What is a Lookalike Audience?

By Amy Carraher

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VP of Business Development

What is a Lookalike Audience? 

According to Facebook, a lookalike audience leverages information such as demographics, interests, and social media behaviors of your existing customers to find new people who share similar characteristics. In other words, the best way to find new customers is to look for those with the same demographics, interests, and buying behavior as your best customers. Lookalike audiences allow businesses to target their marketing campaigns more effectively towards individuals who are more likely to convert, resulting in a higher return on investment. 

Do not confuse a lookalike audience with a custom audience. A custom audience utilizes broader characteristics, engagement data, or simple name and email matching to target people who have already interacted with your brand. Lookalike audiences utilize an algorithm to weigh the importance of each identified characteristic and RFM data, to find other potential customers within a given market that exhibit similar purchasing behaviors and household characteristics.

Before Facebook helped grow the term, marketers referred to these as Predictive Data Models, Good Customer Models, or Best Customer Models. Most of the industry now uses the term Lookalike Audience as it gained popularity.

Why are Lookalike Audiences needed? 

Lookalike audiences are a powerful tool for marketing campaigns, allowing businesses to target ads to users who are similar to their existing customers. The benefits of using lookalike audiences include improved campaign performance and lower costs per acquisition. 

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Lookalike Audiences Across Other Platforms

Though Lookalike Audiences all have the same purpose, they are not all built equal. Each social media platform has a unique user base, dataset, and limitations that may impact your campaign’s reach. While they all have their own flavor, each is limited because you can only deploy the lookalike audience on their respective platform.

The one exception is LiftEngine which can build Lookalike Audiences and allow advertisers to use them on any combination of online or offline channels.


Facebook Lookalike audiences require a source audience of at least 100 people in a single country. The targeting options are limited to location, age, and gender. Facebook also has a feature called Advantage lookalike, which monitors the campaign and if it finds a better performance opportunity beyond the percentage you selected for your lookalike audience, Advantage Lookalike will dynamically update your campaign to reflect the better performance and may expand your audience further to include similar opportunities. 

According to world population review, there were 240 million US Facebook users, and the average user age is 40.5 years old. If your customers are younger, another platform might be a better choice. 


Instagram, though managed through Meta Ads Manager, is done differently than Facebook. Instagram is more restricted as you can only tell them an Instagram Account to use to create a lookalike audience. Instagram has a US user base of 110 million, with most users between 25-34 years old. 

As Instagram shares the same platform as Facebook, all the same downsides apply here too. 


Snapchat came out with lookalike audiences in 2016, allowing three distinct types of audiences to be built.  

  1. Similarity: Smaller Audience that has the closest resemblance to the seed audience 
  2. Balance: Mid-side audience that balances resemblance and reach 
  3. Reach: Larger audience that has the broadest resemblance to the seed audience 

According to Snapchat Ads reach 106,200,000 users in the U.S.A. with the majority of users being Gen Z. 


Twitter launched their follower look-alike targeting in 2014. Their follower look-alike targeting is built off finding people (Accounts) who already follow similar brands, competitors, and industry leaders from the twitter account you chose. Twitter will take the handle you want to lookalike and determine the accounts that are similar using their retweets, click on, tweet, and many other signals.  

Twitter has an estimated 80.9 million US active users and has the majority of users between the ages of 18 – 29.  


LinkedIn started their lookalike audience beta in late 2018. To create a lookalike audience your matched audience segment (seed audience) can be no smaller than 300 matched members. The lookalike audience will be built on member and company similarities but does not require that they share any particular characteristics.  

LinkedIn has 176 million US users with the majority between 25-34 years old.  


Tiktok rolled out its lookalike audiences in 2018 when the app became stateside. TikTok will analyze attributes of the users from the Custom Audience (seed audience) you selected, such as demographics, location, operating system, interests, etc. TikTok will then look for other users and groups who share similar attributes. To create an efficient lookalike model, it is recommended to have 10,000 people in your source audience (seed audience). 

TikTok has three options to choose from to decide on the lookalike size; Specific, Balanced, and Broad. The more specific an audience becomes the more similar your lookalike audience will be to your seed audience. 

TikTok has an estimated 80 million US Active users with majority between the age of 16-24.  

Google Ads

Google Ads will have this listed under similar audiences. Google Ads will take your remarketing list or customer match list with at least 1,000 cookies that have enough similarity in search behavior to create a similar audience. Website tag and rule-based remarketing lists, as well as Customer Match lists built from email addresses, mailing addresses, and/or phone numbers, can be used to generate similar audiences. 

LiftEngine Lookalike Audiences

LiftEngine will take your customer data and build a profile using machine learning across our LiftBase database, which includes 1,000+ data elements. That profile is then applied to LiftBase’s 275+ Million US Consumers to find only those who most closely meet that profile.

The chief advantage of LiftEngine is that advertisers can use LiftEngine’s Lookalike Audiences (Modeled Audiences) in multi-channel campaigns. The lookalike audience can be sent to your direct mail vendor, email provider, or onboarded to digital platforms like Facebook/Instagram, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Before receiving the final audience, data scientists review the results with your team for complete transparency.

While lookalike audiences are used for acquisition, similar methodologies can be used for both retention and reactivation.

About LiftEngine

Since 2005, LiftEngine's primary mission has been to help clients better understand and connect with their most responsive prospects and customers, online or offline. Our expertise is behind the marketing campaigns of 400+ clients.

Behind LiftEngine is LiftBase, our proprietary addressable consumer database. Comprised of 250 million US consumers, 140 million US households, and 1,000+ enhanced data elements, LiftBase powers our audience development services and industry-leading products, PortalLink and LaunchPad.

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Published on Jul. 26, 2022, Last Updated on Nov. 08, 2023