many things on Facebook, whose offering has expanded greatly over the years from the 'write on my wall!' days.

Users can buy and sell on the Marketplace, watch shows on Facebook Watch, like and follow Pages, join groups, create Stories, and more. If there's something you want to do online, you can probably do it on Facebook.

Facebook is also responsible for Instagram, who they acquired in 2012, and WhatsApp, in 2014. Messenger, which used to be part of the main Facebook experience, was launched as a separate app in 2015.

Facebook launched self service ads in 2007, at the same time as they launched Pages. Currently, you’re able to run ads for Facebook, Instagram and Messenger from Facebook’s ad platform.

Whilst it has been announced that ads are coming to WhatsApp, there is no current capability to run ads here.  

Who are Snapchat?

Snapchat was launched in 2011, as a social network allowing users to share ‘Snaps’ or photos that would disappear after 24 hours. The app quickly grew in popularity, adding video, chat capabilities, Lenses and Stories to its offering.

Outside of a user’s own content (or that of the people they follow), there’s a Discover feature, where Publisher Stories and curated content is found.

Interestingly, Facebook offered to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3 billion but were turned down by the founders. Facebook responded by taking on many of Snapchat’s biggest attributes. They have incorporated features such as Stories, Video and Lenses into Instagram and Messenger over the years. Ouch.

Unlike Facebook, Snapchat is strictly mobile, and prefers to be seen as ‘A Camera’ rather than an app.

In October of last year however, they launched Snap Camera, which works with PC & Mac. This allows the use of Snapchat lenses and filters with a user's webcam for video calling and online gaming.

Snapchat’s foray into self service advertising only began in mid 2017, so it’s still a relatively new channel for small and medium businesses.  

Platform Summary

Facebook is undoubtedly the reigning king of the social media space. It's offering is far more comprehensive - but arguably more cluttered and complex - than Snapchat.

Facebook has become engrained in the lives of so many people - literally 20% of the world's population... but the fears around data and transparency - as well as the pressures of social media, are beginning to show in public opinion.

Snapchat, a more streamlined app - sorry camera - is pushing the authenticity angle. You'll find no likes, follower counts or public video views on the platform, and that's by design. A major point of differentiation to Facebook and Instagram, their argument? They don't believe social networking should be a competition.

Facebook isn't going away any time soon. But despite the attempted buy out - and stolen features - it looks like Snapchat isn't either.

Right, so we know a little more about each platform, and we've established that neither is going away... this is good news, folks!

Why? Because the more places to generate traffic and reach your audience, the better!

Let's dive in and find out what each of these platforms offers to advertisers in terms of audience...

Facebook Ads Vs. Snapchat Ads: Who can I advertise to?

This is an important question to kick us off with. It's all very well knowing that we have these two platforms to advertise on - but we need to know who we can reach.

Facebook's demographics:

  • 1.49 billion daily active users
  • 53% female, 47% male
  • 25 - 34 most common age range (29.7% users)
  • India is the source of the highest number of users (270m)

Instagram's demographics

  • 400 million daily active users
  • 50.3% female, 49.7% male
  • 18 - 24 and 25 - 34 are most common age ranges (32% users each)
  • United States is the source of the highest number of users (120m)

Snapchat's demographics

  • 191 million daily active users
  • 59% female, 41% male
  • 18 - 24 most common age range (36% users)
  • North America (US & CA) is the source of the highest number of users (81m)

Demographic Summary

Well, it's clear who has the highest number of users. But we knew that already. Unless you're already one of the world's biggest brands, it probably won't matter to you too much whether you're able to reach millions or billions.

The age ranges are all skewed towards younger audiences, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - or unexpected. After all, social media was born with the millennial generation.

Oh, and it's the millennial generation who are set to control the largest share of disposable income in the next 10 years. #themoreyouknow

For now though, B2B advertisers might see less of an opportunity in Snapchat and Instagram, where B2C advertisers might find Facebook to be getting a little out of touch...

So now we know who we can reach, let's move on to how we can reach them.

Facebook Vs. Snapchat: What are my targeting options?

Targeting is a big deal. Of course you need a powerful creative, engaging copy - and a fab product or service. But if you don't know your audience, and target them appropriately, that will all be for nothing.

Let's take a look at the different audience types on offer.

