Facebook Ads Gender Targeting

How to Target Users by Gender with Facebook Ads

Gender targeting is one of the oldest forms of demographic targeting. Many offerings – from clothing and apparel to health and lifestyle products – are clearly made with male or female customers in mind. And experienced advertisers have long known that ad copy is often much more effective if written with a specifically male or female audience in mind. But, until now, it has been difficult to target males and female with perfect precision.

In the past, marketers have had to make assumptions about what kind of media (magazines, newspapers, television shows) men and women consume, or, in the case of online advertising, the types of terms they search for. In a recent study of “Gender Demographic Targeting in Sponsored Search” by Pennsylvania State University professors Bernard Jansen and Lauren Solomon, for instance, the researchers needed to assume searchers’ genders based on their keyword queries. Bing even offers a tool in the adCenter Lab that predicts gender based on keyword. Enter the term “computer,” and Bing predicts that the searcher is most likely male, but only by a 54 to 46 percent margin. “Real estate” tips female, 58 to 42. And “camera” is split straight down the middle: a perfect 50/50.

However scientific Bing and other tools might be, their results are ultimately more or less educated guesses. Facebook Ads removes the guesswork.

Facebook’s Gender Targeting Options

Facebook collects a great deal of demographic information from all of its users, but only two details are required of everybody who signs up for the social network: birthday and gender. This means that advertisers can divide Facebook’s user base by gender, exactly. (At the moment I write this sentence, Facebook has 65,225,260 male users in the United States, and 82,148,060 female.)

With Facebook Ads, marketers don’t need to use proxies like “search term” or “interest” to determine gender. Every user states it explicitly.

Targeting for Gender-Specific Offerings

The most common form of gender targeting is for gender-specific offers. If you are selling men’s pants or women’s dresses; barbershops for men or salons for women; the Boys Scouts or the Brownies, you’ll want your ads to appear to males or females accordingly. When you create your ads, simply set your gender target accordingly: “Male,” “Female,” or, for gender-neutral offer, “All.”

Gender-Specific Ad Creatives

Even if your offer is gender neutral, you may want to create gender-specific versions of your ads with different messages. Marketers know that the same product is often sold differently to men and women. If this could be the case with your offer, create separate versions of your ads – one targeted to men, the other to women – and test different ad creatives on each.
Split Testing for Gender-Specific Performance

If you are using gender targeting to optimize performance – rather than weeding out irrelevant ad impressions for a female or male-specific offer – consider split testing ads for gender-specific messaging. Create two versions of each of your ads: one targeted to males and another to females, with all other details left the same. Then, track their performance and optimize accordingly. In particular, you will want to use Facebook’s “social context” metrics to see what percentage of users “Like” your ads. It is likely that tweaks to each set will result in higher overall conversions.

The Clickable Pro Tool makes it simple to split-test ads by gender. Clickable’s Facebook Advertising Suite includes the Target Library, which allows marketers to create demographic targets using all Facebook Ads options, and save them for use across campaigns and ads. If you have a complex target with many variables, you won’t need to rebuild it from scratch in order to create male and female versions. Simply build your target once, then save a new version, changing nothing but the gender. You now have two targets that you can use as often as you need. And if you have Clickable Conversion Tracking installed, you’ll get metrics displaying the performance of each target directly in the tool