What is audience overlap?
Audience overlap is a common issue marketers face when advertising on platforms that build native audiences or lookalikes. Often marketing teams will create two separate ad sets for a campaign, but end up reaching more or less the same audience despite trying to target different audiences. So rather than expanding their reach, brands are inadvertently oversaturating their audiences — which can frustrate consumers and result in wasted spend.
Why are advertisers experiencing audience overlap?
Honestly, we aren’t sure. Many advertising platforms that generate audiences using brands’ uploaded first-party customer data in combination with the platform’s third-party data — Facebook, for example — don’t provide much insight into how they build those audiences. Faraday Data Scientists have seen time and time again Facebook pulling the same people into audiences, regardless of the target result (e.g. add-to-carts, clicks). We chalk it up to the training data.
How audience overlap impacts brand reach
Audience overlap costs marketers valuable opportunities to reach leads. To serve the best ad to as many of the best leads as possible, brands must know who their customers are — but tracking just consumers’ digital footprints to guide ad creative isn't enough. One way to mitigate this issue is to upload custom audiences built with real-world, offline data.
We've seen a significant reduction in overlap between Faraday's custom audiences (from our third-party consumer database) and Facebook Lookalike audiences.
This approach has two key benefits: it addresses the problem of oversaturation and expands advertisers' potential reach beyond the ad platform's built-in capabilities.
Reducing audience overlap to optimize ad spend
When ad sets overlap, they can compete against each other for visibility and unnecessarily increase marketing costs. Consistently monitoring overlap in the Facebook Audience Overlap Tool and uploading custom audiences that limit any duplication will be key here when thinking about ways to optimize spend and lower customer acquisition cost.
Does audience overlap apply to other channels?
Overlap can happen on any channel where you build lookalike audiences, whether it’s Facebook or Hulu or Snapchat. Some platforms have taken measures to decrease the risk of oversaturating audiences by installing frequency caps on ads. Hulu, for example, now makes sure that no ad is shown more than twice in an hour. But some customers have still reported seeing the same ads many times. This may be because of audience overlap — when Hulu runs an ad against multiple audiences, customers that are in more than one audience could see it again and again.
So, just because platforms are working to make ad experiences better doesn’t mean that brands don’t also have to put in the work. Because ultimately, this sort of viewer exhaustion can drive customers away, rather than reinforcing brand recognition and leading to conversions.