How to Target a Facebook Ad to a Specific Individual

Also Known As Welcome to the World of Nano-Targeting

By Published on .

Sam Lessin at Facebook's f8 event.
Sam Lessin at Facebook's f8 event.
People have been talking about micro-targeting online for a very, very long time. It is the foundation of much of Web 2.0 search and social-ad-driven models. But what about nano-targeting? Yesterday, using Facebook, I created a series of nano-targeted advertisements targeted at specific individuals. For example, I set one up for my girlfriend, "Sending my love ..." All I needed to do was target an ad to: "Wall Street Journal reporters who are 25, graduated from Harvard with a history degree and live in San Francisco."

Facebook told me my population was "less than 20 people" -- but I know it is a population of one. I also set one up for one of my teammates that says "back to work" by targeting "employees of who live in Texas."

The best part is that because I pay per click and I know there is only one person who will click on it -- maybe once -- I can bid on the cost-per-click at a ridiculously high price. For now this is just silly, but consider that you could see people doing this for real/for business sooner rather than later and it brings up interesting privacy concerns (although all you really can tell is if the person is using Facebook).

My next step is to start pranking other small start-ups we compete with and possibly friends and old colleagues. I also might make a "blank" advertisement specifically targeting myself with a crazy cost-per-click to bump all the other advertising off my personal Facebook experience.*

*For the astute search-engine marketing reader: Yes, based on "quality" score, this game might not work forever if I don't actually click my own ad, but that is another story for another day.

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Sam Lessin is founder and CEO of, a public/private file-sharing website. You can follow his exploits by subscribing to his own feed.
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