How Does Meta Choose Who To Show Your Ads To?

How Does Meta Choose Who To Show Your Ads To?

How does Meta decide who to show your ads to – and what is it that tells Meta that audience is the right audience?


Every day, every nano-second you spend on social media apps your use, behaviour, movements… literally anything you do (right down to the content you hover over to read) on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter and the rest of the fam is monitored, noted and used to personalise your feeds. Naturally, this extends to the sponsored posts you’re seeing as well.

It’s important to know, as users, how we are contributing to our own little bubbles on social media – and obviously, it’s important as advertisers to understand how and why our ads are delivered to who they’re delivered to.

You’re probably thinking the answer to “how does Meta decide who to show our ads to?” is simple. Targeting, right?


But… how do they know who falls under which targeting groups?


Signals are behavioural data that a machine learning model uses to make predictions. Enabling the use of first-party data to drive improvements in ROI.  

Signals are the motivator behind the optimisation.

When you optimise your ads for certain behaviours – say, landing page views within a traffic campaign – you’re telling Meta to find people ‘likely to’ complete that action. Within the realms of your desired targeting, of course.

And the way Meta knows who likely falls within those targeting parameters is determined by the signals we send to the system as users every day.

If you buy via Facebook ads a lot (or purchase on websites with Facebook/Meta tracking installed… which is like.. all of them) you’re sending buyer signals to Meta – and are more likely to receive ads from campaigns that Advertisers have set to CONVERSIONS (SALES) > PURCHASE. 

If you are a blog reader, but don’t tend to much action on websites, you might receive TRAFFIC> LANDING PAGE optimised ads.

If you’re a commenter or liker, but don’t really follow links off the feed very often, you’re probably going to receive designed and optimised for on-platform engagement such as TRAFFIC > LINK CLICKS (This is engagement on app, not a website action!) or ENGAGEMENT> POST ENGAGEMENT. 

So when you create campaigns, you need to be thinking about parallel factors:

  1. what is the meaningful business outcome I desire to achieve with my budget? and;
  2. What kind of user behaviour am I looking to attract?

Then, you’ll pair this with considerations such as:

  • Do I expect or want the end goal to happen now (eg. purchases or traffic to my site?)
  • Do I have a plan to retarget the actions I get which are not directly contributing to my end goal (eg. video views on an ad which was designed for conversions)
  • Am, I creating ads likely to attract the kind of user I am hoping to capture? (eg. If I am looking engagement on my post, am I using an engaging piece of creative? Why would someone be compelled to complete the action I desire?)

This article is a Work In Progress and is being updated as new information and data comes to light. Stay in the loop by joining the Facebook group Meta Ads Made Easy



About the Author
Jess Riches is a Co-Founder of Enriches Business, Social Media Marketing Expert and Creative Marketing Manager for the Agency. Jess divides her time between overseeing client campaigns, assisting with the strategic approach, copywriting and ad design, delivering workshops to small and medium business owners and marketing teams, being a mum and relaxing on her Gympie property surrounded by birds, chickens, kangaroos and trees with a vino in hand. Get in touch with Jess here.



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