Let me explain audience overlap with a scenario: Imagine that you are advertising to two different types of women on Instagram at the same time;

  • Audience A: Women ages 20-45 years, who live in Lagos, and are interested in Beauty and Fashion
  • Audience B: Women ages 20-45 years who live in Lagos, generally.

You will understand that women aged 20-45 years, interested in Beauty and Fashion, and live in Lagos also fall into the category of women aged 20-45 years who live in Lagos, generally.

This means that your two different ads will end up showing to the same people at some point.

However, the way Facebook ads works is that advertisers compete for the people who see our ads, in an auction, such that if your ads target the same people, one of your ads may end up suffering, because Facebook ads can only show one ad to a certain audience at one time.

Your Ads success in the auction depends on criteria like how relevant your ad is to the audience, engagement rate, bid and budget. Only one ad can win the auction at one particular time, which means the ads that loses does not get shown.

So, imagine that two of your ads are competing to show to the same person. The cost of the ad that does not get shown becomes high, and your ad ends up not being profitable.

This is why it is important to ensure you target different audiences as much as possible so that your ads can have a fighting or winning chance with different audiences.

Target different audiences as much as possible so that your ads can have a fighting or winning chance with different audiences.

Tope Emiola

How to check if you have overlapping audiences

You can check if you have overlapping audiences and the percentage of overlap between audiences through the Audiences section of the Facebook Ads Manager. Let’s test it Live.

  • Find Audiences in the Ads Manager Menu
Facebook Audience Overlap
  • You will find a list of audiences you have saved in the Audience tap as seen here.
  • Select two or more audiences to compare
  • Click show audience overlap and view results as seen below
  • The result above shows that The audience names FB ADMINS/ENGAGED SHOPPERS FB (Audience A) has a total of 2,200,000 people
  • While the audience DEMOGRAPHICS FB (Audience B) has a total of 340,000 people
  • 280,160 people in Audience A are also present in Audience B
  • This shows that 82% of people in Audience A are also present in audience B
  • If Audience A and B appear in the same auction, Audience B stands a better chance of performing better overall, because if has more audiences to reach, even if it loses in the auction against A.
  • If you are to use an audience in an ad, it is best to us Audience B, or better still combine both audience.

To resolve audience overlap, combine your audiences, or settle for the larger audience only.

Tope Emiola

Now let’s see the percentage of Audience B we can find in Audience A

  • Audience A only contains 13% of the people in Audience B, which amounts to only 280,160 people out of 2,200,000 people. This means that Audience A is not a threat to Audience B.

Audience Overlap and Custom Audiences

Facebook custom audiences is an ad targeting option that lets you find your existing audiences among people who are on Facebook.

Custom audience includes the following

  • Your customer lists (email address, phone number uploaded to Facebook ads manager
  • Website or app traffic captured by the Facebook pixel or SDK
  • People who interact with or follow your business on Facebook and Instagram

Seen below is a custom audience list of existing people who have interacted with the business on Facebook, Instagram and Website. In order to protect the privacy of this audiences, they are not eligible for analysis in audience overlap.

To protect the privacy of people on Facebook, the audiences custom audiences selections are not available for audience overlap analysis.

Facebook Custom Audience

Audience overlap is not necessarily a bad thing. But it can lead to poor delivery and performance of your ad sets. This is because your adsets (targeting containing similar audiences) will compete against one another.

Also, your ads end up showing to the same people over and over again. While there is a large pool of audience who are yet to encounter your business. Hence, you are not maximizing your advertising.

The trick with Facebook ads is to always expand your audience, and audience overlap defeats this, which is why you need to take conscious effort to avoid overlap.

Learn more about the Facebook Business Manager where you can access the Audience overlap tool in this post.

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