Facebook (and Instagram) Audiences

As we discussed in more detail in our blog on Facebook audiences, there are three different audience types you can create - and target - in Facebook:

  • Saved Audiences
  • Custom Audiences
  • Lookalike Audiences

Snapchat Audiences

Snapchat offers five different audience types:

  • Saved Audiences
  • Snap Audience Match
  • Lookalike Audience
  • Third-Party Custom Audience (US Only)
  • Pixel Custom Audience

Let's take a look at these audience types in more detail, and the crossover between the two platforms.

Saved Audiences

Saved audiences are the audiences you create from scratch, i.e. from Facebook/Snapchat's data, not your own.

Facebook Saved Audience Creator

Facebook's Saved Audience creator is straightforward to use - but also pretty basic, only giving you information on the size of your potential audience.

In terms of how you can define your audience, these are the targeting options Facebook offers:

Location targeting
You can choose to target (or exclude) a country, city or specific address. You can also bulk select based on trade areas or emerging markets.

You can then narrow this down to either 'everyone' in the location, people who live there, have recently been there or are travelling there.

You can't target based on a local hotspot, tourist or event destination, e.g. The O2, The Greek Theatre, etc.

Age targeting
You can choose your own age range between 13 and any number up to 64, where you can then select 65+ as an upper limit.

Gender targeting
You can target Men, Women or all users.

Language targeting
Target based on language, if you wish to create copy for different audiences.

Detailed targeting
This is where you can get down the nitty gritty, which includes:

  • Demographics - Education, financial status, life events, parental status, political affiliation (US only)
  • Interests - Business & industry, entertainment, family & relationships, fitness & wellness, food & drink, hobbies & activities, shopping and fashion, sports & outdoors, technology
  • Behaviours - e.g. country specific consumer classifications, email domain, travelling habits, mobile device, multicultural affinity (US only)

Connection Based targeting
This is where you can target (or exclude) based on a user's connection to your Page, App or Facebook Event:

  • People who like your Page, have used your App, or responded to your Event
  • Friends of people who have liked your Page or used your App

Snapchat Saved Audience Creator

Snapchat's saved audience creator is certainly visually more compelling, but beyond that, it's also more intuitive. You're not just given information on your potential audience size.

You're also given key top line information on your estimated audience demographics, e.g. top 3 lifestyle categories, age and gender breakdowns, even what mobile devices people are using in the area.

On Snapchat, you can target users based on the following targeting options:

Location targeting
Here you can choose to target (or exclude) a specific country, metropolitan area or postcode.

One of the biggest wins over Facebook here is the option to target specific categories on Snapchat. For example, you can choose to target ATMs, Football Stadiums, Airports, Theme Parks, Casinos, Universities and more.

You can even choose specific venues, stadiums, hotels, tourist attractions etc.

Age targeting
Similar to Facebook, you can choose your own upper limit, but only between 13 - 34.

Beyond that, you can only choose 35+... This one's certainly likely to put off B2B advertisers and prove an annoyance for those selling high ticket items.

Gender targeting
Same options as Facebook: All, Male, Female.

Language targeting
Target based on language, if you wish to create copy for different audiences.

Facebook offers a larger number of languages.

Advanced Demographic targeting
This is where you can target users based on:

  • Education
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Language
  • Parental status
  • Life event

You are also shown where the data comes from, either Datalogix or Experian.

Now when compared to Facebook's detailed targeting, this selection looks, well...underwhelming.

But then you scroll a little further to find:

Predefined Audience targeting
Ah. Now this is where it gets further down to the nitty gritty, split by:

  • Lifestyles - target users by their hobbies and interests
  • Shoppers - based on where they shop, what they shop for, whether they are budget buyers or luxury
  • Viewers - target viewers by which channels and genres they watch
  • Visitors - target users who recently visited a bank, restaurant, auto dealer etc.

What's great here is that again you're shown exactly where the data has come from, e.g. Nielsen, Visa, Comscore, and a user's own location data.

Operating System targeting
All, android or iOS - this is available in Facebook under 'behaviours'.

Device Make targeting
Here you can target users by what mobile device they use.

Not available in Facebook.

Connection Type targeting
This feature option enables you to target users by whether they are connected to Snapchat via WiFi or Cellular signal (or all).

This is particularly useful if you're sending users to a content heavy site or running video ads.

