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Five Things Facebook Needs to Learn From Google AdWords

Published: August 27, 2013

Author: Sean Quadlin

The amount of changes that Facebook advertising has undergone in the year 2013 is pretty staggering.  New features are being released so frequently that it sometimes feels like we’re in the middle of a movie montage about Facebook training for a big showdown.  They’re getting better all the time.
If we really are mid-montage, there are still a few things that I’m hoping to see in that montage’s back half.  Facebook is so close to being advertiser friendly.   Here’s one advertiser’s wish list for how they could go the rest of the way and win the final showdown in whatever online advertising’s version of the Thunderdome is.


1. Better Reporting

The new reporting center that was released a little bit ago is still in the process of being rolled out universally.  By the time it arrives in your account, you should be in a much better spot to report on what’s going on in your account.  You can customize things like crazy and make your reporting as unique and wonderful as your heart desires.
However, it’s still not perfect.  The dynamic date ranges aren’t ideal, as they include today in whatever info you’re looking at.  AdWords uses the seven days before today, which seems minor until you think about how different your report will look at 7 am compared to 4 pm.  Morning people and afternoon people could have divergent views on an account just because they looked at the same report at different times of day.
I would also love to have better reporting for parent accounts.  Right now I can only find spend for each of my accounts individually, but I really want to be able to pull all stats for all accounts (as you can do in AdWords).  Maybe there could be change coming with the new report roll-out, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that within Facebook just yet.

2. Frequency Capping

AdWords offers a great report on their dimensions tab that breaks down performance metrics by the number of times people have seen their ads.  In Facebook, we can see reach and frequency for our ads, but we can’t see performance across those metrics.  I’ve targeted super small groups before and I know the feeling of a double-digit frequency.  My heart goes out to those people being bombarded with my ads, but I want to know if it’s an effective bombardment.  I wouldn’t feel so bad if I knew engagement was still high past 8 impressions (I would still probably feel bad, but I have guilt issues).
The best part of that report is knowing where you should set your frequency cap so that you can improve performance.  Not only can you not see performance in Facebook, you can’t go the next step and institute a cap on it.  As advertisers we want to have a good conversation with potential customers, and no good conversation goes on without an endpoint.  Allow us the chance to say enough is enough.

3. Remarketing from Inside the Main Interface

FBX is amazing. It is even more amazing now that the news feed has been offered up as a placement.  Why do advertisers have to go through third parties to get to this treasure trove of targeting?  AdWords remarketing is available to anyone that wants it right in the interface.
I fully recognize there are business and technological factors that go into the decision, but I also fully recognize that it’s not ideal for the advertiser.  While we marketers fully recognize the value (and beauty) of testing new things, those in charge of marketing budgets often need more convincing.  Trying out Facebook ads is often a battle in and of itself – adding that next layer of a new agreement with a third party that often require monthly minimum spends is limiting the number of advertisers that will experiment in Facebook (I know this from experience.)
Allow regular, basic advertisers to take the plunge into remarketing and there will surely be more successful experiments within Facebook ads.  More successful tests = more budget = a win for everyone.

4. More Standardized Support

Support for advertisers is another area in which I’ve seen Facebook grow by leaps and bounds over the past year.  They’re definitely working on it, but there is still room to grow.
Once you reach a threshold of spend within AdWords you can get a dedicated rep who you can rely on when you have a question.  I’ve been assigned Facebook reps in the past, but always with the caveat that they were only there to help for the first thirty days.  I’m guessing that the extremely high rollers on Facebook have indefinite contact with their reps, but for the rest of us we’re left out in the cold.  I don’t need to talk to someone every week (or even every month) – I really just want a name on file in case something comes up.
The current setup emphasizes that they’ll help advertisers get up to speed, but then they’re done with you.  I wish that the relationships didn’t focus on the end of the window in which they could help us, but instead on being there as support should something come up.

5. Mobile URL tagging

This one is a technical limitation that I find a little bit baffling.  I’ve been running promoted posts and adding in manual URL tagging to all of my ads so I could track my return on investment, which any advertiser would be doing.  While Facebook will let you upload mobile ads with optional URL tracking, they won’t actually use that tracking.  Who knew that the “optional” also applied to Facebook’s systems?
I reached out about this problem and was told that they don’t offer mobile URL tracking.  Which is a bummer.  A big bummer.  The bummer-iest of bummers.  As I said before about FBX, I imagine that there are technical reasons for why mobile URL tagging isn’t offered, but I don’t really care about them.  I just want to track my mobile URLs.  We can do it in AdWords, so why not in Facebook?
I recognize that each item on this list falls somewhere on the nitpick scale, and that’s a sign that things are heading in the right direction.  We know what Facebook ads can produce, and I think some of these small changes would help this engine produce even more.

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