How to Leverage the Facebook Audience Overlap Tool

Flex Targeting (1)

I know how you feel…

Do you ever find it hard to keep up with all the latest Facebook changes?

They are always adding new tools and features for marketers, and it’s hard to know what’s worth using and what isn’t…

But one thing is for sure…

If you want to get even MORE laser specific with your Facebook targeting…then you NEED to be using the Facebook Audience Overlap Tool. 

If you’re already familiar with the benefits of Facebook’s Audience Insights tool, you might be tempted to assume that the Overlap Tool is too similar to bother learning how to use.

This is a mistake!

Although both of these tools help you to better understand your audience, they do it in vastly different ways.

Audience Insights delivers information about individuals, such as their age, gender, relationship status, job title, household income, purchase history, and even lifestyle choices, just for example.

The Audience Overlap tool, on the other hand, allows you to compare customer characteristics, in order to see the ways in which different demographics overlap.

This, in turn, can help you to better customize and target your ads.

For example, suppose you have two seemingly diverse groups you advertise to, such as stay-home moms and corporate executives.

These two groups may not have much in common on the surface, but with the Overlap Tool you could compare them to see if members share any overlapping interests, such as purchases of athletic apparel or travel bookings.

This information could help you to target these demographics in unique ways, expanding your reach with less effort and expense while also increasing the likelihood of seeing a response.

Of course, you’ll first have to figure out how to use the tool and leverage it for the best advantage.

Here’s How to Use the Facebook Audience Overlap Tool

Before you do anything, you need to know where to find the Audience Overlap Tool.

Go into your ads account and click “Tools” and then “Audiences.

Once you do that, click the checkbox next to the audiences you want to compare.

For example, here I want to see the overlap between a Lookalike Audience of my Facebook fans and a Lookalike Audience of my email list:

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Once I do that, I click on “Actions” and then “Show Audiences Overlap:”

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And then the magic happens…


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Now I can see that 940,500 people overlap in these two audiences (that’s 50%).

Whether you interpret that as a good or bad thing is up to you.

One thing is for certain though, there are creative ways to use this to improve your Facebook ads and bring in more targeted leads and customers.

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of Facebook’s Audience Overlap tool.

Utilize Saved Audiences

Like Audience Insights, the Audience Overlap tool has some restrictions designed to protect the relative privacy of its users.

The groups you select must have at least 1,000 people.

However, you do have the option to compare three specific types of audiences: custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and saved audiences.

You can compare these types any way you like; custom to custom, custom to lookalike, saved to lookalike, etc.

Where the tool really shines is with the last group.

Businesses have the ability to create saved audience groups based on a single characteristic or multiple factors like traits, interests, purchasing behavior, and so on.

So maybe I want to see how much overlap there is between people who like Kim Kardashian and people who like the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot (just a thought…)

If I want to, I can do that!

Since you can compare one saved audience to another, this gives you virtually unlimited opportunity to look for very specific overlaps in order to target niches that competitors may never see.

Check out the Competition (…without Them Knowing)

The possibilities for comparison are endless…

But how can you determine the comparisons that are going to best help you target an audience for upcoming marketing campaigns?

One place to start is by looking at overlap with competitors.

How many of your customers are also shopping with competitive brands?


Knowing this can help you to target consumers that are interested in your brand, but aren’t yet loyal customers.

This gives you the opportunity to create targeted ads with the intent of convincing these consumers to support your brand exclusively.

When you know exactly who you’re competing with, you have a much better chance to fight them head on and win over customers.

Find Overlap Within Your Own Groups

The Audience Overlap tool allows you to compare up to five groups at once, giving you the opportunity to see how your Facebook followers, email subscribers, website visitors, paying customers, and so on overlap.

You might be surprised to discover that certain groups don’t have much overlap.

Suppose you come to the startling realization that only a tiny percentage of your Facebook followers have actually visited your website or purchased your products.

That would be a big blow to your ego, right?


But once you know this, you can target followers with ads and promotions specifically designed to convert them to visitors or compel them to make purchases, just for example, and it shouldn’t be too difficult since they already have some interest in your brand.

Create and Compare Lookalikes

This is what you saw me do in the example at the beginning of this post…

Audiences that share similar traits or interests to the custom audiences that are already your Facebook fans, members of your mailing list, or paying customers can help you to extend your reach to new consumers that are likely to be interested in your brand and your products.

Once you’ve created lookalike audiences, you can use the overlap tool to compare them.

Just as you compare your own fans, email subscribers, and patrons, you can compare lookalikes to your custom groups for overlap and compare them to other lookalike groups.

The information you gather through Facebook’s Audience Overlap tool can only help you to gain insight into current and prospective customers, allowing you to tailor your marketing strategies in new and more successful ways.

What Do You Think?

Have you played around with the Audience Overlap Tool?

What creative ways can you use it in your business?


About The Author

Jeremy Salem is the President of SmartStep Media, a digital marketing agency, and an author, product creator and online business strategist at Digital Traffic Ace. He is also a diehard sports fan, who constantly paces around the coffee table and screams at the TV during games. Beyond that, he is well-known for paying $22 every three weeks for a haircut, even though he’s been going bald since his senior year of high school. Lastly, his “professional” photo that you see on this website was actually taken by his wife in their kitchen on a random Tuesday morning.


  1. Nice Article..Opens up new possibilities to explore, target and monetize…Meanwhile…

    “So maybe I want to see how much overlap there is between people who like Kim Kardashian and people who like the song “Baby Got Back”


  2. Thanks for the ideas on how to use the audience overlap tool.
    My initial idea on using it was to check smaller interests before adding them to my ad set, to see if they’re already included in the ones I’m already targeting.