This is the right way to use Facebook ad reports

Note: I’ve received several feedback that this is a fairly advanced tutorial. You’ll likely find it useful only if you manage more than 30 ads, as a gauge.

Do you use Facebook ad reports?

I do. I used to hate doing it because using ad reports can be very time-consuming and confusing.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way we could all learn to use Facebook ad reports the right way instead of fiddling with the columns and getting lost in the sea of numbers?

So one day, I thought to myself, “what if there was…

A way that will save you 50% of the time you currently spend optimising Facebook ads?

A way that will let you see exactly which ads aren’t working?

A way that will keep you focused on the campaigns, ad sets, and metrics that matter?”

Fast forward 3 months, I can safely say that I have found a way to do ALL of that.

And that is what I’m about to share with you in this post.

Watch the video at the end of this post to see exactly how I do it.

The right way to use Facebook ad reports

Marketers are using Facebook ad reports the wrong way

Let’s look at how some marketers are using Facebook ad reports.

Imagine you’re running an average Facebook ad campaign with 5 ad sets. In each ad set, you have another 3 ads.

To analyse the results of these ads, you’ll go to Facebook ad reports.

Then you’ll customise the columns you want to see.

Since you’re running a lead generation campaign, you may select these columns:

  1. Reach
  2. Frequency
  3. CPM
  4. Registration*
  5. Cost per registration*
You may choose the “lead” conversion pixel instead, depending on the type of conversion pixel you installed. Since my client used the “registration” conversion pixel, I’ll be using it as an example.

Next, you’ll probably choose to view your results at either the ad set or ad level.

Finally, you’ll probably sort your ad results by cost per registration.

Then you’ll turn off the most expensive ad sets or ads until you reach the point where the leads become profitable. Sounds good so far.

So what’s wrong with this approach?

The problem is three-fold.

1. Missed opportunities from turning off entire ad sets

Earlier, I mentioned how some Facebook marketers may analyse their results at the ad set level.

Imagine sorting your ad sets by cost per registration and turning off the unprofitable ones.

You risk turning off individual ads that are profitable!

Just look at the example below.

For leads to be profitable in this example, the cost per lead should not exceed $2.

So applying the practice above for the ad set below which has generated 57 leads at $2.37 each, I would turn it off.

But when I look into the performance of each ad in the ad set, I discovered something!

1 ad converted 39 leads at $1.94, below the $2 benchmark.

Had I turned off the ad set without looking into the performance of each ad in the ad set, then I’d have lost the profitable leads that would have come through otherwise.

So the obvious solution seems to be to analyse your results at the ad level, but that brings about another two problems.

2. Wasting a lot of time on managing Facebook ads

Perhaps you are one of those who’ve been analysing your campaign results at the ad level. And you have no problem with it at all.

However, as you have more ad sets in the same campaign, and more ads in each ad set, it quickly becomes overwhelming.

Imagine sorting 10 ad sets with 5 ads in each ad set in your ad report. You’ll see 50 rows of data!

And the list goes on and on as your ad campaign grows bigger. Watch the video I’ve prepared for you below and you’ll get what I mean.

As a rough gauge, an advertiser who spends $10,000 a month on Facebook ads can have 30 to 50 ad sets, with 5 ads in each ad set. That makes 150 to 250 ads in total and can be extremely time-consuming to analyse one by one.

3. Even more missed opportunities from turning off ads prematurely

Have you ever thought about what time period you should use when analysing the results of an ad?

Maybe it’s 3 days, 5 days, or the last month.

Depending on the time period, the average cost per registration for each ad will change too!

Analysing your ad results at the ad level alone will not show you how your ads are performing on a daily basis. More importantly, you won’t know if the ads are becoming more costly or cost-effective by the day.

You’ll miss trends until you start seeing the ad results by the day.

Let’s look at the example below.

