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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Facebook's Ad Metrics Changes: What SMBs Need to Know

image for PixieMe/Shutterstock
PixieMe/Shutterstock
  • Facebook has eliminated the single Ad Relevance Score and replaced it with more detailed metrics.
  • The social network giant adjusted its algorithm to give priority to content users engage the most with.
  • As a small business, valuable content is key to driving engagement.

Facebook has been hard at work updating many of its ad features over the last few months – namely, doing away with the single Ad Relevance Score, updating how the potential reach is calculated and adding three more actionable updates.

According to Facebook, "We're constantly evolving our ad platform, which means our metrics must evolve too. We think this [new] level of granularity will offer reporting that's more actionable for businesses." [Read related article: How to Use Facebook for Business]

Facebook has added three ad relevance diagnostic dimensions:

  • Quality ranking, which is how your ad's perceived quality compares with ads competing for the same audience. Facebook measures ad quality based on feedback that indicates users have hidden an ad or flagged it as clickbait.

  • Engagement rate ranking, which is how your ad's expected engagement rate compares with ads competing for the same audience – i.e., the likelihood of a user interacting with an ad either by clicking, reacting, commenting or sharing.

  • Conversion rate ranking, which is how your ad's expected conversion rate compares with ads that have the same optimization goal and compete for the same audience. This determines the likelihood of a user completing your optimization goal.

Facebook says that when used together, these diagnostics will help advertisers understand whether changes to creative assets, audience targeting or the post-click experience could improve performance. They will not factor into your ad's performance in the auction.

There were also changes to potential reach, which provides businesses with an idea of how many people will see the ad campaign. Potential reach was previously calculated based on the number of total monthly active Facebook users; now, though, it will only include users who were shown an ad on Facebook in the last 30 days. This estimate, according to Facebook, will more closely align with results advertisers will see in their campaign performance.

Facebook created a chart to help users discern the meaning of a variety of ad relevance diagnostics, and it provides helpful recommendations to help you meet your advertising goals.

These changes will allow advertisers to see exactly how their advertisements are performing against their competition, something that many feel has been a long time coming in the age of digital transparency.

These new metrics are scored based on how well your advertisements compare against those of your competitors shown to the same audience, instead of the old method of Facebook assigning your ad a score between one and 10 based on early impressions of positive and negative interactions (such as likes, video views or hiding an ad). Many advertisers complained the old metric was too vague to be of any value and didn't delve into why an ad was performing well or failing.

The new quality ranking is still primarily based on users' interactions with the ad, but each ad's performance is no longer isolated within its own performance. As a result, engagement has become more important than ever – if your ads get more engagement than your competitors' ads do, you get a better score.

"Focus on creating relationships instead of just selling," said Brandon Fargo, owner and CEO of Brahvia Consulting. "Content and video are king right now."

You want your advertisements to echo your business, grab attention and inspire customers to follow the call to action, whether it's to buy a product or sign up for a newsletter. Video is one of the highest-engaged-with forms of advertising on the platform – 70% of videos are watched all the way through – and can have enormous benefits for your business if executed correctly.

To create a video ad, you'll follow the same protocol for creating a static ad. Select "Get video views" under Campaign Objective, then define your audience, budget and ad schedule. Then follow Facebook's instructions for creating a video or upload your own file.

Because these changes are largely for advertisers' benefit, don't expect to see any noticeable changes with your Facebook ads. You should, however, expect to see more detailed information regarding your ads and how they are performing, which can help you refine your marketing strategy.

"[You] should only change the ads that need revision based on [Facebook's] insights," said Emma Franks, senior paid social account manager at Hanapin Marketing. "If there are ads with low engagement rates, those are the ones that should be updated first."

Franks added that ads with a low-quality ranking could improve if shown to a different audience, while ads with poor conversion rates could benefit from driving traffic to a new landing page. Take the time to understand the new metrics and what they mean for your advertisements, and have a plan in place if you see that changes need to be made.

Facebook also introduced two changes to its algorithm around the same time as the metric changes, the first being prioritizing friends the user is most likely to want to hear from based on past engagement, and the second being increasing visibility to links the user will find most valuable.

As a small business, you can benefit from these changes by making sure your content is relevant and valuable to your customers, despite Facebook's declining organic reach to Pages. As long as users are actively engaging with your content, you should stay relevant in their news feeds and continue to have your ads viewed.

Kiely Kuligowski

Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and is now embracing her hipster side as a new resident of Brooklyn. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.