9 Steps to Supercharging your Facebook Campaigns Without any Customer Data Using Video Views

By John King | 8th May 2019 Paid Social
John King 9 min read
9 Steps to Supercharging your Facebook Campaigns Without any Customer Data Using Video Views


If you’ve ever run a Facebook Ads campaign with a newly created pixel and no customer data, you’ll know how hard it is to get traction with your chosen audience.


In most cases, you’ll have a CRM full of great client data, at various stages of the sales process which you can upload into Facebook to create re-targeting audiences, Look-a-like audiences, and Lifetime Value (LTV) audiences – the life-blood of most successful social campaigns.


Sometimes though, you might not have that luxury.


Maybe you’re a brand new company with no customers, and perhaps you’re diversifying and trying to sell an entirely different product or service, rendering your current data irrelevant. The reasons are numerous, but sometimes you have to start from scratch.


If you have no customer data, out of the box, you have two options.


#1 You can show your ad to everyone and see who bites.

#2 You can use interest-based targeting to try and narrow your audience to those who you think will be most interested in your product or service.


Neither are very good.


The first option isn’t very good for obvious reasons (but we’ll make use of this), and the second is also less than impressive because the ‘interests’ that Facebook automatically assigns to you are rarely accurate.


To see this for yourself, check you’re logged into Facebook and click here to see your interests.



Why interest-based targeting on Facebook is a bit rubbish

Some of these interests will be based on pages you’ve ‘liked’, which is fair. Many of them, however, are automatically assigned to you based on your behaviour and interaction with Facebook posts.


Below is a selection of my ‘interests’:


Facebook interest auto-tagging doesn't work all that well


I go through phases of running silly miles, so the Garmin and ASICS tags are fair.


But I assure you, I’ve no interest in Agriculture, ‘student’, woodworking or ‘BuzzFeed’ (I’ve already taken the quiz to work out which Disney princess I am, featured at the end of this post) and I’m fortunate not to have bowel cancer (number 23 in the grid).


Some other favourites:


Yet more examples of Facebook's auto-tagging gone awry


I digress, there’s a good 13 years’ worth of likes and ‘auto tags’ we could go through, but hopefully you can see why ‘interest’ based targeting isn’t overly helpful or accurate.


Although, if you’re targeting people who have shown an interest in a particular brand (Tide?), there may still be a good reason to try it out as an interest-based audience for your ads.


Anyway, back to the problem at hand.


Options #1 and #2 are bad; but if life gives you lemons, tie life in knots until it gives you what you want.


We’re going to use option #1 (show our ads to everyone and see who bites) to give us a more qualified audience in just a couple of days.


We’ll do this by building audiences from video views.


Don’t worry if you don’t have a video; we’ll deal with that shortly.


Step 1: Get yourself a portrait image

First, go to pexels and download a portrait image of something relating to what you ‘sell’ – or grab this one for the sake of this demo, save it somewhere accessible.


A cropped version of the image we'll use for our video demo


Hop into your Facebook Ads Account and start creating a new campaign:


click the 'create' button


Pick any objective, give it any name. Honestly, none of it matters, you just want to rush through to the ‘ad creation’ bit:


Pick any criteria and scroll through the campaign creation process


Step 2: Create a video from your image

You should eventually find yourself here:


Eventually you'll get here, where you can choose your Facebook ad format



Go ahead and click ‘upload images’


Here you can upload your Facebook ads images


Then select the image we downloaded from Pexels, and it’ll appear in the window:


Now upload the demo image to Facebook


Now, the bit we’re interested in is the section labelled ‘turn images into videos’, below it, there’s a button labelled ‘use templates’, go ahead and click that:


Here you can turn a static image into a Facebook video


You’ll see a window like this:


Here you can select your Facebook video style


On the left select ‘square’, and select the first template, then click ‘Use Template’. Normally I’d pick ‘vertical’ because it gets more attention on mobile, but at the time of writing, this feature is experiencing a glitch and won’t work – so I’ve opted for ‘square’ instead.


You should then see the video creation window:


Change text and add styles to your Facebook video


You can get as fancy as you like with this, but I find that simply editing the text and darkening the text background is enough, you can see this in the gif below.


Here's what it could look like


Voila! You have a video.

It won’t win any Lions at Cannes, but it’ll do for our purposes.


Our rough and ready Facebook video ad

Step 3: Create a new campaign using your video in an advert

If you’re reading this, you should be able to build your own Facebook campaigns, so I won’t walk you through that, there are plenty of YouTube videos on this.


So go ahead and set one up using this video as your ad. Feel free to create multiple variations.


In the screenshots that follow, the campaign was attached to a lead generation form, if you want to follow this to the letter and do the same. In my targeting, I only include people who LIVE in the United Kingdom (England and Wales if I’m generating law leads). Sometimes I specify an age range if the service absolutely can’t be used by younger or older folks. Otherwise, the Facebook algorithm is free to show my videos to all and sundry.


The reason for this is that people who are genuinely interested in what you’ve got to offer will watch more of your video than those who are not interested. The action of watching a video isn’t as committed an act as submitting a ‘lead’, but it does happen more frequently, and in volume, which makes it a great place to start when we’re trying to generate data quickly for use in future campaigns.


Go ahead and run your campaign for a couple of days with a daily budget of £20.



Step 4: Check out the results

Below, you can see an example of this method at work.


Check your data gathering campaign results


These trial campaigns ran for three days.


A cost per lead of £144.87, in this case, isn’t acceptable, neither is the paltry 19 link clicks – nowhere near enough to begin producing look-a-like or re-targeting audiences. But that’s not what we’re aiming for; for our spend of £144.87, we’ve racked up 2,939 video views of varying lengths.


