Know Your Facebook Ad Rates: CPM and Cost Per Page Like by Placement

Facebook Ad Rates: CPM and Cost Per Page Like by Placement

[AUDIO VERSION: I also recorded an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen. Let me know if this is something you find helpful!]

Cookie cutter articles are routinely written that proclaim that “the Facebook sidebar is a wasteland” or “mobile is where it’s at on Facebook.” They’re all wrong.

In this post, I’m going to explain why before presenting my own data to show you what I’m seeing regarding the evolution of CPM costs and Cost Per Page Like by placement, dating back to August of 2013.

The Problem With Universal Truths

Reports come out regularly that give us an idea of the trending costs and performance of Facebook ads. They are interesting, but they are nothing more than a mash-up of hundreds of advertisers.

How much were those advertisers spending? What were they promoting? What were the sizes of their potential audiences? Were they using CPM, CPC or oCPM? Were their ads effective?

These reports are good for entertainment purposes. They can even provide a lightbulb moment, inspiring you to take a second look at your ads.

But do not let these reports guide your advertising habits. Focus on your results only.

The truth is that the Facebook advertising landscape is constantly evolving. Costs will go up and down based on competition. And what you see may not be what I see depending on industry, audience, copy, imagery and a long list of factors.

Using the RIGHT Data

Something else to consider is that advertisers are often distracted by the wrong data. Don’t be one of those advertisers.

For example, your Click Through Rate on the sidebar may be awful. It probably is. But it’s generally much, much cheaper to reach users in the sidebar, too.

In the end, the only metric that truly matters is your Cost Per Desired Action. Everything else can cloud the picture and lead you down the wrong path.

Back in November…

I’ve heard more times than I can count that you shouldn’t advertise on Facebook’s sidebar. In fact, I’d estimate that 9 of 10 advertisers I talk to completely ignore it in favor of the News Feed.

But I’ve found that the sidebar works just fine. In fact, back in November I reported seeing that the sidebar was more effective than mobile for getting page likes, registrations and even sales.

As with everything, things change. It’s why I suggest that you constantly monitor your results to optimize based on what is working and what isn’t.

My Data

I decided to pull all of my results dating back to August of 2013. The reason I selected this starting point is based on sample size. I started investing close to a minimum of $2,000 per month starting in August.

I ran two reports to get a better handle on costs based on placement. Know that you can run a similar report using your Facebook ad reports.

I first broke down the impressions and spend for all advertising by placement. On average, I spent the following per month:

  • Desktop News Feed: $1,010.45
  • Mobile News Feed: $714.22
  • Desktop Sidebar: $169.26

Since competition will differ wildly depending on placement (I previously found that the cost to reach users on the sidebar was 1/20 of Desktop News Feed and 1/50 of mobile), I then found the CPM for each placement.

Next, I focused only on my page like ads run during these months to track the cost of a page like by placement over time.

Following is my average ad spend for page likes per month, by placement:

  • Desktop News Feed: $385.03
  • Mobile News Feed: $367.35
  • Desktop Sidebar: $92.72

As you can see, I spend about 45% of my ad budget on building a relevant audience.

My Advertising Habits

It’s first important to note that I use Optimized CPM almost exclusively.

If you aren’t familiar with oCPM, this is Facebook’s default bidding method. Facebook will optimize your audience, showing your ad to the people most likely to perform your desired action. Your bid is also dynamic, as Facebook will bid what is necessary to reach that audience (budget and audience size being important factors).

As a result of using oCPM, my CPM prices will always be significantly higher than advertisers who use manual bids. But I’m confident I also get the corresponding “optimized” results (see my study on using oCPM over CPM).

Additionally, I promote to audiences of varying sizes, from a few thousand to several million. The size of the audience will also impact the cost to reach those people.

Facebook CPM by Placement

You’ll recall that back in November, I saw a huge difference in CPM depending on placement. Let’s see how that has evolved since August…

Facebook CPM by Placement per Month

As you can see, I saw CPM drop steadily across all placements from August through December, but it then rose quite a bit beginning in January.

Previously, the cost to reach users on mobile devices was significantly higher than the cost to reach them in the desktop News Feed. Beginning in December (January being the exception) that is no longer the case for me. CPM for desktop and mobile News Feed is now nearly identical.

Average CPM for my ads by placement from August through December of 2013 was as follows:

  • Desktop News Feed: $2.14
  • Mobile News Feed: $4.36
  • Desktop Sidebar: $.08

Average CPM for my ads by placement in 2014 is currently as follows:

  • Desktop News Feed: $6.72
  • Mobile News Feed: $7.49
  • Desktop Sidebar: $.15

Note that CPM doubled for the sidebar, tripled for desktop News Feed, and nearly doubled for mobile. There are many explanations for this, and we shouldn’t apply a global rule.

I considered not reporting dollar figures at all since the ratio is actually most important. If I begin focusing on a smaller audience — or raise my budget for the same audience — oCPM prices are bound to increase. So I encourage you to focus more on the ratios.

