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How to create a custom audience in the Facebook Ads Manager post Apple iOS 14

August 27, 2021

how to create custom audiences on facebook


Understanding and learning how to create a custom audience in the Facebook Ads Manager is crucial to your Facebook Ads success story. Essentially it forms the retargeting component of your Facebook Ads funnel and captures those people that are most likely to buy from you or become a lead. For those of you who are aren’t familiar with what custom audiences are, let’s take a step back.


Custom audiences identify your existing audience on Facebook. They capture users that know you and have already interacted with you. For this reason, custom audiences are used for targeting your warm and hot audience ads, better known as retargeting. To create retargeting ads (to advertise to your warm or hot audiences), head to the ‘Custom Audiences’ section under ‘Audiences’ in the Facebook Ads Manager tools menu. And if you aren’t sure how to find this, it’s worth checking out the video tutorial below.

Let’s head to the Facebook Ads Manager. There I’ll show you how to create custom audiences on Facebook.


The Facebook Ads Manager has a lot of different retargeting options for you warm and hot audiences under ‘Custom Audiences’. These audiences are split into two source types. The first is your ‘Personal Sources’ which captures users that interact with your business via your owned sources such as your website, app, via a customer list (eg. email subscription) or other offline activity. The second is on app Facebook (and Instagram Sources) such as video views, Facebook and/or Instagram engagement etc. A full list is displayed in the image below.

I won’t go through them all, just those that I believe will give you the most bang for your buck (and are the most used).

First of all, the custom audiences that have historically (and will continue to) perform the best are your personal sources. This is because these people have moved off both Facebook and Instagram and taken a more serious step towards doing business with you. Let me take you through them below.


When it comes to retargeting using custom audiences, I generally find the audiences that perform best are:

  • List of customers who have purchased from you (create using Customer list)
  • Email list  (create using Customer list)
  • Website Visitors


Assuming you have been in business for a minute and have access to this data, go ahead and upload your customer and email lists. Use the video tutorial above if you are unsure how to create a custom audience in the Facebook Ads Manager. These personal source audiences will be the highest quality leads when it comes to retargeting your warm and hot leads.


Next up, we want to capture your website visitors. To do this, you’ll need to have the pixel installed on your website. My recommendation here is to select ‘All website visitors’ and opt for the highest retention rate of 365 days. This is the largest you can make this custom audience type. We can get more specific and there are times you would do this but I’m going to keep it simple. This will capture anyone that has visited your site AND hasn’t opted out of ads as a result of the Apple iOS 14 update.

Be sure to capture these three lists mentioned above FIRST. We know from running multiple ad campaigns over the years that these three sources are much more likely to buy from you or become a lead than the other custom audiences available.


You can get more narrow with those audiences but given the huge decrease in audience pool size post Apple iOS 14, we want to advertise to as many people as possible to give Facebook the best possible chance of finding people that will buy from us. And trust me, we’ve lost a lot of visibility over website visitors, so we need to buff that list up. You would also add App activity as a fourth list if you had an App, but this is much less common.

Once you’ve created those lists, it’s time to consider you on Facebook (and Instagram) sources. Give our audience size has decreased dramatically on ‘website visitors’ post Apple iOS 14, we need to make it bigger. But which sources are best to choose from when it comes to Facebook (and Instagram) options?

I just want to first remind you that the Facebook sources aren’t going to be as warm. That’s because they likely haven’t left the apps and shown interest and/or engaged with your brand. They haven’t taken the necessary steps to warrant being targeted…until NOW! But why now? The reason is because iOS 14 restricts Facebook and Instagram’s ability to track people on third party websites. That basically means their ability to track behaviour once users have left the app and moved to a website is limited. This now makes it especially important to target people on Facebook and Instagram so that we have full visibility over which users are interacting with our brand and how.

To combat the Apple iOS changes, we should increase the total audience pool by increasing some in app sources. If you therefore target people on in app sources such as people that have engaged with your Facebook or Instagram account, have watched a video or even filled out a lead form, they won’t be affected by iOS 14 update. That’s because Facebook and Instagram track this data. It won’t be impacted by the privacy laws going forward either (that we are aware of) so you can feel more secure in this data collection mode. Even if your core three audiences mentioned above continue to be impacted in the future, rest assured these audiences won’t be.