Over a 5-day period, there were:

  1. 3 registrations on day 1
  2. 5 registrations on day 2
  3. 7 registrations on day 3
  4. 10 registrations on day 4
  5. 10 registrations on day 5

In total, there were 35 registrations in 5 days, with $75 spent.

The average cost per registration is thus $2.14 and exceeds the $2 per lead benchmark.

However, if you break down the results on a daily basis, you may see the graph above - cost per registration is on a decline and may potentially remain under $2 in the days to come.

Turning off this ad represents a missed opportunity once again.

Never turn off profitable ads again

Hopefully by now you’re convinced that the way we’re so used to looking at Facebook ad reports is causing us to lose many opportunities.

I mentioned earlier that I discovered a way that plugs our leaky ad optimisation process. I call it the Troubleshooting system.

The Troubleshooting system is a 3-step process that takes you from shortlisting the most ineffective ad sets to picking out the most costly ads in the most efficient manner.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1

Assuming that you’re running a lead generation campaign, create an ad report with the following columns:

  1. Reach
  2. Frequency
  3. CPM
  4. Registrations
  5. Cost per registration

Here’s how it should look like. Also, take note of the 3 things boxed up in red:

  1. Choose “Level: Ad Set”
  2. Pick a time period. This will determine how often you look at your ads. For example, if you analyse your ad results every 3 days, then you can pick last 3 days as the time period
  3. Filter only the campaign you’re analysing and make sure you don’t mix up multiple campaigns

Next, sort your ad sets by “Cost per Registration”. Then copy the name of the most expensive ad set on the list.

Once you’re done, hit the “Save Report” button at the top and name it as “Troubleshooting - Step 1”.

Step 2

Next, create another ad report and select the same columns again. This time, look out for these 3 things:

  1. Choose the “Level: Ad” instead
  2. Choose the same time period as the first ad report
  3. Click on “+Add Filter” and paste the name of the most expensive ad set you copied earlier

Here’s how it should look like. You should sort your ads by cost per registration once again.

In this step, you’re basically trying to isolate the ad(s) that is(are) responsible for the high cost per registration. By doing so, you avoid turning off ads that are effective.

Once you’re done, hit the “Save Report” button at the top and name it as “Troubleshooting - Step 2”.

Step 3

Finally, create another ad report and select the same columns again. This time, look out for these 4 things:

  1. Select “Breakdown: Daily” again
  2. Expand your time period to analyse an individual ad’s performance over time
  3. Click on “+Add Filter”, copy and paste both the names of the most expensive ad and the ad set it belongs to
  4. Sort your ad by end date

This is how the final ad report should look alike. You should NOT sort the ad by cost per registration in this case.

Once you’re here, look over to the “Cost per Registration” column. If you see that over the last few days, there has either been no conversions or that the cost per registration is consistently above your benchmark ($2 in the example we used), then you should turn off this ad.

Once again, hit the “Save Report” button at the top and name it as “Troubleshooting - Step 3”.

Final thoughts

I understand that this may be fairly advanced for many of you and I don’t expect you to understand everything after reading through just once. So I highly recommend you to bookmark this post and re-visit it later when you have 20-30 minutes to spare. Go through every step with your own Facebook ad report and you will benefit from it.

If you hit any roadblocks, help will always be available.

Now that you have all 3 ad report templates ready, here is how you will make use of them to manage your ads efficiently and effectively:

  1. Every time you analyse an ad campaign, open 3 browser windows:
    1. Troubleshooting - Step 1
    2. Troubleshooting - Step 2
    3. Troubleshooting - Step 3
  2. Copy the name of the worst performing ad set into both Step 2 and Step 3
  3. Copy the name of the worst performing ad into Step 3
  4. Analyse the trend of the ad performance. If it doesn’t show any sign of improving, turn it off.
  5. Repeat points 2 to 4 until you reach the ad sets that cost less than your benchmark or minimal profitable level

Action item: Click below to watch the video