social media how toWould you like to get more out of your Facebook advertising?

Did you know you can now target Facebook ads based on people’s purchase history, job roles and other external insights from major data providers?

Facebook continues to roll out advertising tools that allow marketers to target their ideal customer in ways not seen before.

What Are Partner Categories?

Within the past year, Facebook has launched Custom Audiences, Conversion Tracking, Sponsored Results, Lookalike Audiences and a whole lot more.

Partner Categories is the latest tool added to your Facebook toolbox. Here’s what you need to know and how to use Facebook’s Partner Categories to reach the audience you want with your Facebook advertising.

Facebook partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon to make Partner Categories a reality. These partners provide data on Facebook users’ online and offline activities away from Facebook to create more refined targeting opportunities.

Up until recently, you could target ads to Facebook users based only on the information they provide in their profiles (age, gender, school, location, employer) and both precise and broad interests.

One of the previously added features—Custom Audiences—changed that, adding the ability to combine your offline customer list (email addresses, phone numbers and Facebook UID numbers) with your Facebook advertising efforts.

And now Partner Categories enters the fray to provide access to even more data for Facebook marketers.

Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon provide more than 500 categories that you can target associated with things like purchase history, job role and lifestyle.

partner category occupation

There are more than 500 Partner Categories to choose from.

Instead of giving you a list of all 500-plus categories, here are 10 examples that provide a glimpse into the power of Partner Categories:

  • Household size of 6 (8,842,800 users)
  • Upscale department store credit card user (34,618,400 users)
  • Home office supply purchases (2,638,300 users)
  • Aftermarket vehicle purchase over 48 months ago (11,952,800 users)
  • Baby food & products buyers (10,497,100 users)
  • Casino vacations (4,242,000 users)
  • Dog owner (12,643,500 users)
  • Fitness buyers—runners (5,950,600 users)
  • Teacher/educator (223,000 users)
  • Donate to veteran causes (7,016,400)

As you can see, these partners are providing Facebook with a ton of data. Individual categories can include up to several million users.

And Facebook will continue adding to this list.

Partner Categories and Privacy

I know what you’re thinking: AHHHH! Advertisers know how much money I make? What I’ve bought? PRIVACY ALERT!

Rest assured, advertisers know nothing about you as a user. As Facebook marketers, you simply tell Facebook to target users in a specific group, and they do it. It’s the same as when we target women who are age 35-44, live in San Francisco and work at Facebook.

There are no lists of users. There’s just a category name and the number of people who are in it. Facebook does the rest.

When ads are displayed that utilize Partner Categories, users will be able to get more information about what company shared their information and how. Read this post from Facebook about advertising and third-party partners for more info.

Why Are Partner Categories Important?

It’s all about relevancy and efficiency.

Stop wasting your money advertising to people who don’t care about your product, service or niche. Focus on those most likely to relate to what you have to say.

This also opens up opportunities for selling on Facebook. Imagine you are in the travel industry and offer packages for seniors. You could target users in Datalogix categories like this:

  • Take cruises (13,020,0400 users)
  • Affluent baby boomers (17,098,700 users)
  • Leisure travelers (22,800,900 users)

You could then target those who qualify in all three groups, and your list is cut down to about 4 million users.

Or maybe you sell new Ford trucks valued over $30,000. You could target users in Datalogix categories as follows:

  • Pickup truck owner (17,904,500 users)
  • Make is Ford truck (10,647,400 users)
  • Vehicle age is 6-10 years old (31,187,100 users)
  • Price is $30K-40K (2,249,400 users)

If you cross these categories, you end up with about 37 million users.

But your dealership is in Milwaukee, WI. If you target only men within 25 miles of Milwaukee who fit within these categories, the new audience is 71,500.

That’s right. Just over 70,000 Ford truck owners in the Milwaukee area (that’s a lot of Ford trucks in the Milwaukee area!) who may be on the lookout for a new Ford truck. You can target them.

Powerful, right?

How to Use Partner Categories

First of all, this is only available to advertisers within the U.S. for now. If you’re outside the U.S., stay tuned.

Second, Facebook says they are rolling this out to both Power Editor and the self-serve ad tool. I only have this within Power Editor. If you want access to all of the good stuff, you should be using Power Editor anyway.

