How to Create a Facebook Ad with Custom Audiences

We recently released support for Facebook Custom Audiences, along with a walkthrough of How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience using these new reports. This walkthrough will show how to take the custom and lookalike audiences created in these previous posts and create Facebook ads targeting these new audiences. To get started, you will need to navigate to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on the Create an Ad button.

The first step in creating a Facebook advertisement is to determine what the ad’s marketing objective is. For most races and events, the primary objective of the campaign will be to drive registrations or Conversions, so for our example, we will show an ad setup with the goal of driving conversions.

Once you have selected the conversations objective, you will be asked if you want to create a split test, and you will be prompted to create a name for the campaign. Split tests are an advanced technique used to compare different advertisements and strategies to determine which are the most effective advertisements. In this example, we will be setting up a simple advertisement without using a split test, but stay tuned for a split-test walkthrough in the future!

The next step in your setup will be to create a name for a new Ad Set. An Ad Set allows you to define a target audience and spending rules. You can then create advertisements within that Ad Set, which will follow all of the targeting and spending rules defined by the Ad Set. This allows you to easily define the targeting and spending, but to create different ad copy for separate advertisements.

Next, you will have to define what a conversion is for this advertisement. You can either use the standard Purchase event, which RunSignUp will trigger when a registration is completed, or you can create a Custom Conversion.

Our next step will be to determine the target audience for our advertisement. The first section of this form prompts the users to select a custom or lookalike as the baseline targeting.

If you are using a custom audience, all the targeting you need to do is to select that audience from the dropdown! Facebook will create a target audience that only references the Facebook users on the list that you specifically uploaded. You can add additional targeting information such as zip code radius, age, and gender, but this will narrow your target list. Since the custom lists generated through RunSignUp will have participated in your event in some way, typically you won’t want to further refine this target audience.

However, if you are creating an advertisement from a lookalike audience rather than a custom audience, additional refinement is a vital step. Unlike a custom audience that is targeting a specific list, a lookalike audience takes the participants on your custom list and attempts to find Facebook users that are close matches and are therefore good targets for your campaign. The caveat, however, is when creating a lookalike audience you can only setup geographic targets by continent or country. This means by default your lookalike audience will target the entire United States.

Obviously, targeting the entire country for a race is rarely the way to achieve the highest return on investment. To address this problem, click on the “Edit Locations” button and enter the name of any locations you wish to target. Facebook will then update a map displaying the different areas targeted by the advertisement. This will then take the nationwide lookalike audience and refine its targeting to only include lookalike participants within the geographical targeting.

The next steps allow you to refine additional targeting, including or excluding participants based on specific interests or connections. Since we are using either custom audiences or lookalike audiences, we do not necessarily need to add additional targeting based on interests, but the options are available.

While you are building your advertisement, Facebook will give you a running total of the approximate size of your audience, an estimated daily reach, and conversions based on your spending. Keep an eye on these metrics as you refine your targeting to make sure you don’t accidentally make your advertisement too inclusive or exclusive.

When you are satisfied with your audience, click on the Save This Audience button at the bottom of the Audience setup. Facebook will then generate a popup with a summary of the information in this target audience, as well as prompt you for a name of the audience. Be sure to name the audience with a descriptive name so it is easy to understand and re-use for any additional advertisements.

After defining your audience, you will be prompted on how you would like Facebook to determine where the ads should be placed. It is recommended that you use the default setting of Automatic Placements, which allows Facebook to determine the best locations to place your advertisements. You can select the option not to place your advertisements in certain locations, but this is only recommended if you have very specific reasons for refining your ad’s placement.

The final step in creating your Ad Set is to determine your Budget & Schedules. Budgets can be set on a daily amount or a lifetime spending. If you select a daily budget, you’ll be given the option to run the advertisement continually or select a specific date range. If you select a lifetime budget, you will have to define the dates you wish the advertisement to run. These scheduling capabilities allow races to create and run advertisements closely linked to specific events, such as holiday discounts or price increase promotions.

The remaining advanced options can further refine your schedule and conversion windows, but can easily be left on the Facebook defaults unless you have a specific reason to refine these parameters.

Once you’ve defined your Ad Set’s target audience and budget, you can create the specific copy of the advertisement you are running. If you have access to a Facebook Page associated with your advertising target, you can link your business’s page to the targeted ad.

Next, you will determine the format and the advertisement. Facebook provides a number of different advertisement options ranging from a single image ad to a slideshow or video advertisement.

Facebook will then prompt you to enter the content of the advertisement based on the type of ad being placed. You can either upload images or select a free stock image provided by Facebook.

The final step to place your advertisement will be to set the destination URL of where to send users who click on the link, the headline of the ad, the text of the ad, and a call to action as shown below:

Facebook will automatically generate the advertisement preview shown on the right. You can select different types of ad previews by using the drop-down menu under the Ad Preview setup, to see how the advertisement will appear in different mediums – both a mobile view and a desktop view.

