February Digital Hack: Facebook Sequential Targeting

Each month we’ll be bringing you our Digital Hacks to help supercharge your digital advertising campaigns.

Some will be old tricks and some will showcase the latest tools, techniques & thinking. Either way we’ll be giving you actionable insights you can apply to your digital campaigns today.

With Facebook recently overhauling the Newsfeed algorithm to show less brand & publisher content, there’s never been a more important time to get your paid Facebook strategy right. As such, our first Digital Hack is the “Facebook Sequential Hack”.

Sequential targeting is part of the storytelling artform that we live by here at True. It involves presenting users with ads in a particular order based on their past behaviours.

While this is nothing new we still see many brands retargeting users with the same message, time and time again which in this day and age just doesn’t fly.

Facebook understands the importance of this and so released a product specifically to run sequenced messaging to users based on a predetermined order of up to 50(!) different ads. This is available directly through a Reach & Frequency buy. This is where you pay for a specific number of impressions to reach a certain audience at the desired frequency.

While this can be a great way to run sequential messaging on Facebook, it can also be quite expensive due to fixed CPMs. It also doesn’t allow you to control whether or not a person has to have engaged with the content you are showing in order to see the next ads in your sequence, as it will serve them in sequence no matter what.

Thankfully, through smart use of the targeting & retargeting options available we can run the same sequencing with greater control at around half the cost!

The Intro

This Hack takes two important factors into account: Where the customer is in the user journey. What is (and isn’t relevant) to them based on their interactions with our page, videos, ads and website.

– Do click/engage – retarget sequential with something relevant to them to help move the user along the journey/convert

– Don’t click/engage – retarget sequentially with alternative products/offers to entice the user to convert

The Setup

So how can we actually achieve this directly in Facebook? Well, let’s first have a look at all the targeting options available.

Go to Asset Library > Audiences > Create Audience > Custom Audience > Engagement

Here you will find an extensive list that is constantly being improved & updated:

– Page Engagements

– Video Engagement – 3sec, 10sec, 25%, 50%, 75% or 95%

– Collection / Canvas Engagements

– Opened Lead Form

– Completed Lead Form

– Instagram Business Profile Engagements

– Interested in Event

– Going to Event

And let’s not forget the website retargeting options to include in this strategy:

– Website Engagement – create audiences of groups of pages, individual pages and steps in your conversion funnel

– Website Events – next level website retargeting. Create micro-conversions using Facebook conversion pixels to generate audiences of users taking specific actions (that aren’t conversions such as downloading a brochure)

You will have to create all of these audiences and allow time for them to populate so upfront planning is essential here.

The Execution

Using a number of the above targeting options, we’ll demonstrate a simple, yet effective, example of a sequential strategy using just 3 campaigns. We want to serve new users with our video and retarget people engaging with the video to drive them to our website. We then want to retarget any visitors to our website that didn’t convert and encourage them to do so.

Campaign 1

– Firstly, create a Reach or Engagement objective campaign using Video Ads

– Targeting your desired geo, demo, interest etc.

– Negating all of your custom audiences in this campaign to ensure you are reaching a brand new audience

Campaign 2

– Next, create a Traffic objective campaign using Carousel Ads

– Targeting users who have viewed more than 10 seconds of your video

– Negating website visitors & converters

Campaign 3

– Finally, create a Conversion objective campaign using Link Ads

– Targeting users who have been to the website

– Negating converters

Remember, you can still overlay demo, geo, interest, behaviour etc. targeting at any or all stages of this strategy to hyper-target your audience and run bespoke creative.

The Result

Using this sequential strategy vs standard targeting & retargeting has proven to:

– Reduce CPMs by up 50% vs Facebook’s Reach & Frequency buy

– Increase conversion rates by upwards of 30%

– Provide a better user experience

– Improve perception of the brand

So try it out with a simple journey such as the example above. Then look to develop your sequential strategy into a multiple path, decision tree type approach to supercharge your Facebook campaigns.

Here at True we offer creative & digital under one roof which allows us to work closely on sequential strategy and the required creative. We can also optimise on the fly during campaigns if we see an opportunity to develop or optimise sequential targeting strategies based on real-time data. Whilst most digital agencies won’t have this luxury, this can still be achieved with solid strategic planning from the outset.


Jamie Taylor
Digital Lead, True Sydney