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Facebook to improve advertising with relevance scores

By Jenna Cyprus     Feb 17, 2015 in Technology
Paid advertising on Facebook has grown a great deal over the past several years, to the point where it’s becoming a major rival to pay-per-click Google ads.
Like with Google ads, Facebook evaluates potential ads based on bid price and determined “relevance” when it determines which ads to show. Now, Facebook is revealing its “relevance score” to marketers in plain terms, which could have a profound effect on social media marketing and online advertising.
How the relevance score is calculated
Facebook recently posted a blog that covered how relevance scores are calculated, explaining the process in detail for business owners trying to improve their respective scores. According to the post, relevance scores are in large part determined by the amount of positive and negative feedback each ad is expected to receive. “Positive” interactions can vary, depending on the ad type, but typically include actions like video views or conversions. “Negative” interactions include people hiding or reporting an ad.
Based on these positive and negative indicators, Facebook calculates and overall score, from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest and most positive score an ad can receive. That score is initially based on predictions Facebook makes about your ad’s performance, but is updated in real time as more data on your ad begins to stream in.
Who the relevance score affects
Currently, there are 1.5 million businesses and individuals taking advantage of Facebook advertising, and most of them will, in some way, be affected by relevance scores. According to Facebook, the relevance score is not going to affect any ads with a guaranteed delivery, such as those purchased through reach and frequency: for example, a “boosted” Facebook status update would not be subject to a relevance score. Additionally, the relevance score has a reduced impact on ads in brand awareness campaigns, since they aren’t motivated by a specific call to action.
Potential benefits and drawbacks
Including the relevance score has the potential to improve the efficiency of advertising campaigns for social media marketers. For example, when the relevance score is properly understood, it can actually decrease the cost of reaching a target number of people. Since Facebook’s ad delivery and display system is based on relevance, the higher your relevance score is, the more people you will reach. If you understand the system properly and you optimize your posts for relevance, you’ll be able to reach a higher number of people at a reduced cost.
Similarly, the relevance score can help advertisers A/B test their advertising campaigns and improve on their overall messaging. While Facebook marketers have already been able to measure performance analytics for their individual ads for some time, Facebook’s reduction of those statistics into one, consolidated metric can help advertisers understand how their ads are performing comparatively at one glance.
However, there are a few potential drawbacks to the system. Since it is a consolidated metric, many businesses will use it as the sole indicator of their campaign’s success—an eventuality Facebook explicitly warns against. There are many factors you’ll have to consider to judge the performance of a campaign, such as how your customers are interacting and your overall ROI, and there are many other factors that go into determining an ad’s visibility, especially the bid amount.
How to use relevance scores properly
Any business advertising on Facebook should now be paying attention to their relevance score. However, it should not be used as the sole determining factor for an ad’s potential. Be sure to pay close attention to your bidding process to optimize your cost-to-benefit ratio in placing ads.
Once your ad is live, the relevance score becomes more significant. Running an A/B test is the best way to take advantage of a relevance score, and it can increase your total number of conversions if you execute the test early in your campaign. Even if your ads aren’t run at identical times or in identical markets, you can compare the relative effectiveness of your “A” and “B” ads using the relevance score, and determine which features your users like best. It’s still going to take an ongoing process of analysis and revision, but the objective, consolidated relevance score should hasten that process.
The average Facebook user saw 40 percent more ads between 2013 and 2014, and as Facebook continues to improve its advertising systems, that number is likely to continue growing. Facebook is making itself known as a major force in the digital advertising world, and its dedication to improving its system and offers for businesses is evidence of that. Savvy business owners will work actively to take advantage of relevance scores and other new Facebook advertising benefits while the platform is still young, capitalizing on the trend before prices and competition start to rise.
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