Not available in Facebook.

Snapchat Carrier targeting
You can target based on which cell/mobile network carrier the user is on.

Not available in Facebook.

Saved Audiences Summary

Well, the targeting options each platform provides are enough to make any user's skin crawl (and any advertiser drool...).

Snapchat wins on usability and visual appeal. That insight into not only your projected audience size, but also the demographic breakdown is absolute gold.

Facebook definitely wins when it comes to targeting by age, language, existing connection or a user's publicly displayed information. You're also always going to be able to reach a huge audience in any given location.

Surprisingly (for the new kid on the block) Snapchat's location features are impressive. It brings a whole new meaning to the idea of delivering ads to the right people in the right place at the right time. Let's face it, these go far beyond Facebook's current capabilities, as does the ability to target by connection type, device and carrier.

The advanced demographics are harder to call. One thing that's clear is that they both offer a hell of a lot. It will ultimately come down to what an advertiser needs.

That being said, the inclusion of exactly where the data came from on Snapchat is a big win, and should provide comfort to advertisers.

All in all, we'd say Snapchat has the edge here. Their more user friendly, intuitive and relevant Saved Audience creator outshines Facebook's offering.

Let's move on to the second audience type...

Custom Audiences

Creating audiences from scratch can be great for new businesses or those moving into new markets. But you'll often find that there's nothing more powerful than your own data.

These are the audience types on each platform which allow you to use your own customer data (e.g from your CRM) or pixel data.

Audiences made up of this data are great for:

  • Exclusively targeting your best existing customers - e.g. for loyalty campaigns or encouraging repeat purchases
  • Targeting (and retargeting) people who have already shown interest - e.g. those who have visited your site or abandoned checkout.
  • Excluding existing customers - e.g. for brand awareness campaigns or new customer offers
  • Excluding 'problem customers' - e.g. unhappy customers who may respond negatively to your ads.

Facebook Custom Audiences

Facebook allows you to use four different types of data for your custom audiences:

  • Customer Data Information about your customer base from your CRM to match to users on Facebook
  • Website Data Behavioural information about your site visitors (tracked via the Facebook pixel) e.g. those who visited a particular page
  • App Data Behavioural information about the users of your app e.g. those who have reached a certain level
  • Engagement Data Information about users who have interacted with your content on Facebook e.g. watched 75% of your video

Snapchat also covers customer and pixel data audiences. They just split them into two different audience 'types'.

Snap Audience Match (SAM)

Snap Audience Match (SAM) is the equivalent of the Customer Data custom audiences in Facebook.

This is where you upload customer data to exclusively target or exclude your customer base when advertising on Snapchat.

Snapchat Pixel Custom Audiences

Snapchat's Pixel Custom Audiences are - you guessed it! - the same as Facebook's Website Data audiences (generated by the Facebook pixel).

There are no audience equivalents for App Data or Engagement Data on Snapchat.

Custom Audiences Summary

Facebook undoubtedly wins this one. Offering two more custom audience types than Snapchat is a bit of a killer.

Yes, arguably the two most important audience types (customer data and website pixel data) are of course present on Snapchat.

However for app developers and advertisers, the lack of an App data option will be a major disappointment.

And whilst Snapchat doesn't encourage competition, it seems strange that private engagement data couldn't be implemented for advertisers. The ability to focus on users who are actively engaging with content for example is a key feature Facebook offers.

Snapchat's self service platform is still in its early stages, but for some advertisers, these missing targeting capabilities will be crucial.

Lookalike Audiences (LLAs)

Facebook and Snapchat both offer Lookalike Audiences to advertisers. Lookalike audiences (as the name suggests) allow you to find people just like those you're already finding success with.

This is done using your custom audiences. So for example, you could upload a custom audience or SAM audience of your biggest spending customers. You would then create a lookalike audience, using this as the source.

The Lookalike Audience is created using snazzy algorithms to find brand new users, who will be as close as possible to your existing customers. So you can target new audiences who are far more likely to respond to your offering!

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Facebook allows you to create a lookalike audience based on either your customer data or pixel data.

You can create your LLA in a particular country or region, or across multiple countries combined. You then have a choice of audience size between 1 - 10%, with 1% being those who most closely match the source audience.

