Quick Guide to Analyzing Facebook Ads Performance

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in Reporting, Social
Quick Guide to Analyzing Facebook Ads Performance

My first foray into Facebook ads was back in 2008. Even then, Facebook offered an extremely easy way to start advertising to your perfect audience. But while it was easy to create ads, measuring and optimizing their performance was much more difficult and I was always left wanting more data, like what was available in AdWords.

But recent changes to Facebook’s reporting have made it much easier to access the different levels of data you need to make informed decisions. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of Facebook Ads dashboards and reporting to help you get familiar with the analysis that guides your optimization efforts.

Facebook ads sidebar Facebook Ads are laid out fairly simply and the three key areas we’ll cover are campaigns, ads and the new reports.

Facebook Campaign Performance

Facebook Ads Campaigns

The campaign view is very simple and should provide a birds-eye view of your account performance split up by campaign. Here are the metrics presented:

  • Results – The number of actions as a result of your ad. The results you see here are based on your objective (applicable to recently created ads only).
  • Cost Per – The average you paid for each action according to your objective.
  • Reach – The number of people who saw your ads.
  • Start Date – The date a campaign is eligible to start running.
  • End Date – The date a campaign is scheduled to stop.
  • Budget – The maximum you’re willing to spend on each campaign, per day or in the lifetime of the campaign.
  • Remaining – The amount still left in this campaign’s daily or lifetime budget.
  • Total Spent – The total you’ve spent on this campaign during the dates selected.

Your campaigns house your ads and are where you set your budget. Your optimization goal is to allocate money towards your best performing campaigns, according to your objectives.

Facebook Ads Performance

Facebook Ads Campaign View of Ads

Clicking into a campaign will present the performance of each ad in your campaign. Here are the metrics you’ll see:

  • Results – The number of actions as a result of your ad. The results you see here are based on your objective (applicable to recently created ads only).
  • Cost Per – The average you paid for each action according to your objective.
  • Ad Reach – The number of people who saw this ad.
  • Frequency – The average number of times each person saw your ad.
  • Clicks – The total number of clicks this ad received. This can also include Page likes, event joins and app installs that came from your ad.
  • CTR – The percentage of time your ad was clicked when it was shown.
  • Avg. Price – The average price you paid for each action, each click or each time the ad was shown 1,000 times.
  • Total Spent – The total you’ve spent on this campaign during the dates selected.

Your ad must capture the attention of your audience and compel them to click. Since your ad is competing with clever Buzzfeed articles and pictures of friends on vacation, it really has its work cut out for it. Test new ads frequently and compare their performance to find the winners. Your optimization goal is to pause weak ads and fund those that perform best.

Optimization Examples

When analyzing your ads, you’ll want to compare each ad’s metrics to others in the campaign. Here’s a few examples of what you could find:

  • Low CTR – This means people aren’t clicking on your ads when they appear. This could be because your ad isn’t capturing their attention, or it may be irrelevant to the people you’re targeting. Try creating new ads that are more compelling, or modify your targeting settings to reach an audience that’s more receptive to your offer.
  • Low Impressions – This means your ads aren’t running very often. It could also be because your bids are too low or your target audience is too small. Try raising your bids in order to top competing advertisers, or try relaxing your targeting to increase its size.
  • High Average Price – This means your cost is too high for the amount of actions you’re earning. This could be because your bids are too high and/or your actions are too infrequent. Try reducing your bids to lower your overall cost, or create new ads that are more up-front about your offer in order to limit clicks from people that won’t take action, thus increasing your actions and lowering your cost. This post will help you qualify customers with your ads.
  • High Frequency – This means your ad is being shown to the same person many times. This could be because your bids are too high or your target audience is too small. Try reducing your bids to show up less frequently, or try relaxing your targeting to increase its size so your ads reach a wider group of people.

Keep in mind that targeting is set on the ad level, so the ad’s targeting must be considered when looking at its performance.


Facebook Ads Line Graph

While the tables present aggregate performance data for a given time period, they fail to show you how metrics fluctuate over time. Because of this, it’s helpful to review the line graphs to see how and when a metric has changed. Look for peaks, valleys and trends to measure the impact of changes you’ve made, along with any affects of seasonality or changes in the competitive landscape.