While creating an ad, go to the Audience tab. Under Precise Interests is a Categories box. This holds both Facebook Broad Categories and Partner Categories.

facebook broad partner categories

Partner Categories are found in Power Editor under Precise Interests.

As mentioned earlier, you can grab categories from Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Just know that you can only pull categories from one of those partners for an individual ad.

Expand Acxiom, Datalogix or Epsilon to view the categories contained within them. Then select any of the categories that you want (again, only select categories within a single partner group).

Here’s what it would look like based on the travel company example from earlier.

facebook partner categories select

Click on the categories you want to target. Make sure to pull from only one partner per ad.

Hover over a selected category and a tooltip description will come up. Here’s the description for “Affluent Baby Boomers”.

category description

Hover over a category once you’ve selected it to get a full description.

You can choose to target people who like ANY or ALL of these categories by clicking on the drop-down to the left…

target any or all

Target either ANY or ALL of your selected Partner Categories.

If you don’t feel like digging through all 500-plus categories (it’s admittedly a bit clunky to expand and collapse repeatedly to find what you want), you can also start typing a keyword in the category search.

I started typing “Marketing” and the category “Sales/Marketing” came up.

keyword search

Instead of collapsing and expanding, type a keyword in the search to find your ideal Partner Category.

Partner Category targeting can then be used in addition to your other targeting like age, gender, location and interests.

Partner Category Reminders

To recap, here are the main things to remember if you’re going to start using Partner Categories today:

  1. Target users based on buying activity away from Facebook.
  2. Use Power Editor.
  3. Only available in the U.S.
  4. Target multiple categories, but only one partner at a time.
  5. Use Partner Categories in addition to other targeting.
  6. Nothing changes regarding privacy.

Now, it’s your turn to give it a try!

Is Partner Category Targeting Effective?

This form of targeting on Facebook is too new to say just how effective it is yet, and it will largely depend on the quality of the data. But there’s certainly potential here.

What do you think? Have you used Partner Categories? What results are you seeing? Let us know in the comments section below!

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  • Jon,

    Great to see you here dude. The Power Editor is a tool I just started using to get my message in front of a more strategic audience, where I want them to see it (timeline versus right side ad bar). I haven’t started using Partner Categories but especially in the case of selling insurance related products this seems very important.

    Appreciate the deep dive on this buddy,


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  • Charlie Ardagh

    Its amazing what ad options and the depth of targeting Facebook is enabling businesses of all sizes access to. I wonder will there be a lot more layers/partnerships to come in terms of getting an even more granular set of targeting criteria.

  • I think this new feature open up many possibilities for marketers. I can’t wait for it to be available for other countries than the US

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  • Thank you for making this easy for everyone to understand, Jon!

  • Awesome post Jon! This is really an interesting update on how to make our Facebook ads more effective using partner category targeting! It’s a must-try for all Facebook marketers!

    Thanks SME!

    Stay inspired!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Thanks, John! Just another example of the seemingly limitless options for targeting with Facebook ads. Powerful stuff!

  • Thanks for having me, Cindy!

  • I agree, Diego. This could be big!

  • Sounds like a good time to be in the third party tool advertising industry, eh, Charlie?

  • Thanks, Hanley! Absolutely this could be a big one for the insurance industry. I’m still figuring out the best ways that I can leverage it, but it seems to be a no-brainer for particular industries.

  • Dara Khajavi

    This is fascinating. I did not even realize all the possibilities of Facebook advertising. Thanks point it out. I really enjoy all these updates Facebook is making. Hopefully, consumers will too.

  • In a perfect world, Dara, this will mean more relevant advertising. Since “no advertising” isn’t an option, hopefully users will be happier with advertising that actually applies to them!

  • Jim Devitt

    Wow, this is a huge step. This puts basically the same technology of the big players in to the hands of any business. Thanks!

  • Absolutely, Jim! There really isn’t much difference right now between what a small biz and a big biz can do right now. The only limitation — albeit a big one — is budget!

  • Alabi A.

    This sound cool and with plenty potential. I wish I have it now in Nigeria because the noise on Facebook is much. I need to filter those that see my advert.

