Ad targeting for creatives (and how to not piss people off)
I know a lot of artists, performers, galleries, event producers and so on use Facebook ads to reach wider audiences – I certainly do for our events in the gallery, such as exhibition openings and workshops. It’s a great way to get in front of people, and a cheaper alternative to traditional print advertising.
Lately on my feed I’ve been noticing more and more ads that are completely irrelevant to me – so much so that I go to the trouble to hide the ad and give feedback as to why I’m hiding the ad (usually ‘it’s irrelevant’). Then I click on the little ‘why am I seeing this ad’ link, to see what sort of targeting the ad has, and it’s immediately clear why the ad has annoyed me. I’m not the target audience!
Without fail, every ad I’ve hidden for being irrelevant has targeted so broadly that they must be pissing off more people than they’re attracting. Ridiculous targeting, like all women in Australia aged 25-55, or every single person in the Blue Mountains, with no differentiation between age, gender or preferences. One of the best things about Facebook advertising is the ability to target to your specific niche audience, so why are these advertisers paying to waste that opportunity (and piss people off in the process)?
As an artist or creative practitioner, it’s likely you haven’t done a bunch of formal market research to understand your target market – and that’s okay. You’re probably going off your gut, or from observing who your audience has been in the past, and that is perfectly fine. But if you want your precious advertising dollars to reach the right people, it pays to do a little bit of planning before you click the big blue button.
Maybe your gig audiences are mostly people under 30. Maybe you know that your buyers all share a love of a particular style of art. Maybe in past experience, those who buy last minute tickets to your show are holidaymakers. That’s all great information to have, because it means you can target those people specifically, and not waste money advertising to people who aren’t interested in what you’re offering.
With Facebook, you can target by age, gender, location, occupation, personal preferences and a bunch of other things. So have a think about who you really want to reach with your ads and spend the extra 10 minutes to create the target audience before you put your ad out into the world.
You should also consider the frequency of your ad. If your audience is too niche, that is quite small relative to the budget you’ve put in place, they’re going to see the ad more often, and that could drive them away, even if they’d otherwise be interested in what you’re offering.
If you do all these things, you’ll likely get a better response from people you want engaging with you, fewer hides and spam reports of your ad, and you’ll save money. Facebook and other social media platforms can be a useful tool for generating art or ticket sales, but only if you take the time to set it up properly.