The Power Of Keyword Sets On Facebook

One of the things those gurus love to preach is the usefulness of targeting your Facebook ads with keyword sets. If I hear one more promise that “yeah it’s easy, you just like add some keywords, and then you get a crazy high CTR”, I’m going to stab my eyeballs out with the half-eaten chicken dippers on my desk. It’s only easy if you know where to start. And most people don’t. So let’s start with the basics.

I’m going to show you an example of how keyword targeting worked quite nicely for me last year. The clue for why I’m willing to part with this information is hidden at the end of the last sentence. It worked last year. It might work now, it might not. One thing you’ll learn quickly about keyword targeting is that it has a much smaller scope for scaling. Keyword targeting can make you money, but clever demographic targeting can make you rich. Great marketers have mastered both.

So why do we use keyword sets?

If we’re bidding CPM, we’re paying every time our ad is displayed – no matter who views it, and no matter how relevant they are to the offer. Simple logic dictates that we want to reduce the number of stray eyeballs catching our message to only those who are likely to qualify as potential customers. We can do this by using keywords to search for users who’ve added certain information to their profile.

A fine example was Many Body Theory’s post last month, showing how to create a dating ad on Facebook for insane ROI. The gist of the post was that in order to find people who’d potentially be interested in joining a dating site, we could add “zoosk” to our keyword set and target only users who’ve mentioned or liked Zoosk on their profile.

Suddenly, your target market is reduced from a few million to 30,000 users. The CTR will improve with a great leap but the problem is obvious. How do we scale beyond 30,000 users? Even if every single user popped us $4 per lead, that’s still only $120,000 revenue.

This is where you have to get creative with your keyword sets and learn what I like to call persuasion via association.

Here’s an example of persuasion via association:

Facebook ad example

You’ll noticed I’ve blurred her face out. This is a standard trick I use at the end of the night, after a few too many pints, when I’ve failed to get lucky and instead dragged home a London ghetto rat. Blurring helps, kids. Especially in the morning.

On a serious note, I’ve been working recently to ensure that I only use images if I own the creative license to them. It’s a massively ignored problem in the affiliate world. And although I’m not perfect – some of my creatives still need replacing – you should think twice before sourcing directly from Bing. You’ve got shit in your pants and if the owner of the original image catches a whiff, you’ll probably hear all about it.

Anyway, why is the example above effective? Put simply, it isn’t. Not until you combine it with some highly targeted keywords. Let me show you how it comes together…

Facebook ad example

See where we’re going? All of the keywords are closely related to Manchester United Football Club. Facebook has made a big song and dance about approving ads that sell “unrelated features” in a product. You could argue that Manchester United has absolutely nothing to do with Cupid, Zoosk or whatever dating site you want to promote. But there’s no mention in the ad copy. The only reference we have comes from the girl in our image. She’s wearing a United jersey with that familiar MySpace camera angle that works so well on dating ads.

I’ve experimented a lot with this on Facebook, and it still proves to be successful even after the latest blitzing round of guidelines changes.

The eyes of single, male, Manchester United fans are much more likely to light up when they see an attractive girl flaunting the jersey of their favourite team. It’s a double attention grabber. And if you’re subtle about it, you should be able to get the ad approved before making some vast and sweeping changes to your destination landing page. And that’s where the money is made with this kind of technique.

When I talk about using persuasion via association, there’s a thin line to be obeyed. Capturing the attention of the user with a little association is one thing. Obliterating your quality score by sending a bunch of leads that think they’re going to a dating website with thousands of sexy female Manchester United fans…that’s a different business altogether.

The key is to design a landing page that references your original message – you might find other female United fans when you join us – and build a greater more powerful urge in the reader’s mind. A more powerful urge could be well I’ve been looking around for a girl that shares my interests and I can’t find one, maybe I should give this site a shot?