  • Susan

    Just created my first Power Editor ad using the Partners Category option. How do I submit it to FB for approval? (There is no save or submit button.)

  • Upload!

  • Susan

    Thanks Jon. Got error: Missing Friendly Name … where is that option? THX!

  • Missing Friendly Name? Hmmm… Haven’t seen that one before! Are you sure this error is associated with the unpublished post? If you go to the Ads Manager, is it pending review?

  • Megan Bennett

    Just tested this out on a golf event ad. Should be really interesting to see how adding these new categories plays out!

  • Susan

    No. 🙁

  • When in doubt, start over from scratch! I know those errors are a pain.

  • Susan

    Thanks Jon. Would you mind recommending a video or tutorial on Power Editor for newbies? TY!

  • Is it available for US only?

  • Right now it is, Andrey.

  • You know, I thought I had created one. But I didn’t! My tutorial is linked in the post above, but it’s not a video. I definitely need to update this!

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  • Michelle Koo

    Hi there,

    Really enjoyed reading this post. Very informative and exciting. Would like to start using this tool for our Facebook Advertising but I don’t see the Partner Category option on my Facebook Ads page. Do I need to update my page? Is there something I need to do to activate it? I’m in Hawaii and we generally get things a little slower her. I don’t think this is the case for Facebook, right? Please advise.

    Thank you,

  • Hi, Michelle! It’s been rolled out in the US, but not everyone within the US has it yet based on what I’ve heard so far.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Sherman Smith

    Wow I never knew about this. This is my first time hearing about Power Editor and Partner Categories. I used facebook ads, but it was a challenge. I did pretty good with them, but if I can do this, then I know I’ll get better results. Thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle Koo

    Thanks for the prompt response, Jon. Appreciate it. I will look forward to its’ roll out and update my results here.

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  • xavier

    As working in the travel industry in SE Asiua targeting only us users only this fonction is almost useless for me.

  • Hi Jon, is it CPC or CPM or either?
    Any feedback as to the relative performance vs Facebook Marketplace ads?
    Great article, thanks

  • Hey, Tom! This isn’t an ad type, but rather an option for targeting. So you could use CPC or CPM, and there is no “relative performance” vs. marketplace ads since you could use this with any ad type.

  • That’s the spirit, Sherman! There are so many features like this one that not enough people know about. Facebook ads can be very powerful when used appropriately!

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  • Fatima_lt

    Great post! It’s awesome how Facebook opens a world of possibilities to advertise and target the campaigns. Hopefully these features will be available in Europe soon.

  • Patti Springer Zorr

    I am in the power editor, when I click on partner categories it is blank. Anyone else experiencing the same problem?

  • I’ve heard of others seeing this, Patti. If you’re in the US, I assume it just hasn’t been rolled out to you yet. Frustrating, I know!

  • Uri Lederman

    any idea when this would be available for Canadian users??? We do have US customers???

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  • infolancer

    I do not see these options – when do you reckon this would be seen in India ?

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  • Carey

    Wow, I can’t wait to use this.

  • Andrew

    Am I the only person who doesn’t see this lol I still have the old style of Ad Manager I guess? I’m quite confused

  • Andrew

    Im also in New York so I would assume this area and California would be the first areas to have it. Hmm, I cant seem to find this partners section.

  • Bob Stapler

    Is there a way we can see these categories without buying an ad first? I have clients who want to see a list of auto-related categories.

  • Charnelhouse

    I’m trying it now…biggest issue is you can only use categories from one partner, and each partner gives different criteria. Plus it treats criteria within a partner as OR instead of AND, which limits your ability to create a targeted audience. But it’s better than nothing.

  • Hayden Wilson

    I’ve recently been toying with this idea and am excited about implementing this right into my industry. I’m a marketer for Personal Trainers so this will work perfect and I can finally start directly targeting them. Thanks for the article mate.

  • I’m having a TON of trouble figuring out my “target customer”.

    Some of it is a no-brainer, like Location. We are a painting company in Las Vegas, NV. My husband is obviously not traveling in order to paint someones house.

    But we have painted homes for people with huge families, and one income; single mothers; all the way to the other end of the spectrum of affluent people with 2 well paying jobs, and 1 child.

    How do I narrow my focus. I really want to use our advertising budget wisely.

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