When you’re learning how to create a custom audience in the Facebook Ads Manager, it’s worth considering which custom audience will be best for your business. This all depends on what type of platforms you have (Facebook and/or Instagram) and the type of content you run.


First up, if you run video content, and you have a decent page following that watch your videos, this would be a good Facebook source for you to capture. Create a custom audience of people that have watch a video on Facebook (see the video tutorial for the options available). To ensure the audience is a little warmer, opt to an audience that has watched at least 25% to 50% of your video/s. That means, they’ll only be added to your list if they’ve watched at least that percentage of the video.

A few recommendations:

  • If your video is long, you may want to go with a small percentage eg. 25%.
  • If your video is short eg. 45 seconds, a view length of at least 50% would be recommended to gauge interest. Three seconds of viewing isn’t going to cut it.
  • Keep your retention at 365 days, this will again increase your audience pool size.
  • Select videos that relate to your final offer.


If you’re using lead generation campaigns, then it makes sense to use ‘Lead form’ as a custom audience. These people are likely to be people that are already on your email list anyway. This is a great option to add to your retargeting if you run these types of ads and have this data available.


A great custom audience Facebook source to select post Apple iOS is Instagram engagement. There are numerous types of interactions to choose from, see the video tutorial above for a full list. You can go very broad to very narrow in your targeting and this will depend on the volume of your followers. Most people will want to go with the largest pool of people and select ‘Anyone that has engaged with your professional account’ with a retention of 365 days. If you have a huge audience size, you may want to get more specific in who you target eg. People who saved any post or ad.


Lastly and least for this guide on how to create a custom audience in Facebook Ads Manager, let’s look at the Facebook source ‘Facebook Page’. Similarly, to Instagram there are very general levels of engagement that can be selected to much more specific. See the video tutorial above on how to create custom audience on Facebook for more details here.

Again here, most people will go with the default to keep the audience size large. Facebook organic reach is considerably low so it’s worth keeping your audience pool big. Here I recommend selecting ‘Everyone who engaged with your audience’ with a retention of 365 days. Keep your audience sizes big.

As you can see there are other options you could select under Facebook sources, but I’ve covered the ones that will apply to the vast majority of you.

Of all the custom audience I mentioned above, start with the core personal sources if they’re available. And then add what Facebook sources you have available. It’s very likely that you won’t have all of them.


Another important step to custom audiences is learning how to create a Facebook retargeting ad campaign post Apple iOS 14 (see the video tutorial above for full details).

We need to adapt our strategy and methods for this iOS 14 update.

In your Facebook Ads Campaign, head to the ad set level. This is where we set up our targeting for our Facebook Ads. Within the ‘custom audience’ box, select all the custom audiences you created into the one ad set. That’s right, we create a retargeting ad set within a CBO (Campaign Budget Optimisation) campaign as opposed to an entire retargeting campaign itself. Bet you didn’t expect that.

And this is how we create custom lists in the Facebook Ads Manager post Apple iOS 14.

Remember: if you’re a large brand with a huge established customer and email list and a lot of website visitors, you won’t need to worry as much about the Facebook custom audience sources. If you have a small audience, you will. It’s a quality vs. size trade off and you have to work with what you’ve got. Consider your circumstances and apply accordingly.

Lastly and as always TEST! Test if the new additional Facebook custom source audiences add value or not to your bottom line. Check the data and if they don’t, remove them. If they do, keep them in. It’s imperative to test your ads to get results and bring down your cost per lead/conversion.

Hopefully this has given you some insight in how to create custom audiences post Apple iOS on Facebook Ads.

For help targeting new, cold audiences, see our recent blog ‘How to choose interests for Facebook Ads step-by-step‘.


Want to leverage Facebook Ads to generate low cost leads and sales? Here are a few resources I put together to help you:

  1. Download my 6 Must-Dos for Facebook Ads Success

It’s a practical workbook on the six actions you must take to achieve Facebook Ads success.

2. Apply for access to my free Facebook Ads tutorials

Need helping creating your Facebook Ads? Apply now and get access to my free tutorials where I show you the exact steps I take to achieve low cost leads and sales using Facebook Ads.

3. Have a question, shoot me a message

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