The main difference between Partner Categories and Interest Targeting is that with Facebook Partner Categories, third party offline-data allows advertisers to target Users who are taking actions off of Facebook, such as visiting websites, adding items to a shopping cart, and retail purchase history. Interests are more encompassing as it tends to include the Facebook activity of the person you're wanting to target, such as liking a page, playing a Facebook game, and engaging in Facebook apps.
Partner Categories & Behaviors
Facebook has partnered with third-party data mining agencies Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon to better reach your target audience. These categories can be used to reach and target users based on data about their occupation, household size, purchasing behavior, and hobbies. Partner Categories are available as a Targeting option to advertisers in the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
On Facebook, Behaviors are defined as "Activities that people do on and off of Facebook that help inform their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents, travel preferences and more. Behaviors are constructed from both someone's activity on Facebook and through offline activity provided by data from Facebook's trusted third-party partners Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon."
Both options are very effective ways to target your audience based on 3rd party data.
Facebook defines Interests as "Things people share on their Timelines, apps they use, pages they like and other activities on and off of Facebook. Interests may also factor in demographics such as age, gender and location." Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Interests are generally generated from Facebook's internal 1st party data on their users.
- Interests will let you target an audience with specific interests. For example, if you are selling eco-friendly products you may want to target broad interests such as "environmentally conscious" or specific interests such as "biodegradable plates," "compost bins," and "reusable grocery bags."
- Interest targeting is recommended if you're trying to reach Facebook users with very specific interests and activities.