Once you are satisfied with your ad’s content, click the green Confirm button at the bottom right-hand side of the page. Facebook will review your advertisements to make sure it meets its guidelines, and will begin serving your ads to your target audiences!




RunSignUp Leads the Way in Race Marketing with Facebook Custom Audience Support

Press Release

Moorestown, NJ – RunSignUp has released several reports that simplify the process of creating Custom Audiences in Facebook and providing races with access to a key social media marketing tool. Facebook Custom Audiences allow advertisers to target advertisements to specific lists of known customers (or lookalike profiles) instead of building the audience based on broad demographics. The curated lists lead to better conversion rates and an increased return on investment (ROI) for an event’s marketing dollars.

RunSignUp Founder Bob Bickel explained, “We have always believed that providing race directors with tools to market their events is more valuable to them than the antiquated practice of spamming runners with upcoming events they aren’t interested in. To empower those race directors, we’ve focused on innovations like integrated (or even automated) emails, referral rewards programs, Facebook sharing capabilities, fundraiser rewards, and integrations with 12 remarketing companies, including Google Adwords.  This is our next innovation: making curated advertising easier, more efficient, and available to all events – regardless of the size of their marketing team.” The new reports include three options for targeting specific groups of potential participants:

  • All Participants: A report of all participants currently or previously registered for the race; useful for creating a Lookalike audience for Facebook to find likely new registrants. The report also includes the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a participant to allow Facebook to prioritize their targeting based on those with the most value to your race.
  • Current Participants: A report to create a custom audience of participants currently registered; this is useful for targeting current participants to up-sell them on new add-ons or promotions, or encourage them to recruit their friends and participate in a referral rewards program.
  • Non-Registered Previous Participants: A list of participants who previously participated, but have not yet registered; this report allows for targeting of likely participants without including anyone who has already committed.

The reports can be used by races of all sizes and marketing budgets – for large events with that have already been using Custom Audiences it’s a time-saver; for smaller races that are less social media savvy, it offers access to modern advertising tools. RunSignUp customer Erik Young of Sour Fish Events commented, “This is a HUGE addition. While we use Facebook Custom Audiences on an almost daily basis, it’s time-consuming and tedious. This addition not only makes this rich feature easier for those not familiar with Custom Audiences, it makes it less burdensome for advanced users.”

Facebook Custom Audience support is paving the way for RunSignUp to provide increasing marketing automation and help customers to grow their events amid a challenging and saturated Endurance Event market.

More information on Facebook Custom Audience Support:

How-To Create and use Custom Audience Reports:


About RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for race registration, race day solutions, and running clubs. Services include RunSignUp for registration, fundraising, and race promotion, RunSignUp Go for RaceDay, RD Go for Timers, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RaceJoy for mobile experiences. More than 10,000 race directors, timers, running club officers and running stores use these services today, including leading organizations like the Boilermaker Road Race, Crim Festival of Races, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., Fifth Third River Bank Run, Philadelphia Marathon, Komen Race for the Cure Philadelphia, Mercedes Marathon, Kentucky Derby Festival, Leone Timing, KC Running Company, Compuscore Timing, Knoxville Track Club, Pikes Peak Road Runners, Gulf Coast Runners, Columbus Running Company, Playmakers Running Store and many more. In 2016, over 14,000 races used the system to register more than 4.2 million participants. Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions such as race registration or club membership renewal. RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community. For more information, visit



RunSignUp and Facebook Custom Audiences

RunSignUp has just released several reports that make the process of creating a Facebook Custom Audience from your participant lists a snap.

We all agree: Facebook Custom Audiences are one of – if not the most – essential tools for successful Facebook advertising campaigns.

From: Adespresso

In total, three reports have been made available for easy download: All Participants, Current Participants, and Non-Registered Previous Participants. These reports contain all the information RunSignUp has available that Facebook can use to create a Custom Audience, and have been pre-formatted for easy importing into Facebook.

Facebook Custom Audiences is a tool created by Facebook to allow advertisers to create lists of specific customers and target their advertisements to those customers. This can be a very powerful tool: instead of having to select your audience by their demographics, you can target specific customers. The tool allows events to execute targeted marketing campaigns using existing participant information, leading to an increased return on investment (ROI) as compared to simple demographic targeting. Facebook also offers the capability to create a Lookalike audience to reach new participants by targeting a set of Facebook users who share common traits with an existing custom audience.


The All Participants report contains any participant who is currently registered for the event or has registered for the event in the past. This report is especially useful for creating a Lookalike audience, as it gives Facebook data on all of your event’s participants. The report also includes the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a participant, which is computed by totaling the total amount of event fees the participant has paid to the race across all of their registrations. This LTV allows Facebook to prioritize targeting based on the customers with the most value to your race.