It now costs me 45 times more to reach users in the desktop News Feed and 50 times more to reach users on mobile than the sidebar. In other words, the ratio remained steady for mobile News Feed vs. sidebar, but price of desktop News Feed has increased.

My Theory: Fewer users are accessing Facebook via desktop than ever before. Meanwhile, advertisers continue to favor this real estate. As a result of increased competition, prices are increasing for the desktop News Feed.

Cost Per Page Like by Placement

It’s costing me quite a bit more to reach users now than it was at the end of 2013. So how is this impacting my Cost Per Page Like?

Facebook Cost Per Page Like by Placement per Month

As you can see in the chart above, the cost of Page Likes has remained steady or even dropped on mobile; desktop News Feed is constantly evolving; and the sidebar is at an unacceptably high rate.

Here’s a breakdown of the average Cost Per Page Like by month from August through December of 2013:

  • Desktop News Feed: $.40
  • Mobile News Feed: $.49
  • Desktop Sidebar: $.40

Desktop was most efficient for me, whether in the News Feed or sidebar.

Now let’s look at January through April of 2014:

  • Desktop News Feed: $.55
  • Mobile News Feed: $.44
  • Desktop Sidebar: $.46

The median cost is a bit misleading given the way costs are trending for me. I’m currently seeing a cost of $.80 per Page Like in the sidebar, which I cannot continue to spend. Mobile is currently easily my most affordable placement.

Let’s also keep in mind that my ads may simply be less effective now. We can’t ignore that possibility. I continue to refresh them monthly. But generally, I’m seeing an increase in costs for Page Likes on desktop (especially for sidebar) while mobile is now more attractive.

Overall, while CPM has doubled or tripled for my ads, the cost for Page Likes has increased but not at that rate. Facebook advertising appears to be getting more competitive, but oCPM is optimized to the point where the increasing CPM costs are not resulting in huge increases in costs for Page Likes.

Reminder: A Word of Caution

Once again, these results are based on my advertising only. This is not meant to be a universal report on how Facebook advertising costs are trending.

This is what I am seeing based on the audience I target, the creative and copy I’m using and the budgets I set.

The bottom line here is that the landscape is constantly changing. Monitor your results to determine the best possible placement for your ads.

Your Turn

What results are you seeing? Is mobile becoming more affordable for you, too?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • John F. Hunt

    Just took a quick a quick look at a recent campaign (1 week of ads). We were driving clicks to our “Keeping You Organized” podcast. Using oCPM bidding we targeted CWA (website visitors), Website Lookalike Audience, and an Interests list that we’ve used in the past. The Desktop right sidebar ads got more reach, lowest CPM ($1.00), and most clicks to our content – 10X clicks than our Desktop Newsfeed ads.. In the same campaign the Desktop Newsfeed got higher CTR, a higher CPM ($9.00) and lower Cost Per Click, but much less reach. Since we are primarily interested in driving the traffic to the content how would you judge the effectiveness of one versus the other? We bought oCPM not CPC so I’m not sure what the performance would have been had we bid CPC.

    • Jon Loomer

      I’d be looking only at your Cost Per Link Click in this case (assuming you can’t track download), John. I documented CPM above just to show how that’s trending, but the only actionable metric you should be looking at is your Cost Per Desired Action.

  • @CarlinStanton

    Hey Jon, Thanks for all the research you provide for those of us in the trenches. I don’t doubt what your results are showing (supply and demand – right?). However, I wonder if maybe you have personally skimmed off the cream of the crop already – the internet marketers who are looking for every good tip to improve their FB ad performance. It may be that now that you have come into your own, that you are having to reach down further to bring in email subscribers and likes just because the most active advertisers are already reading your material regularly. Is that likely?

    • Jon Loomer

      Let’s not get crazy, Carlin! My audience isn’t that big. We’re only talking 50,000 fans and the pool to pull from is a whole lot bigger!

  • Dan Jost

    Just ran a campaign with a sizable budget and mobile placement was definitely the most affordable and efficient for the target audience.

  • Benjamin Hoffman

    Jon – I just bought your Power Editor course. It’s great. Although, I have a few questions about this article:

    1) I hear that sidebar is GREAT for retargeting. When you pulled your numbers, did you isolate the retargeting to see how those performed? Or more importantly, do you have any thoughts about retargeting on sidebar vs. retargeting on newsfeed…. and which is more effective?

    2) Frequency capping. You’ve written in the past to keep it at 8 most and that 3 is caution area. I’ve noticed that my sidebar ads are hitting 15 to 20… so does your rule about 8 and 3 still apply equally to sidebar as it does the newsfeed? (I can’t seem to keep my sidebar ads below 5 for frequency).

    3) I noticed when I create an ad and do not choose a specific placement, Facebook places it wherever they want and they allocate my budget how they see fit. Do you duplicate your ads so you can target by placement or simply run one ad and hope for the best?

    Thanks in advance for the help!!

