Ideas & Innovation

Facebook Audience Overlapping – The Silent Killer of Your Ad Performance

Facebook Audience Overlapping – The Silent Killer of Your Ad Performance
Feb. 11,

Facebook advertising isn’t as simple as it may seem. Whatever your level of experience may be, you’re likely to make a few mistakes. A common error among users, which we are going to discuss, is by far the most frequent mistake made that can defeat powerful outcomes for advertising. This indiscretion is “Audience Overlapping.”

This article is going to explain what Facebook audience overlapping is, and why it’s considered to be the silent killer of your ad performance. We will also dive into how you calculate audience overlap percentage and how you can overcome the problem.

What is Audience Overlap?

Audience overlap occurs when people promote content to two or more similar target audiences. Overlapping audiences is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to inadequate delivery of your ads, which can affect your desired results. Not understanding how to recognize and prevent audience overlapping can cause you to waste a lot of your time and money in going after the same person.

To better understand this problem, let’s look at the structure of a Facebook campaign. Every campaign has multiple ad sets, and each set has numerous ads. Different ads are competing with one another under a single set. This is not a problem, as you want to display multiple ads to your audiences with the same goal in mind. This way, you can calculate the performance of your ads. With these calculations, you can evaluate the efficiency of your ads, and can enhance your Facebook marketing strategy.

Nine times out of ten, audience overlapping can occur when you are creating your 2nd and 3rd ad set. At this point, the structure of your different sets may have similar interests. Let’s look at an example:

You own a company named XYZ that sells cosmetic products online, and you have created three different ad sets with “unique” audiences.

  • Your 1st target audience is interest-based. You know that a large portion of your customers are concerned about their face, so you created a targeted audience interested in face wash products.
  • You based your 2nd targeted audience on demographics. Your audience is made up of 20-to-45-year-old women, which are your best female customers.
  • You then created your 3rd audience, which is a 1% look-a-like to your previous customers. You completed this by uploading your current list of customers to Facebook.

These targeted audiences are part of a commonly-structured Facebook campaign. Let’s look at how an audience overlap error may arise in this situation.

Your three audiences will most likely have several shared interests between them, such as:

  • Among the audience interested in face wash, you will probably find women who are between 20 and 45 years of age.
  • Among the women who are 20-to-45-years-old, there will be some who are interested in face wash.
  • While many of your customers may be similar, your look-a-like audience will also contain both sets of women — those who are between 20 and 45 years of age, and those who are interested in face wash.

When you start to compete against yourself, the expenses you are putting toward your ads increase. The frequency in which your ads are getting displayed also becomes limited. As a result, you pay more than what you should be paying.

Stop paying Facebook to advertise against yourself! Once you do this, you will see a dramatic improvement in your ROI.

How to Discover Audience Overlap?

If the size of your target audience is too small, you will saturate your audience with your advertising quickly. But, if you have multiple audiences in the millions, people will belong to more than one audience, thus creating the overlap. So, how do you check for this audience overlap issue, and how do you identify which audience set you should target?

The audience overlap tool that Facebook provides is all you will ever need! With this tool, you can check the percentages when your different audiences begin to overlap. This tool is in the audience section of the Facebook ads manager. Simply follow these steps:

  • Locate the audience section in the Facebook ads manager
  • Select the audiences you wish to compare. (You can select up to 5 at one time)
  • Click “action” then “show audience overlap”


The tool will show both the “overlap” and the “% overlap of selected audience.” The “overlap” column shows the number of people in the selected audiences. The “% overlap of selected audience” column compares the number of people in both audiences to the total number of people in the selected audience. This allows you to see the overlap percentage.

Due to privacy reasons, the audience overlap tool does not allow you to analyze an audience that is less than 1,000 people.

How can you avoid advertising against yourself?

The most frequent question asked while calculating the overlap is, “How can I avoid pitting my Facebook ads against each other?”

We have listed the two most promising solutions for your problem:

  1. Consolidation of overlapping ad sets: If you have more than one ad set that targets similar audiences, then you can combine these sets into one larger budget, acquiring better results.
  1. Enhance your targeting: By using the audience’s age, gender, location, interest, and/or behavior-based targeting, you can assure each ad set has the precise targeting method.

Both the consolidation and refinement methods are effective means to fixing your marketing problem. By making a few simple adjustments to your advertising strategy, you can stop paying more and start receiving better results.

Go ahead and try it! If you have any questions, shoot us a message on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Cibirix/ or contact us directly at www.cibirix.com. We’ll be glad to help!

About Author

Prashant Yadu

Prashant Yadu

SEO/SMO Analyst

Prashant Yadu is a Social Media Analyst at Cibirix, and he’s now been part of our team for over five years. His particular area of focus for us revolves around Facebook advertising. With the help of his analytical skills and creative ideas, Prashant has helped to generate some remarkable results for our marketing clients. Before diving deeper into social media marketing, Prashant’s work focused on search engine optimization, where he handled both On-Page & Off-Page SEO for business clients. When he’s not hard at work, Prashant enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and hanging out with friends/family.

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