The Current Participant report will create a custom audience of all participants who are registered for any of your current events within RunSignUp. This list can be used to target current participants with the intention of up-selling them on new add-ons, VIP entries, and promotions. This custom audience can also be used to encourage current participants to invite their friends or participate in your event’s referral program.

The final report Non-Registered Previous Participants creates a list of participants who have participated previously but have not yet registered for this year’s race. This is a great segment of customers to target with price increase messages and discount offers since they already have a known interest in your race. By stripping out participants who have already registered, you are ensuring that your advertising dollars are not spent on runners who are already participating.

For an in-depth walkthrough of how to setup a Facebook Custom Audience using these new tools, check out the How-To Blog Post.

Stay tuned for the next installment of RunSignUp & Facebook Custom Audiences: how to create a Facebook Custom Audience based on the traffic to your RunSignUp Race website!

2017 RunSignUp Symposium Presentation Videos

We’ve been busy editing and collating the videos from this year’s RunSignUp Symposium…and while the collection is not yet complete, we wanted to share the ones that are ready!

You can find links for all completed presentation videos here:

Links for individual presentations are below.

Customer/Industry Presentations

Supercharging your Sponsor Program, with Peter Abraham

Driving Registrations with Referrals and Social Media Marketing, with Erik Young

Using your Database to Enhance the Experience for Runners and Race Directors, with Healthy Kids Running Series

Motivating and Engaging Fundraisers, with Kathy Wise

Delivering a Race that is Flexible and Enjoyable for Runners, with Cherie Santiago

Course Creation, with Ted Metellus

Equipment Management & Logistics, with Ryan Griessmeyer

Working with Races as a Third Party, with Crisp McDonald

RunSignUp Tutorials & Presentations

RunSignUp Intro and Overview, with Bob Bickel

Quick Hits for Advanced Users, with Bryan Jenkins

RunSignUp 101, with Lauren Bergren & Herman Kinard

Participant Management Tools with Jordan Desilets & Joe McMackin

Fundraising Tools with Eric Cone & Natalie Young

RaceDay Apps with Megan Cary & Matt Avery

RaceJoy with Shelly Harris & James Harris

RaceDay Photos with Ryan Snell & Matt Sinclair

Stay tuned for more videos!

Runners Blasted Off with RaceJoy at the Space Coast Marathon!

49,000 Progress Alerts   –   93% Usage   –   6,500 Cheers   –   1,200 Phones Tracked


At the 45th anniversary of the Space Coast Marathon & Half Marathon participants and their supporting friends and family were treated to an out-of-this-world experience with RaceJoy’s interactive race day features. Courtesy of Thales Group, those who downloaded the mobile app had access to RaceJoy’s features for free. With a 93% usage rate (includes spectators and is based upon finishers), 49,000 progress alerts, 6,500 cheers and close to 1,200 phones tracked participants and their friends and family made the most out of RaceJoy on race day!


The Space Coast Marathon organizers, Running Zone, were among the first to embrace RaceJoy and have been offering the experience at this race to its participants since 2013! Key features participants and supporting friends and family were treated to included:

  • Real-time, live phone tracking – tracking of up to 50 participants on a live map view of the official course.
  • Progress alerts – alerts sent to participants and spectators as they completed the course with information like pace and estimated finish time.
  • Send-a-Cheer – fun pre-recorded or personalized Text-to-Cheer messages sent in audio format.
  • Immediate, official race results – within moments of crossing the finish line, scored results were available in RaceJoy that included individual, age group and overall stats.
  • And so much more!
49,000 Progress Alerts Sent on Race Day!

Another unique feature of RaceJoy allows participants to post their progress on social media (Facebook and Twitter). Participants can select to post all their stat information for each milestone, just the start and finish, or the alerts without time. Close to 1,000 progress alerts were posted to social media on race day!


The Space Coast Marathon Weekend offers 26.2- and 13.1-mile options. The event attracts many repeat runners and the half marathon distance sells out every year. Race organizers do a lot to make sure their runners have a high quality experience, where every aspect of the race is thought through and provided for. From amenities like great food for everyone (not just the participants, which makes for a nice family experience) to the great race swag (like the Space Coast Marathon towels) to the advanced race day technology with RaceJoy.

If you’ve yet to participate in this event, the Space Coast Marathon is a bucket list race you should definitely add to your list!


RaceJoy creators, James and Shelly Harris, landed at the Space Coast Marathon Weekend on Saturday for the expo and made their appearance at the RaceJoy booth on race day.


We always love coming out to the race sites to meet RaceJoy fans and to cheer on the participants! And we’re not the only ones – almost 6,500 cheers were sent in RaceJoy by supporting family and friends to motivate runners!

While at the race site, we also enjoy hearing stories about what brought them to run and the challenges they have overcome. Many of the people we saw were some of the first to ever use RaceJoy.


