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The 3 Facebook Advertising Metrics That Actually Matter

Are you advertising on Facebook, or looking to get started? Then you’ve probably been staring at a wall of metrics and numbers, wondering where to focus your attention.

I’m going to show you which metrics really hold the key to Facebook advertising success.


First, let’s have a quick look at the full suite of metrics on offer:

Facebook Ad Metrics, in Full

Impressions are literally how many times someone saw your advert.

Reach is the unique number of impressions i.e. individual people.

Social impressions are ad impressions that include social context.

By that I mean if you target friends of people who like your page, then those people will see their friend’s name in the advert.

Depending on what you do and sell, this can trigger heightened engagement, but it certainly won’t work for all markets and industries.

Frequency – how many times a person, on average, has seen your advert.

Cost – this one should go without saying, your total spend for this period.

Clicks (all) is the total number of clicks on your ad. These could be likes, shares, link clicks or mere ad clicks.

CTR (short for click-through rate) – is split between ‘all’ and “link”.

There’s an important difference here; if your goal is to get engagement then the ‘all’ measurement for CTR is relevant. If you’re looking for clicks to your destination then ignore the CTR for ‘all’ as it will over-read your true CTR performance.

CPC (or cost per click),  is how much you spend per interaction with your ad. This might not be a link click. Sometimes people will just ‘like’ you ad and move on.

There is also a CPC measurement for link clicks which is probably more useful.

CPM (cost per mille), is the price you pay per 1,000 ad impressions.

Link clicks is simple enough, this represents the total clicks to links that take people off Facebook.

Engagement metrics are pretty self-explanatory, they come in the form of post likes, comments and shares.

In addition you will get page likes off the back of ads, which you can measure.

People taking action is the number of unique actions, per person. For example a single person liking a post and clicking the link is considered 1 person taking action.And finally

Relevancy is a simple metric, a bit like Google AdWords quality score, that signifies from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most relevant) how engaged your audience is with your ad.

It might be last on the list of metrics but it’s important to remember an above average relevance score directly correlates to spending less on ads.

Consider that when Facebook has to decide which ad to display to a specific user, they’ll have a preference to the more relevant ad being shown.

If that ad isn’t yours, it quickly become more expensive to advertise. This effect snowballs too.

With all that said, let’s cut through the noise and focus on the 3 ad metrics that really matter.

The 3 Facebook Metrics That Matter

So relevance is the most important metric then?

Well actually, no.



Let me explain:

Priority 1: Cost Per Acquisition

Let’s say you want to capture a lead for your offer. You will hopefully know your conversion rate and therefore how much that lead is worth to your business.

Therefore, you can calculate CPA, cost per acquisition.

Then it doesn’t matter if you spend $/£100 or 10,000. If your ads deliver for, or less than your target CPA, then you’re winning!

Okay but that’s in an ideal world, so the other 2 priority metrics I’d use to hone and fine tune your ads are CTR and Frequency.

Priority 2: Click-through Rate

Why CTR? Because it tells you how well you’re ad is performing and how many people care to click it.

When it comes to ‘what is a good CTR‘, consider than under 2% click-through is poor, particularly 1% or less which is diabolical.

Therefore if 2% is considered the average, you should be aiming for 3-4% or more.

If you start hitting 5-10% CTR and beyond, you know your message-to-audience match is strong.

A stronger than average click-through rate will in turn will drive down your CPC (cost per click) and cost per engagement.


Priority 3: Frequency

Frequency is the gauge for understanding if you’re about to burn your bridges and piss people off.

For that simple reason, it’s a really good social media performance metric! People are being interrupted by your ad, so you want to be sure you’re interrupting the right people.

If your frequency is under 5, which means on average people have seen your ad 5 times, then you’re in the safe zone.

5-10 is acceptable but less than optimal and will typically mean your CTR drops with time.

Over 10 and you’re in the danger zone, saturation isn’t attractive and people will tune out or worse mark your ads as junk.

If they do this you’ll be lost to them forever, well, on Facebook at least – and that’s a lot of people.

The 3 Critical Metrics

Those three metrics really hold the key to Facebook advertising success, they also keep analysis simple:

  1. CPA – Cost per Acquisition
  2. CTR- Click-through Rate
  3. Frequency

Keep an eye out for my coming post on the “4 Winning Facebook Ad Audiences for Better Results”, which gives you a simple 4-part audience structure to start from.

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Ed Leake

Author: Ed Leake

PPC nerd, founder and Managing Director of Midas Media, Ed started in 'tech' when he was 12 years old, building websites and selling computers from his parent's garage. Outside of work Ed enjoys yet more work, motorsport, attempting to cycle with clip-on shoes and refuelling on fresh doughnuts.


    1. Thanks Ernie, there are some within the post itself but essentially:

      US/EU average CTR on Facebook is around 1.6% for all ad types. So, I like to say 2% is the average.

      If you want to be better than average – you do 🙂 – then aim for 4%. At 4% CTR you’ll be be beating the vast majority of advertisers, get closer to 10% and you’ll be in the very top spots.

      Frequency needs a little testing but I see drop off in performance as early as 3x. But you can afford to go up to around 5x on frequency, beyond and you start to saturate your audience.

      Do test it though, some people still see acceptable performance at 10x frequency – but those are rare.

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