It’s a lot easier to execute your sales pitch once you’ve grabbed the user’s attention. And you would be amazed how something as simple as an attractive girl wearing the jersey of a guy’s favourite football team can be enough to flick a switch in his mind. Suddenly the service being advertised is cool and compatible. It feels like something where his kind belong. Unfortunately the entire concept will fall apart if you don’t get the landing page pieced together correctly. I’m not going to share my tips for sealing the deal so to speak, so you’ll just have to get testing for yourself.

While this is a very small and niche example, I hope you can appreciate how marketing with keyword sets doesn’t have to be so linear. You don’t have to stick to a favourite football team that your campaign is based around. It could be a favourite band, a certain hobby…the possibilities are pretty endless. As long as this retarded craze for people to “like” shit on Facebook continues, there are always going to be opportunities for marketers to herd individuals in to groups.

If you can find a mutual interest in a large demographic, you can write the kind of laser targeted ad copies that will demand and receive your reader’s attention.

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About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


Leave a comment
  • Great post man. You said you tend to use images that you own the licensing on… does that mean you take them yourself or you use stock images? All the stock images I have seen look too professional, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places.

    Going to test this theory and see what happens 🙂


    I think I’ve got a few ideas now that you’ve posted this, looks like there is still a lot of potential on Facebook! Thanks Martin!

  • Well…find out what his embarassing nickname is and get him
    back. (And check your mail. You have a new message. You have (1) sexy single waiting for a reply. Ha!)

  • Lol, Ive used that same exact targeting to push the ESPN zip submit around the same time as you last. Props though, I would have never thought of dating and the way you did it.

  • I really don’t know why affiliates give away such secrets… I’m using similar methods at the moment.
    oh well what the heck… good post man.

  • Thanks for being one of the few bloggers who provide actual good info that is explained well.

    Could you go into more detail on where we can buy or how you go about getting images you own the creative license too? The example of the man united chick in this post would be impossible to find on istock.

    Istockphoto is a choice but they don’t have the amateur female pic look and your going pay $20+ for an image. So doing a small test on FB for dating is going cost you a few $100 just for the images if you want a small test. Now multiple that by many campaigns and you are spending thousands each week on images in addition to ppc spend.

    What is the concern with using images you don’t have the license to? It obv seems wrong but what can they really do? I was thinking they could sue for damages and maybe go after any profits you made by using their images. But if that really was the case, lawyers would be having a field day going after the millions of people using images they don’t own rights too. But I’ve not read of this, only thing I heard is people had to take images down.

    Could you provide some insight into why you are worried about the images? I agree its good to use images you buy but if there are no real consequences and by using them you put yourself at a disadvantage to your competitors and cost your self lots of money; whats the reason to do it?

  • When I grow up, I hope to be as famous as one of those e-celebs in the IM world. There are many out there with their blogs sucking the dick off all the other e-celebs. You suck my dick and I’ll suck yours later kinda thing. It feels good on the ego you know?

  • Really clever and sophisticated approach, although I made bad experiences with Facebook Ads, too, especially when it comes to selling tangible goods. Prices are much higher than with Adwords and conversions lower. So, it’s a great place to advertise, but not for every niche.

  • @Karl – My main concern with jacking random images isn’t so much from being on the end of legal threats personally, but because I know dating sites are starting to take it more seriously.

    Match are starting to crack the whip and stating that all affiliates must own the images used in their campaigns. You could say that I’m paranoid, but I don’t like giving an advertiser a reason to refuse to pay my leads.

    Regarding the inflated prices, my advice – and again it’s not very politically correct – would be to stick to using stock photo sites but simply use the images without buying them. It’s much less likely that you’re going to get called out on using images that have been taken from an actual stock photo site. And on many of these stock sites, the watermarks are positioned in a way that isn’t going to affect you hacking a 110×80 out of them.

  • “The key is to design a landing page that references your original message..”
    I’d also point out that a custom lp that references your original message not only increases your CTR% and conversions but is essential for getting the ad approved in the first place. If you’ve got a gothic chick on your ad image targeting fans of some goth band but the lp leads the user to a generic dating site you just might get the “The content of this ad does not accurately reflect the product or service advertised.” message from fb.

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