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An audience of ONE? Social media ad targeting can be VERY precise...

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Yesterday, AdWeek reported the efforts of Brian Swichkow, a social media marketer, who used Facebook's increasingly granular Custom Audiences tool to target his roommate to receive specific advertisements as a prank.

His roommate, a sword swallower, struggles to swallow his daily multivitamins, so Swichkow developed an advertisement for individuals with this particular problem and then used Facebook's targeting engine to deliver the advertisement to his roommate.

Not surprisingly, the roommate was a bit shocked at the incredibly targeted nature of the advertisement.

This specific instance just goes to show how social media allows marketers increasingly precise targeting of their prime prospects, down to an audience of one. Officially, Facebook advertises the following ad targeting options: location, gender, age, likes and interests, relationship status, workplace, and education. However, by using the Custom Audiences feature, which allows a marketer to upload a list of 20 or more individuals who should receive the advertisement, simple manipulations of the list characteristics can allow the targeting of a single individual.

For example, uploading a list of 20 prospects, 19 female and one male, and then targeting a campaign to males only would effectively produce an audience of one for the campaign. What remains to be seen is how marketers will use these new powers. How long will it take for savvy job seekers to get their resume right in front of the hiring manager at a desired company? And would this type of strategy be perceived as proactive or creepy?

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