Snapchat Lookalike Audiences

Snapchat only allows you to create a lookalike audience based on customer data.

You can only create your LLA in one country, you aren't able to include a combination.

Rather than a percentage scale, you have three options for your audience size:

  • Similarity (smaller audience, closest resemblance to source)
  • Balance (mid sized audience, balances resemblance and reach)
  • Reach (larger audience, broadest resemblance to source)

Lookalike Audience Summary

Neither audience creator is the easiest to use - which is why we created the advanced 20% LLA generator for Facebook...

The win has to go to Facebook here though, with ability to create lookalikes based on pixel data as well as customer data.

It's also useful to be able to combine* multiple countries, e.g. if you wanted to target North America as a whole.

*You can also split by country in TrustAds, and create up to 500 at once, between 1-20% match. Just sayin'.

Whilst the 3 options in Snapchat are arguably more straightforward than Facebook's 10 percentage points, you ultimately have less control. You're also unable to see the resulting audience size, which means it's difficult to confidently make a choice between those three options.

It's not all doom and gloom for Snapchat though, as there is a source type they offer that Facebook don't... Nielsen and Oracle custom audiences.


Yes, whilst Snapchat may have lost out to Facebook when comparing Custom and Lookalike Audiences like for like, it's worth mentioning that Snapchat does offer an additional audience type.

Snapchat Third Party Custom Audiences

These are custom audiences users can purchase from Oracle or Nielsen. These third party providers allow advertisers to:

Reach highly targeted Snapchatters based on their past buying patterns or viewership behaviours.

Ooh la la!

Now these audiences are only available in the US - and you have to send your request directly to Oracle or Nielsen.

There's no pricing hinted at on Snapchat - which means it's probably pretty expensive.

If you're advertising in the US however (and you can afford it) this information - taken from the likes of Visa, Mastercard and Experian - might be well worth considering.

Third Party Custom Audiences Summary

Congratulations Snapchat, there's no competition here.

Facebook used to offer this third party audience data - via Partner Categories.

In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, they scrapped the scheme to "improve people's privacy on Facebook".

For media buyers, big brands and big spenders in particular, this Third Party Data will be more than welcome from Snapchat.


We hope you now have a bit more of an understanding of who you can reach (and how) via Facebook Ads and Snapchat Ads.

Facebook of course has an absolutely unmatched user base. But that's not to say it's where you'll find your most responsive audience, or your best success.

With a self-serve platform that's 10 year's old, there are millions of advertisers vying for the attention of Facebook's 1.49bn daily active users. Snapchat has a much smaller audience base - but with a self service platform just over a year old - you will likely find that competition is low.

When it comes to creating new audiences, Snapchat excels. For Lookalikes and Custom audiences Facebook still reigns supreme.


Saved Audiences - Snapchat wins
Custom Audiences - Facebook wins
Lookalike Audiences - Facebook (via TrustAds) wins
Third Party Audiences - Snapchat wins

Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses - and both offer opportunity for success.

Our advice? Test. Test. Test again. Find which platform has the audience base that suits your needs, responds to you, and most importantly? Delivers the results you want.

Better yet, find what works best on both platforms, and reap double the rewards.

Next week we'll take a look at the ad formats on offer in both platforms, and consider what content works best on each - so stay tuned for that!

Want to give your Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat campaigns their best fighting chance? Automate your monitoring, protection and scaling with TrustAds.

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  1. The Guardian - 50 Million User Accounts Impacted by Facebook Security Breach
  2. Business Insider - Facebook Revenue and User Growth in Decline in Europe
  3. The Verge - Whatsapp Adverts Announced
  4. Forbes - Snapchat Rejects Facebook's $3bn Bid 2013
  5. Snapchat - Introducing the Snap Camera
  6. Tech Cruch - Facebook Cut Off Access to Third Party Data
  7. Zephoria - Top 15 Valuable Facebook Statistics
  8. Statista - User Age Distribution on Facebook
  9. Hootsuite - Instagram Demographics
  10. Facebook Newsroom - Company Info
  11. Snapchat Demographic Data - Snap, Inc.
  12. Snapchat Business Centre - Oracle Audiences
  13. Snapchat Business Centre - Nielsen Audiences

Further Reading

  1. The Hybrid Approach to Buying Website Traffic
  2. How to Create Multiple Lookalike Audiences with One Click