Facebook needs no introduction as it is the most preferred social media platform, with over 2.9 billion monthly active users worldwide. With a large user base like this, it’s clear that marketing your brand via Facebook ads is a great way to get numerous qualified leads. Facebook ads build brand awareness by steering quality traffic to your website. They have become an integral part of advertising strategies for business growth.

An effective Facebook ad campaign can go viral, increasing your online visibility and resulting in more followers and, eventually, more sales and revenue. However, no matter your experience level, there are a few tricky challenges that marketers and advertisers have to overcome while advertising on Facebook; and one such example is audience overlap.

What is Facebook Audience Overlap?

Audience Overlap is when you are sponsoring ads to multiple audiences at once where a single person could be in all of them. It means marketing to the same audience with different ad sets. In such cases, you are paying for ads to run against each other, and the outcome can be affected drastically. When your ads are about to enter the auction, Facebook first chooses the ad with the highest total value, and any other ad sets won’t be considered. Facebook has this feature to prevent you from bidding against yourself.

Audience Overlap is a genuine problem when advertising on Facebook, and it can hamper your ability to reach your audience and drive up your costs. This causes multiple challenges and can overthrow your entire campaign.

While creating a Facebook Ad, you first need to create an audience. An integral part of getting your ads right is understanding your audience and choosing suitable targets on Facebook. If you lack clarity on identifying and averting audience overlap, you waste time and money targeting the same person through your ads.

When you compete against yourself, the cost of your ads increases and the frequency that your ads are displayed becomes limited. As a result, you pay more for fewer results. Keep away from paying to advertise against yourself, and you will notice an improvement in your Return on Improvement (ROI).

How is audience overlap harmful?

The downside to audience overlap is paying twice the money for the same users, thus causing ad fatigue. If you are advertising with 1% lookalike and 2% lookalike on two separate ad sets, people in your 1% lookalike may see your message twice. This will be an issue if you are trying to reach the highest number of people in your budget. Ad fatigue may annoy your users, and they end up hiding your ad or leaving negative comments, rendering your campaign redundant.  

Limitations of Facebook Audience Manager

Facebook audience manager is an excellent tool to create, manage, and reach the targeted audience for your ad campaigns. It makes managing your social media ad campaigns easy with user-friendly features.

Facebook displays Venn diagrams that present the amount of overlap between the first audience and each additional audience, the percentage of overlap and the number of people overlapping. This allows you to understand the overlap percentage.

However, it also has limitations, such as:  

  • It cannot display the overlap with active ad sets.
  • Audience-to-audience overlap is limited only to specific audiences, and it takes significant time to check the overlap manually.
  • It does not evaluate audiences with less than 1,000 people for privacy reasons.
  • When you realize an overlap has occurred, you will have lost a lot of money, and your ad reach drops.

How to use Alavi to identify overlap instantly

Alavi insight is an audience research tool where you can find audiences belonging to your customers. Alavi can generate 100s of hidden audiences you to target via your campaigns. In addition, Alavi automatically shows the ad set overall for each audience, making it easy to identify the overlap and the overlapping ad sets. This allows you to make an informed decision to launch an ad set knowing the settings of overlapping ad sets such as product, ads and targeting.  

How to Avoid Negative Overlap?

Compile the Ad sets  

If ads under different ad sets target the same audience, then compile these sets into a single ad set to acquire better results.

Improve your targeting

Use a more precise targeting approach using the audience's interests, demographics, and behavior.

Refresh your Content

Curate fresh content to keep your audience engaged, preserving a feeling of loyalty toward your brand.

Prioritize your audience

Avoid creating multiple ad sets with similar audiences if you are advertising the same product. If you discover audience overlap, give priority to the audience who are most important.  

CBO Campaign

CBO is useful when the algorithm has a free rule from data and metrics. If you set many limitations on ad spending, the algorithm has less flexibility. Don't target multiple ad sets with high overlap audiences, as this will limit ad spending for the new ad set.

How to Create a Healthy Overlap?

Experiencing audience overlap is not a severe issue that cannot be resolved. Combining similar ad sets and campaigns effectively finds more opportunities for your budget. Imagine you have two ad sets with the same objective and creativity, one targeted at men and the other at women.  

You can enhance the performance by combining those ad sets and expanding the audience to include all genders. This way, compiling ad sets will help you quickly get the desired results.


To ensure audience overlap doesn’t ruin your Facebook marketing efforts, you can use Alavi to automatically check the overlap with the live ad set and show the top 10 ad sets with targeting.  

What’s more, it calculates the overlap percentage - so you can keep a close watch on the same and optimize performance accordingly. Book a demo now to elevate your ad campaigns and get the conversion rates of your dreams!

Use Alavi and Scale Without Fear

Developed for small and medium businesses, Alavi is a martech application that performs predicative analytics on your customers’ behavioural data. By combining AI, machine learning and automation, it helps digital marketers better understand their audiences, improve their targeting, and scale confidently profitably.

Alavi has a proven record of helping brands in a variety industries grow their revenue online. It has a very short time-to-value and is easy to setup and use.

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