Facebook Reporting

Facebook Ads Reports Home

Facebook’s new reporting interface provides access to previously unavailable metrics and offers many new ways to slice and dice your data. Follow these steps to access and create custom reports:

  1. From the Reports page, click Edit Columns in order to customize the data.
    Facebook ads edit columns buton
  2. Select a Column Set to get started with a report template.
    • General – This report provides a general overview of your performance details.
    • Page – This report focuses on the impact your ads have had on your Page.
    • Offsite – This report focuses on ad clicks.
    • App – This report focuses on the impact your ads have had on your apps.
    • Conversion – This report focuses on the impact your ads have had on conversions.
    • Demographic – This report breaks down ad performance by age and gender.
    • Geographic – This report breaks down ad performance by country.
    • Placement – This report breaks down ad performance by placement and device.
  3. Customize your reports by selecting Dimensions (rows) and Metrics (columns).
    • Data Aggregation – Choose which levels of your account should be segmented (e.g., by Campaign).
      Facebook Ads Report Data Aggregation
    • Data Breakdown – Choose how the report should be further broken down (e.g., by Country).
      Facebook Ads Report Data Breakdown
    • Metrics – Choose which performance metrics you’d like displayed as columns (e.g., Cost Per Page Like).
      Facebook Ads Report Metrics


Make an effort to examine the metrics available for each of your ad types and compare the performance of the different ad copy, images and targeting to draw conclusions from the data. Also try breaking down your data in new ways for additional levels of detail. Lastly, explore the different metric columns and read their tooltips to get familiar with what they reveal and your Facebook ad optimization efforts will be a breeze!

Sam Mazaheri

Sam is the Director of Online Marketing at InVision and former Director of Marketing at AdStage. Prior to AdStage, he was part of the AdWords product team at Google, serving as the in-house AdWords expert and advisor to product management, engineering, and UX. Prior to that, he personally managed and grew in-house digital marketing programs with over $300,000 in monthly ad spend.

View Sam Mazaheri's profile on LinkedIn

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  • mollycoughlin

    Hi there, curious if you’re aware of any CTR performance metrics for FB ads? In particular, I’m curious about website click ads. Should they perform higher or lower than page like ads? Or the same?

    • Sam Mazaheri

      Hi Molly, I’m not sure about overall performance, but these two ad types have very different objectives so you should use the ad that makes sense for your goals (either page likes, or traffic to your site).
      If you do have a FB page, be sure to link it to your ads so they can become eligible to show in the news feed which has a much higher CTR than ads on the right-hand side.

      • mollycoughlin

        Thanks, and yes, we’re linked to the page/displaying in newsfeed. My question was what way the ads should be different… Are web click ads stronger or weaker? My assumption is weaker.

        • Sam Mazaheri

          I think it really depends on your targeting and copy. If your page has strong relevance and affinity and if your copy and image resonates with the audience you’re targeting.
          You may want to try to create closely-matching page and link ads and see how performance varies when everything else is as similar as possible. If you do, please check back here to update us!

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  • Sethu Raman

    I would like to know if there are any specific tools to create and analyse reports of these ads..
    There are tools like Social Baker, Sprou Social and Cyfe.. But none of them are providing reports based on ads.
    Thanks in advance

  • Hi Sam, Thank you for the sharing. Learned a lot on analysing the results from Facebook ads campaign.

    Just want to ask for the Frequency shown by the people.

    You mentioned that if is too high meaning the ads shown to the same person many times.
    At the same time, I heard that showing the ads for few times for the same target audience could be a strategy to consistently remind people about your brand/ services and then turn them into leads eventually.

    What’s your thought on this and what would be your benchmark on the frequency reach?

    Thanks again for the great sharing.

    Alexander Ang

    • Michael McEuen

      Hi Alexander, thanks for writing in!

      There’s no single rule of thumb when it comes to frequency. We’ve seen higher frequencies (10x plus) convert very well, and also poorly.

      It’s best to optimize frequency based on the avg. cost per desired action (such as a form fill). That said, often it’s best to show an audience different sets of ad creative based on where they might be in the purchase decision. We show examples in this post:

      Hope this helps!


      • Thank you so much for your thoughts on this Michael. Appreciate that.

        Often a lot of people doesn’t really know how to connect all these metrics together (Frequency, CTR, CPA, Reach, Relevance score) and then to make a sound judgement to know if your FB Ads is performing well.

        Thanks again for your generous sharing!

        Alexander Ang

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