Facebook’s Ad Relevance Score is Going Away: What You Need to Know

Facebook recently announced a significant change to their advertising insights platform that could help brands and agencies optimize their ads more effectively. As of April 30, 2019, the Relevance Score will be replaced by three new metrics: Quality Ranking, Engagement Rate Ranking and Conversion Rate Ranking. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into what’s changing and what it means for your Facebook and Instagram advertising strategy and tactics.

What is a Relevance Score?

For those unfamiliar with Relevance Score, the outgoing metric is a 1-10 score assigned to ads. The score gives advertisers a sense of whether or not their target audience found the ad relevant, with 10 being the highest possible score. Factors that could improve an ad’s Relevance Score include positive interactions from users, such as video views and conversions, while negative interactions from users, such as hiding or reporting an ad, would lower the score. In general, Facebook advertisers sought to obtain a high relevance score because it was associated with lower costs to reach people and obtain conversions.

However, if your ad received a low relevance score, the single metric did not provide much information on how you should improve your ad. Was the problem with your ad copy, image or video? Were you targeting the wrong demographics or interests? Were you using a suboptimal ad format (carousel, single image, video etc.)? Without knowing exactly where the problem was, the standard procedure was to run a series of tests changing one variable at a time until performance improved. This method worked (and still does), but each of those tests required budget. The more budget used during the testing phase, the less budget available to put towards proven ads.

New, More Specific Metrics

Facebook’s new, more specific relevance metrics could help advertisers better understand where to start improving ads that receive a low relevance score or fail to meet the intended objective. Let’s look at each of the three metrics more closely.

Quality Ranking:

First, Facebook’s definition: “Quality ranking explains how your ad’s perceived quality compared to ads competing for the same audience. We measure ad quality through feedback from people viewing or hiding the ad and assessments of clickbait, engagement bait and other poor user experiences.”

Possible scores for this ranking, as well as the other two, will include:

  • Above Average (Where average represents the 35th to 55th percentile)
  • Average
  • Below Average (Bottom 35% of ads)
  • Below Average (Bottom 20% of ads)
  • Below Average (Bottom 10% of ads)​

If your ad receives a low Quality Ranking, you’ll want to start by taking a closer look at your creative assets, including your copy and imagery. Are you using a boring stock photo rather than an engaging photo of real customers? Are you engaging in outdated click-bait tactics rather than creating a message that highlights the compelling truth behind your product or service? At Brandware, we work closely with our clients to develop high quality, creative assets that ring true to their brand.

Engagement Rate Ranking:

Facebook defines this as “how your ad’s expected engagement rate compared to ads competing for the same audience. The expected engagement rate calculates the likelihood that a person will click, react to, comment on, share or expand an ad.”

This factor appears to be the most similar to the layman’s version of a relevance score, as the engagement rate will be heavily affected by how relevant your target audience finds your message. If an ad is irrelevant, the viewer will simply scroll by without engaging. It’s important to note here that Facebook takes a strong stance against engagement-baiting, so simply asking for likes or comments in your ad copy will not help you here.

At Brandware, we test a range of targeting strategies to obtain the lowest possible cost per conversion for our clients, including demographic targeting, interest-based targeting and custom and lookalike audiences created using the Facebook Pixel.

Conversion Rate Ranking:

According to Facebook: “Conversion rate ranking explains how your ad’s expected conversion rate compared to ads with the same optimization goal competing for the same audience. The expected conversion rate calculates the likelihood that a person who viewed your ad will complete your optimization goal.

This is likely the most subjective and potentially least useful ranking of the three that Facebook has proposed. As Facebook freely admits, average or expected conversion rates can vary widely across different categories of products and services. For example, conversion rates for ads pitching a pair of inexpensive sunglasses will likely be much higher than conversion rates for ads promoting a riding lawn mower that costs several thousand dollars.

The main judge of the success of your conversion rate should, in fact, be you (or your client). You need to determine your own acceptable customer acquisition cost and then analyze your return on ad spend accordingly.

Furthermore, this ranking will not be available for ads optimized for ad recall lift, impressions or reach since no further conversion event can be tracked. This score will also be unavailable for ads optimized for custom conversions, presumably because Facebook is unable to calculate an average rate for the wide range of custom conversion events that advertisers can configure.

What Next?

Facebook continuously seeks ways to improve its platform to attract more advertisers to the table. This change will ultimately help advertisers create better ads by offering more specific data points on which to act. This will, in turn, help both Facebook and advertisers by keeping end users happier with the content they see on Facebook.

As always, it’s important to remember that your goal in advertising is not to obtain a perfect score from Facebook but rather to reach the objectives you set in your strategic plan. If your conversion rates are satisfactory but your relevance scores are on the lower end, you may not need to take any action. On the other hand, if you’re not meeting your objectives these new relevance score rankings should help you know where to start adjusting.

If you’re struggling to find success with Facebook or Instagram advertising, or you’re not sure where to start, get in touch. We’d be happy to help you take advantage of what these platforms have to offer.

Tyler Sartin About the author
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