How ad targeting in Facebook affects instant donor conversion Experiment ID: #14278

Buckner International

Buckner International is a global ministry dedicated to the transformation and restoration of the lives we serve. We are a Christ-centered organization that delivers redemptive ministry to the most vulnerable from the beginning to the ending of life.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 4/7/2019 - 4/15/2019

Buckner was running a new offer called Discovering God’s Will on Facebook using purchase optimization, and they wanted to test whether their traditional ad targeting methods were more effective than open targeting, which essentially tells Facebook to find purchasers from a much larger audience. The ads in both versions of the campaign were the exact same- the only change was in targeting method. 

Research Question

Does detailed targeting win out over open targeting in a Facebook campaign optimized for purchases? 


C: Open Targeting
T1: Detailed Targeting


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Open Targeting 0.01%
T1: Detailed Targeting 0.07% 1,046.1% 97.1%

This experiment has a required sample size of 5,001 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 23,628, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 1,046.1% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

Detailed targeting yielded better results, with over 1000% increase in purchases over a week’s time period with the same ad spend in both campaigns. It should be noted that we did not get the volume of conversions we would normally look for with this kind of experiment but since the costs were so much higher with open targeting, we decided to end the experiment rather than continue to spend money on a method that was not proving out.

In theory, giving Facebook the option to find any purchaser, anywhere might seem easier, but detailed targeting would appear to provide helpful parameters for where to find those people from by adding additional parameters for the Facebook algorithm to work with. 

Experiment Documented by...

Allison Jones

Allison is an Optimization Associate at NextAfter. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.