Turning Offline and Third-party Data into Facebook Custom Audiences

Marketers are still recovering from the monumental changes Facebook recently made to its advertising program; specifically, the ability to access third-party data segments (known as Partner Categories) within Facebook for enhanced targeting.

The power of third-party data is undeniable, because it allows for remarkable specificity and precision in creating and marketing to custom audiences. With the elimination of Partner Categories, are Facebook marketers out of luck?

Not at all. You just need to get a little more creative in your approach.

Built-in tools: Still worthwhile?

Depending on your target audience, Facebook’s integrated data-gathering tools may still help you gain insights into a prospective audience. Granted, your choices are much less robust — age, language, gender.

But don’t overlook options like detailed targeting, which allows you to include or exclude people from your audience based on specific criteria:

  • What sort of apps the person uses
  • What kind of ads they click on
  • Activities they engage in, both on Facebook and off it
  • Advanced demographic information (detailed age ranges, location, etc.)
  • What pages they like, follow, etc.

Similarly, Facebook’s connections targeting lets you identify potential audiences based on their connection to your business. Facebook considers a person who has interacted with a marketer’s page, app or ad in the past to be “connected.” Likewise, if a person is friends with someone who took any of the previous actions, Facebook considers them to be connected as well.

Offline data: Creating your own custom audiences

It may take a bit more effort, but bringing offline data into Facebook essentially replaces the function served by the Partner Categories.

Whether your Facebook advertising campaign is designed to drive new business leads, boost retention or reactivate former buyers, the use of offline data allows you to add advanced targeting to your overall marketing strategy and improve your campaign’s chance of success.  

First, consider importing your own offline customer data to create what’s known as a custom audience. This allows you to market to your offline prospects in Facebook, as well as create a lookalike audience of new prospects that fit your desired characteristics to expand your reach even further. Leveraging offline data on Facebook is a great way to get in front of your audience where they already spend time online, as well as reaching similar new prospects.

You can also use trusted third-party data to target by more robust demographics, as well as lifestyle interests, prior purchases, life events and hundreds of additional targeting attributes. Working with a quality data provider allows you to engage with highly targeted offline audiences, within Facebook, that are highly scalable with significant digital reach. 

The importance of testing

Whether you are using your own data, a lookalike audience, or third-party data, it’s important to test a campaign before running it full throttle.

Facebook offers useful tools for analyzing the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, with a good degree of detail. One example is Facebook Pixel, a tool that tells you what actions people are taking when they click on your ads.

Why is testing so critical? Though you may conceptualize a Facebook advertising campaign with an ideal audience already mapped out, it’s always wise to keep an open mind. Testing can reveal costly messaging or offer issues, alerting you to a misalignment before rolling out the campaign widely and wasting advertising dollars.

Uncomplicating the new Facebook advertising landscape

There’s no doubt that Facebook’s recent changes have upended many a media strategy. What was once a fairly straightforward marketing channel just became exponentially more complicated.

So how can a partner like d3 help you leverage third-party data and get your Facebook advertising campaigns back in business? At a minimum, an experienced data partner can analyze audience lists and advise you which are the most appropriate to use. We can also provide fresh custom audiences that you can test against the audiences you build yourself. Most importantly, we provide high-quality data. All our records start with name and address, allowing for more accurate and precise targeting, and for matchback services to help measure cross-channel results. All segments are deterministic, multi-sourced verified, cleansed and updated monthly.

Beyond the data itself, it’s also worth noting that a company like d3 works with multiple Facebook campaigns every day. That means we know what works — and what doesn’t — and use our experience to save clients’ time, as well as costly mistakes. Here are just a few ways we provide value:

  • Review your campaign objectives, whether brand awareness, video views, conversions or lead generation
  • Understand and set goals such as click-through rates, cost per lead and much more
  • Manage ad campaigns from end to end
  • Identify the best types of ads to run for each audience
  • Provide creative guidelines for best possible impact


Getting started with Custom Audiences is easy to do. Contact us today for recommendations on custom audiences for your next Facebook campaign!