    • Jon Loomer

      Hey, Benjamin.

      1) I use retargeting with all placement. Doesn’t matter.

      2) For the most part, I disregard frequency for the sidebar. It’s another reason why you should use the ad reports to break this apart.

      3) If it’s a long campaign, I might create separate ads to optimize for the different image dimensions and copy limitations for sidebar and News Feed. Otherwise, I’ll run one ad to all placements.

  • Terry Crosby

    You’re spot on. Mobile is more cost effective and where 80% of my impressions are delivered.

  • tom

    Awesome article, and its really interesting to see the data stacking up for mobile v desktop. I think even more interesting tho is the data between sidebar and news feed. I see some people claiming to disregard the sidebar entirely… Which is just crazy to me. Great to see the stats behind that.

  • Mitch

    1. You rock ! Everyone knows that
    2. I have found that desktop newsfeed is best for products over $100. Would love your insights on marketing to mobile as I have found selling my fitness boot camps on desktop newsfeed is great but much cart abandonment on mobile
    3. I truly believe one of the reasons is because shopping carts like paypal and even 1sc aren’t great looking and have a clunky user experience on mobile and would love your thoughts

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks Tom! Selling anything on mobile will be significantly impacted by the buying user experience. It has to be simple, which is difficult for a monetary transaction!

      • mitch

        i have a few friends that use infusion soft and their coder changed some things around and BOY is it an awesome mobile checkout experience.. one page long and the fields are huge like optin box fields…..

        makes me wanna move over to infusionsoft…!

  • Aron

    “or raise my budget for the same audience” – did you mean raise your bid? How would raising your budget affect your CPM?

    • Jon Loomer

      If you have a large budget for a small audience, Facebook is then forced to use your dynamic bid to reach as many of those people as possible, thereby potentially increasing CPM.

      Think of it this way… You first target 100 people with a $1 budget. Facebook bids what it needs to bid to reach as many of those people as possible and get to your $1 budget. You then raise your budget to $100. Facebook needs to show your ad a high number of times to those 100 people, thereby outbidding essentially every advertiser otherwise targeting those 100 people. oCPM goes sky high.

      You’ll see this when your budget is too high for a small audience. oCPM will be $20+.

  • Jemolian

    An example of a recent ad that i ran gotten me, in terms of unique clicks & CPC;
    394 (Mobile Newsfeed, $0.06) > 39 (Desktop Newsfeed, $0.08) > 3 (Right Side Ads, $0.03 & $0.06)

    We really need to look at the results before deciding what is best for the demographics before scaling.

  • Mark H

    Hi Jon,

    I see most marketers like yourself and others show us charts that look straight to the point. And seldom use the channel reporting facilities (like Facebook Ad reports screenshots) – what tool do you use to create these charts?

    Thank you

  • Carolina Tomazetti

    I love the audio!!! I prefer it than the words. =D

  • Colin Hatzmann


    Thanks for the wonderful post. I’m running my first like campaign in the sidebar and seeing a really low CPM (about 25 cents) and cost per like (about 4 cents) to a target audience of about 1.2 million.

    One thing that I’m noticing is some very strange like behaviour from some of the likes I am getting. I’m talking about people that have liked over 7K things.

    It certainly seems as if some of the likes are coming from a like-farm of some sort. What do you do to deal with this? Should I limit my target audience more? It should be noted that I am getting some legit likes as well.


    • Terry D. Whalen

      I suggest you double – check your targeting to make sure you are not inadvertently targeting the wrong audiences, for example countries outside of the US. if you in fact are getting numerous fake fans, then this could actually hurt you over time.

  • Jessica

    Thanks to you I am learning how to analyze my data better. I have what feels like a basic question: How am I getting “Page Likes” from FANS? For example, in the screenshot below, I garnered 142 page likes from Mobile Device feed for Fans of my page already? Any sight– could this be a result of fans sharing with non-fans?

    • Lisa Roush

      thís is tips on how to refill your bank account wíth additíonal money each week.. check my profile for more ìnformatíon

  • Sash

    Who´s copying who here? I assume its the other guy… Might want to take a look..

  • Joey Gedgaud

    The most important thing in this article is how in depth you and how you connect everything. Run things numbers is the most important thing on social media. Thank you.

  • Maxim Cherepovitsyn

    Hey does anyone know why some people see FB adverts and others Facebook ads which looks like updated view that I believe is limited in functionality?

  • Counselor Insite

    Thank you, this helped me so much!

  • Mansoorr

    The most Beautiful And Attractive Girl Never seen Before.

  • Trisha Scarlet

    Learning new things is good.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Fanatics Experience , WOW : Amazing result

  • Crappy Khan

    I just heard that facebook has increased its advertisement cost by 20 times. Can anyone confirm it?

    • Onlinegusto

      My CPPL for a fitness page is around $0.1.. so i doubt it..

  • Dinnae Galloway

    Hi Jon, I’d love to know what your data says for 2015? :) Thanks!