Facebook’s native tools make it easy for advertisers to create ad campaigns. Once the campaign launches, the real work begins. To ensure you’re spending wisely, optimizing your campaign, and getting the returns you want, you need to measure performance by tracking the Facebook ad metrics that matter.
Is there a right way to measure Facebook ad performance?
Campaign objective and ad type will determine which metrics you should use. While there’s no single metric that can guide all decision making related to creative, spending, and audience targeting strategies, it’s important to choose a set of complementary metrics that align with the specific goals of your campaign.
In Facebook Ad Manager, you’ll find hundreds of campaign metrics to choose from. But focusing on the wrong KPIs—those that don’t align with your objectives or provide insights you can use to improve your campaign—could derail your entire effort.
Reach refers to the number of people who see an ad at least once. (This differs from impressions, which can involve multiple views by the same people.) If you focus on reach, you’ll probably need to make a huge investment to see a return; response rates in Facebook are generally low, and a single view rarely converts.
Vanity metrics such as likes and shares can be useful for brand awareness campaigns. For all Facebook advertisers, they can seem (at least on the surface) like positive gains. But if your campaign is designed to drive user action, vanity metrics alone won’t tell you whether you’re getting your money’s worth.
The number of clicks an ad receives can be misleading. Most users will click to expand ad text rather than clicking through to a website landing page. Facebook lumps both types of clicks together, obscuring the true impact of the ad.
The total number of video views isn’t the best indicator of user interest, as a view can be as short as 3 seconds. Videos that autoplay in news feeds (and go ignored) are included in the tally as well.
This is the score Facebook assigns to determine the average cost and likelihood of ad placement. Many advertisers watch these scores closely and base decisions on them, but lower-scoring ads have been known to outperform ads with higher scores. Relevance scores also don’t provide any insights advertisers can use to improve their ads or fine-tune their campaigns.
An earlier point bears repeating: no single campaign metric should determine how you proceed. Viewing each metric in combination with others will provide a much-needed context. For best results, track your ads from a variety of angles: delivery, engagement, average costs, and business value.
Knowing how much you’ve spent over the course of a campaign helps to ensure you’re staying within your budget. You might find you’ll need to adjust your investment in a particular ad or shift your spending priority to higher-performing ads (something Facebook can do for you, which we’ll explain in more detail below).
Frequency refers to the number of times each person sees your ad (impressions divided by reach). When a user sees the same ad multiple times, the ad tends to break through and become memorable. Branding campaigns benefit especially from higher numbers of views.
But use caution: too many repeat views can lead to creative fatigue. According to AdEspresso, a frequency of 9 drives CPC up by up to 160%. At that point, users no longer respond and the ad’s value plummets.
Once you hit a frequency of 3, it’s time to consider a creative refresh. From there, as higher frequencies inflate costs, your ad may no longer be profitable. Outside the news feed (in the right sidebar, for example), you can aim for a higher frequency.
Cost per click (CPC) and click-through rate (CTR), or the percentage of times users see an ad and click through to an opt-in page, are closely related. The higher the CTR, the lower the CPC, as Facebook rewards advertisers for running ads that are more relevant to their audiences.
As you can see, apparel, retail, and travel industries enjoy higher CTR and lower CPC overall. No surprise there: these types of ads tend to have more appeal for Facebook users.
The average CTR across all industries is 0.9%. Some industries are bound to have a lower CTR than others, but this average also reflects the failure of many advertisers to optimize their campaigns.
You should start looking closely at CTR after an ad reaches 10,000 impressions. If CTR is below 1%, your ad creative and/or audience targeting may be off. Ads in the 2% range are worth keeping, but be sure to swap out and test minor creative elements to try to improve the rate. If CTR is 3% or higher, you’ve hit the jackpot.
CPM is good to use if you’ve advertised on Facebook in the past because it provides context for current campaigns. Is your CPM in line with what you’re accustomed to seeing? Bear in mind that CPM can fluctuate daily, and higher-demand audiences will cost more.
If your ad budget is limited, CPM can help you determine the most cost-effective way to maximize reach. If CPM is uncomfortably high, try testing your ad on different audiences.
This metric doesn’t include passive newsfeed views and accidental clicks. Only viewers with a genuine interest in your message will go this far. It helps to compare this number with total video views so you’ll know the percentage of people who encountered the video and intentionally engaged with it.
Cost per action (CPA) is the average cost of a user taking the next step in response to an ad—following a Facebook page, downloading content, watching a video, clicking through to complete a purchase or install an app, etc.
CPA is all over the map by industry, but a higher CPA can be justified for companies whose customers spend more on higher-priced goods and services. If CPA is higher than the business value of the action taken, you’ll need to reexamine your creative, audience targeting, and/or marketing strategy.
Companies invest in Facebook ads to grow their business. The key question for any ad campaign and the true measure of its success is how well it’s advancing a customer acquisition strategy by generating leads or revenues.
Return on investment (ROI) and return on advertising spend (ROAS) are similar, but both are worth tracking. ROI measures profits generated by an ad versus its cost; ROAS measures gross revenue resulting from every advertising dollar spent. You can calculate ROI and ROAS by setting up conversion tracking, which will import the numbers you’ll need to complete your analysis.
Before you kick off your campaign, Facebook will provide estimated campaign results based on the nature of your ad, your budget, your bid, and the audiences you’re targeting. This will help you determine how much you’ll need to spend to get the results you want.
Facebook also offers campaign budget optimization (CBO), which uses machine learning to reallocate advertisers’ budgets in real-time. By moving more dollars into higher-performing ads, CBO increases campaign efficiency and simplifies account management. CBO is a powerful tool you can use to ensure you’re maximizing your advertising spend at all times.
Knowing the right metrics and how to interpret them is crucial. So is the ability to adapt quickly and scale your efforts easily. Facebook can shift spending for you, but it’s up to you to optimize your creative and adjust your targeting strategies as needed.
Fortunately, Facebook advertisers can now manage and scale ad campaigns with expert precision—regardless of budget size—with the help of self-service tools, advanced reporting tools, and tiered managed services.
Curious about how you can achieve industry-leading results on a startup budget? Contact us today, and we’ll help you get started.