33% of Facebook Ad interests are inaccurate or irrelevant!*

*According to a new study from North Carolina State University, Facebook has been mistargeting up to a third of its interest based ads!


What does that mean for your advertising campaigns?

Okay, let’s not get carried away. This was a small study but it does raise the question – should advertisers be relying heavily on interest based advertising?

The answer? NO! Well, not as much as they have been that is for sure…

Facebook’s inferred interest targeting has been a cornerstone of their advertising success but it’s never been 100% accurate. As the study reveals, Facebook’s systems can’t always distinguish between negative and positive interest – so if you post anything about Harry Potter you’re likely to receive ads about Harry Potter products.
Great for those who love the Potterverse but not so great for those who don’t believe in magic!

So what’s an advertiser to do?

1. Do continue to test interest based targeting

It’s still correct some of the time and you can still find success. But think about narrowing your audiences, so they have to hold interests in X AND Y, not just X or Y.

2. Use Lookalikes

We find audiences of those who look similar to your previous customers, supporters or engagers to be highly successful. Plus you’re not just focusing on interest targeting but multiple factors.


You are still beholden to Facebook’s (Meta’s) systems but as long as you’re feeding in your most up to date data you have it’ll be pretty accurate.

3. Track ad performance

This isn’t new advice but there is some speculation that Apple’s new tracking changes may also be affecting Facebook’s interest based targeting (like it’s affecting almost everything else) so we all need to keep a closer eye on what’s working, what isn’t, and make decisions based on our own data.

4. Encourage ad control transparency

Getting more Facebook users to understand their ad targeting controls could correct inaccuracies in their ad preferences and mean you can serve them more relevant ads they’ll want to engage with.

Want to learn more?

We wish you the best of luck in your ad targeting endeavours. As always, advertising is all about testing, learning and optimising…

So get out there and get testing. Let us know if you discover anything we’ve missed.

If you’d like more advice you know where to find us… here (if you didn’t know).

James Armstrong
James Armstrong
Creative Director

James is a strategic and analytical thinker with a creative flair and love for the psychology of social media. He's been working in marketing and communications since 2012 and specialised in social media when launching Social Firefly in 2018. He's an ever struggling piano player, a fair weather sea kayaker and a travel lover.