For the initiated among you, you’ll also know that you can generate custom audiences based on the percentage of a video someone has watched – so you can segment out those users who viewed 95% of your video, 75%, 50% etc. The premise is that the more of your video a person watched, the more interested they are.


As you can see from the results above, most users viewed at least 62% of our video, so we have a fair bit to work with.


It’s, therefore, time to build our data-based audiences.



Step 5: Build a custom ‘seed’ audience

We’re about to create a custom audience that collects together all the people in our trial who watched 95% of our video. It’s not our intention to target them again (although you could, with a re-targeting campaign). Instead, we’ll use this ‘seed’ audience to create four MUCH bigger audiences.


Go to your Facebook Ads Manager, open the main menu and find ‘audiences’ under Assets:


Go to 'Assets' and then 'Audiences'


Then click ‘Create Audience’ > ‘Custom Audience’


Create a custom Facebook audience


You’ll be shown this pop-up window. Click on ‘video’.


Select 'Video Views' as your custom audience type


You’ll then see this popup:


Create your video engagement custom audience


Click into ‘engagement’ and select ‘people who have watched at least 95% of your video.’


Now select those who have watched 95% of your video


Then, you’ll need to choose your videos. Click ‘choose videos’:


Click 'Choose videos...'


Then select the videos you used in your trial data gathering campaign and hit ‘confirm’:


Now select all the videos you used in your data gathering campaign

You should then see a screen like the one below, give your audience a descriptive name, leave it at 365 days and click ‘Create Audience’:


Now give your custom video view audience a descriptive name


Your audience will then begin populating; this can take anywhere between five and thirty minutes, sometimes hours if Facebook is making internal changes or if there’s a bug:


Now your custom audience will populate


So make a brew and put your feet up, or try to attack that overwhelming inbox.


In any event, refresh the page on occasion until the ‘populating’ message disappears, like so:


Here's what your custom audience should look like when populated



Step 6: Build your look-a-like audiences

Now we have our ‘seed’ audience; we can create look-a-like audiences from this to varying degrees of similarity.


We’re ultimately asking Facebook to create a model of our ideal user based upon the attributes of those people who watched 95% of our rough and ready video. These Look-a-like audiences will deviate from this ‘ideal’ model by varying degrees.


Let’s jump in.


Back under Assets > Audiences, click ‘create audience’ and ‘Lookalike Audience’:


Navigate to 'audiences' > 'Create Audience' and 'Lookalike Audience'


You’ll see this window:


You should see this Facebook lookalike audience window


First, select your Lookalike ‘source’; this will be the 95% video view audience we just created. Then specify where these users need to be located, here I’ve chosen the United Kingdom:


Now select the 'seed' audience we create earlier


Next, we want to create four Lookalike audiences under ‘select audience size’. To do this, under ‘Number of Lookalike Audiences’, select ‘4’ from the dropdown menu and drag the resulting sliders, so they resemble the segments below:


Now, create four lookalike audience segments


In doing this, we’re asking Facebook to find audiences who resemble our seed audience, with a percentage margin for deviation. Your 1% audience will most closely resemble your seed audience, drifting slowly away from the ‘ideal’ until you get to 10%.


The theory is that the closer the audience is to your seed audience, the better the performance, conversion rates and lead costs, but this isn’t always the case.


Test, test and test again until you find audiences and segments that work for you.


Hit ‘create audience’, and once again, wait for these new audiences to populate:


Once again, it's time to put your feet up while your audiences populate!


These are likely to take longer, so don’t fret when you see ‘below 1,000’ under ‘size’, this will increase as the audience grows.

When complete, it should look something like this:


Voila, your lookalike audiences have been populated

Step 7: Marvel at your work

You just created ‘something’ from almost nothing, without the GDPR headache of buying murky data to build out your audiences. If you’ve been saving some celebratory biscuits in your desk drawer, now’s the time to crack them out, excellent work.


Step 8: Put your new audiences to use

Here’s one I made earlier.


Using exactly the same technique for video views, and for people who engaged with the lead form, I ran the following trial campaign for a client below:


Here you can see the overall results from the subsequent lead generation campaign


Once the ‘data gathering’ campaign was out of the way, we were generating leads for £9.93 each. A veritable bargain.

If you include our data gathering spend of £75.53 in this case, it comes out at £14.21 per lead, which is still pretty good. I should also add that this client didn’t have a website (just a single landing page) and had a non-standard pixel implementation, which makes results like these all the more impressive (if I do say so myself).


The beauty of this now, is that we can use the ‘lead submissions’ data we’re now able to collect, to create even better conversion-centric audiences – which wouldn’t have been possible without the ‘video views’ audience, which you can see performed much better than the others.


You can see a break down of those stats in the ad set below:


The final lead generation campaign results


Note how the 2%-3% audience was the best performer?

Test everything.


Step 9: Video view all of the things!

This technique, and some parts of it, have much broader applications, so experiment. Set up longer videos, create video view re-targeting audiences, experiment with square videos and vertical videos.




Bonus: Which Disney Princess am I?


If you really wanted to find out what Disney princess I am according to BuzzFeed, here you go. Are you happy now?


My Disney princess quiz result was Cinderella


As ever, drop me an email with your thoughts. Have a go yourself and let me know how you get on!



John King
John King

Director and Founder at Leahy+King, I'm responsible for project delivery, performance management, analysis and delivering (what I hope) is great client service. When I'm not mucking about with new Facebook advertising features and content analysis, you can find me running and complaining about it loudly on Strava.


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