Congratulations finishers of the Space Coast Marathon weekend! A special thank you to Thales Group and Running Zone for including RaceJoy at this year’s event.


If you’d like to add RaceJoy as part of the race experience for your participants and spectators, you can enable in a few simple steps and at an affordable price by visiting RaceJoy’s Website or your RunSignUp race dashboard.






Queen Bee Half Marathon Participants Buzzed with Race Joy!


The Queen Bee Half Marathon on Saturday, October 8th buzzed through Cincinnati as more than 3,000 finishers took to the streets. Race organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon are also the hosts of this weekend’s women’s half marathon and offered RaceJoy’s interactive race day experience to their participants and spectators for free for the second time this year.


Organizers offered RaceJoy at the Queen Bee Half in 2015, its inaugural running, and the response continues to be very positive. Nearly 1,500 participants and spectators used RaceJoy this year for its live phone tracking, GPS-based progress alerts and Send-a-Cheer features.

Each participant of the half marathon and 4-miler events were able to access RaceJoy to be live tracked by their supporting family and friends as they moved along the course. Participants carry their phones and spectators can see where they are in real-time on the race’s official course map.


Participants are also able to receive progress updates that are based on the GPS location of their phone and include information like pace and estimated finish time. Queen Bee Half Marathon alerts were issued at every mile. More than 15,000 alerts were sent to participants and their supporting family and friends!


Participants can also choose to post these progress updates to their personal Facebook and Twitter walls in real-time. More than 250 alerts were posted to social media during the event!


The Send-a-Cheer feature is a RaceJoy favorite, allowing spectators to send fun, motivational audio cheers to their tracked participants. Almost 3,000 cheers were sent including great usage of our Halloween cheers for October! What an un-bee-lievable show of support!


Check out these popular Halloween cheers!

The cheer feature also allows users to send custom Text-to-Cheer messages allowing personalized messages to be sent in audio format.

The Queen Bee Half Marathon is on a mission to promote the fun of fitness while raising support and funds for local charities that focus on women. The race weekend included plenty of pampering, swag and fun – all the perfect ingredients for a great girls’ weekend.


The event offers a half marathon and 4-mile course that starts and ends at JACK Casino, buzzes through some of Cincinnati’s historic and scenic neighborhoods, and is lined with entertainment from bands and DJs.

Thank you race organizers for embracing RaceJoy and providing this one-of-a-kind race day experience for your participants and spectators!


Interested in RaceJoy for Your Race?

RaceJoy has moved to a free-only model for participants and spectators. If you’d like to offer RaceJoy at your upcoming race, affordable pricing options are available for any race or sponsor to offer the interactive experience. Innovative tools for race organizers are also included, such as race day monitoring, race operations team tracking and news alert system. Watch this overview to learn more.

More information about offering RaceJoy is available here.


Immigration Reform Pilgrimage Uses RaceJoy’s Live Tracking


The el Camino del Inmigrante began its inaugural 150 mile pilgrimage this past Saturday with dozens of people making the trek from the Mexico/United States border to Los Angeles. Participants are showing their support for immigration reform and to pay tribute to those who have died while attempting to immigrate to the United States. Event organizers are providing RaceJoy as part of the experience so that people can live track the walkers and connect with them using RaceJoy’s Send-a-Cheer feature; especially the Text-to-Cheer option for sending personal and customized messages as participants trek through California raising awareness on immigration issues.

Here is a video clip from the local TV station covering the event and RaceJoy:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 1.34.53 PMMost of us have a history that began with family members seeking a better life here in America, and regardless of your political stance, we can all agree our current immigration system needs an overhaul. It is events like this that help to educate people, build awareness and give voice to change. Many taking part in the pilgrimage have experienced first hand the challenges and loss of life associated with attempted immigration to the United States.

Crosses representing 11,000 people who have died crossing the U.S./Mexico border.

We were very honored when organizers of the walk sought out to use RaceJoy for its live tracking and have been tracking over 50 walkers each day as shown below. Participants are covering an average 13 miles each day for 11 days and end the pilgrimage in Los Angeles on  August 30th.


Here is a live clip from the beginning of the third day:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 1.42.11 PM.png

RaceJoy is issuing progress alerts as walkers cross each mile point on the course to help keep them posted on their progress.

Progress Alert for el Camino del Inmigrante
Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 1.44.33 PM
Alerts Can Be Posted to Personal Facebook and Twitter Walls

We are sure there are many friendships being formed as well as time for some deep introspection. It is experiences like this that help to bring not only global change, but personal insights, healing and bonding with others. We encourage you to access el Camino in RaceJoy under the California races and send the walkers some encouraging cheers!

Special thanks to the Christian Community Development Association for including RaceJoy as part of such a transformative experience.

More information about the pilgrimage can be found here.