Wednesday, all over the world, online marketers experienced drastic changes in their Facebook advertising performance.  Most advertisers saw large drops in both impressions and clicks.  The bigger the ad spend, the larger the drop, some as high as 60%.

There are many factors that go into advertising performance, and some immediately checks come up negative:

  • Has the volume suddenly dried up? Are they all on vacation? This is not the case as these drops cross industries, markets, and demographics.
  • Has the competition gone up, increasing the minimum bid? No sir, bid recommendations remain the same.
  • Did your intern pause all of your Campaigns? No, interns are kept locked in the conference room.

All signs point to Facebook changing the way they serve ads.  Data collected since Wednesday shows no signs of return, leading most to assume these changes are here to stay.

While you may think it a bit odd for Facebook to suddenly change the way they do business, keep in mind they continually change their interface- much to the (dis)like of the majority of their users.  Those changes, however, typically allow people to revert back to the old style for a few days.

If you think it’s confusing, you’re not alone.  Reps at Facebook have been scrambling to come up with answers as large checkbook advertisers flood their phone lines.  I can almost imagine the hoards of online marketers yelling: “This wouldn’t happen on Google!”

I applaud Facebook for continuing to grow and mature it’s ad serving platform. They’ve got plenty of targeting power and are slowly learning how to enable everyone to use it.  My problem is with their implementation and lack of communication. If you’re the biggest, badest, fastest growing social platform- the future of the web, ACT like it.  Get a campus like Google, hire a beebop flute player, and seek measurable perfection in all that you do.

Potentially related, Facebook has publicly discussed their work on optimization the News Feed with a system called EdgeRank.  A great News Feed will make for better user experience, but the ad platform is what keeps the iguana fed at Facebook.  They need to devote more attention to the business side of the house.

Triage – What can you do? Test results haven’t come back yet.  In the mean time, here are a few potential band-aids:

  • Ensure your bids are within the suggested range & test upping your bids.
  • Create new ads with the same & new copy.
  • Compare performance across multiple accounts & campaigns.

The way I see it, Facebook will either revert and reevaluate or adjust and inform.  My guess is that they’ll tweak what they’ve done- though there is a sense of urgency.  You’re spending less, and they’re making less so it’s going to be a working weekend at Facebook.

I also recommend adjusting your Facebook advertising strategy.  The system is changing and soon the new levers that affect performance will become clear.  Gear yourself up for a Facebook Quality Score, complete with it’s own set of algorithmic quirks and voodoo rules.  The positive side is that they’re moving toward Quality, which should benefit us all in the future.

If you’ve had any performance changes recently, please post them below:

  • Kris Nelson

    I started noticing this, too. Not a big spender, but after about 2-3 weeks of solid results, things tried up overnight.

    Anxiously waiting for more news here.

  • Casey Cheshire

    Our accounts have started to trend upwards again. I have a feeling Facebook is going to sweep this one under the carpet. How are your stats looking now?

  • Kris Nelson

    I had tried to create a new ad as your post suggested, but when that didn't seem to help, I paused them all.

    Glad to hear yours are turning around again. Just enabled my again, so we'll see how long it takes.

    Thanks for the update.

  • Casey Cheshire

    New ads didn't work for me either, both new and old ad seemed restricted by the same invisible force. My spend is back to normal, though my graphs haven't updated with the new data. Wake up Facebook! Get your act together!

  • Kris Nelson

    It has seemed to turn itself around, too.

    Another interesting note, I had been bidding at $0.85 for one of my ads per the suggestion on the page, but noticed the average was about $0.45. Dropped it down to $0.25 and it still used up my daily quota.

    After 2 days of that, the suggested bid range displayed is down to where I'm bidding and not up near $1.00. Would have been nice for FB to tell me I was overpaying (not likely).

  • Casey Cheshire

    Wow! That's definitely something to take a look at- especially if you were getting the same volume. Thanks for the tip!

  • AdBuyer

    After returning to normal two weeks ago, our impressions started a dramatic drop and are now at about 5% of our peak performance (and daily budget). Is anyone seeing this now?

    Also, as I click around my own FB pages, I see absolutely no ads being served. What gives?

  • Casey Cheshire

    I saw the same dip you're talking about with multiple campaigns in different accounts- they've since returned to normal though. Have yours?

  • REM

    I posted a new ad and without authorization FB ran old campaigns as well. The site is confusing and not worth the money. Google is much more clear – and also productive as measured by sales on Amazon.

  • Casey Cheshire

    Hi REM- thanks for the comment! I've also experienced problems with old, paused ad creative deciding it wanted to run again. Normally, with a professional ad buying site you'd attribute this to user error but with Facebook's platform being so new and buggy it's a different story.

    Google is much more polished, clear, and in most cases provides the best results. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Facebook is a growing trend and advertising on that platform is growing as well. In many cases it is actually worth the money. The differences between the two platforms often makes it difficult to find the right combination on Facebook.