A guide to Facebook's new quality rankings

By Jason Hall, Founder

FiveChannels Marketing


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July 29, 2019 | 7 min read

Facebook's reshaping the way it measures the performance of your ads: Its three new ranking metrics means you should rethink your social content strategy by focusing more on your advertising reach.

Facebook phone iPhone X

Its ad platform has ditched its single relevance score. In its place, Facebook is offering three new relevance indicators; quality ranking, engagement rate ranking, and conversion ranking.

So, what does it all mean? What do you need to do to maximize results from your advertising efforts?

Single relevance score is out

The latest Facebook updates have changed to give the relevance score added dimension.

Facebook has tossed out its old relevance score, which was the lone metric its paid advertising service was using until now. It gauged your ad's relevance to your target audience; the general premise was that the more relevant an ad was to your audience, the better the quality of the ad.

On a scale of 1–10, a rating of 1 was bad and meant that your ad was almost 100% irrelevant to your audience. It also meant a higher cost-per-click. Therefore, in order for Facebook to continue displaying the ad, you had to pay more.

It was great if your ad got a rating in the good zone, somewhere between 8 and 10. It resulted in a lower CPC and more frequent ad displays.

Likes, shares, engagement, and conversion were all considered as ad feedback. There is a catch, though. The relevance score algorithm wasn't based on actual feedback, but on anticipated feedback. This was its chief shortcoming.

The four parameters Facebook lumped together to rank relevance were:

  • Anticipated feedback
  • The ad's goal
  • Your audience definition
  • Ad relevance and freshness

This meant businesses had to do their own specific audience research first. Only then could they specify the parameters to apply to their target audience.

There was also no solid indication that a targeted ad’s strategy was on track and was hard to determine if the relevance score correlated with producing the desired results.

That's all old news now. So, let's get "more granular", as Facebook Business news describes it.

Relevance x3 rankings means more granularity

Getting more granular is good news. Granularity results from extracting greater detail from available data. This means sales and marketing performance indicators will be more accurate.

These new Facebook metrics improve its PPC advertising platform. Greater granularity will allow you to see the bigger picture with more precision. The diversity of each of the three new diagnostics metrics results in a more refined ranking.

New metrics

Starting on April 30, 2019, Facebook has rolled out a grouping of three new ways to measure relevance:

Quality Ranking: Perceived quality of your ad versus competitor ads with the same target audience.

Engagement Rate Ranking: Your ad's expected engagement compared with other ads competing for the same audience.

Conversion Rate Ranking: Anticipated rate versus other ads with the same audience and CRO goal.

What's the big deal?

The “relevance x3 rankings” are useful. As far as ads go, high relevance has a strong correlation with high performance.

Digital marketing factors that are contributors to high performance include:

  • Social media shareability
  • Varying the narrowness or broadness of your target audience
  • Frequent changes of creative to maintain freshness and prevent ad fatigue

The secret is to read the diagnostic reports from the relevance x3 rankings. You then take appropriate action to strengthen your weakest points.

The other secret

The other secret is not to ignore Facebook help files. Updates come with tips on how to read Ad Relevance Diagnostics.

This helpful information comes complete with an easy-to-follow table. It enables you to gain insights on your ad's precise weaknesses, and what you need to act on. Facebook also suggests how to interpret different possible permutations.

One example given was the following combination:

  • An average or above-average quality ranking
  • A below-average engagement ranking
  • A below-average conversion rate optimization (CRO) ranking

It then suggests that the ad isn't spurring interest or producing conversions.

Its recommendation, in this case, is that you improve the ad's relevance to your audience. You make the ad more engaging, eye-catching and interesting. You also need to improve your ad's call-to-action or post-click experience. Another suggestion is to target an audience more likely to interact with your ad and convert from it. This is how you diagnose under-performing ads.

The wider view

It was Facebook that developed the new ad relevance metrics, so it makes sense that it has also come up with specific ideas of how to deal with the results in the reports you receive.

For example, improving any of these rankings from low to average makes a large impact. By contrast, improving an average ranking to above-average has little impact.

The impact is even less if you ignore below-average rankings and only improve higher ones.

This is what Facebook's ad relevance diagnostics team has done, adopting a more holistic approach.

The Facebook Help Center suggests that you seek the "ideal creative/targeting fit," which it considers as a more effective strategy. It is less effective to seek the perfect creative and the ideal targeting as separate tasks. This is multivariate data crunching at its best.

Even fledgling marketing types would startle at the Help Center's next bit of advice. It suggests targeting a broad audience as a means to an end: to find very specific target audiences.

Our recommendation

Facebook is taking steps to incorporate a wider view of ad relevance diagnostics, which means an integrated approach is recommended.

You need an approach that looks at the reality of what digital marketing is in its simplest terms. It's about maximizing the interconnectivity of social media platforms, so you achieve the best possible ROI.

It is the kind of tool that enables fresh insights to the many other indicators you have to maximize. If you do that, you'll be well on your way to refining your business strategy.

A staggering 1.56 billion daily active users (DAU) log on to Facebook. The 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAU) as of March 31, 2019, represent a healthy year-on-year increase of 8%.

These numbers are encouraging, but it would be foolish to think of all these users as potential customers and to believe that you can rely solely on Facebook to achieve all your digital marketing goals.

We recommend a broad range of marketing strategies that act in synergy with each other in order to develop your full business potential and to sustain it in the face of competition.


Content by The Drum Network member:

FiveChannels Marketing

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness, traffic...

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