Effective Meta Advertising: Key Metrics Simplified

Meta gives advertisers seemingly limitless metrics that can distract us. Be careful. Simplify the key metrics that are most important.

While there may be a couple dozen or so metrics that are interesting for a given campaign, prioritize them into groups. Each group has a different level of usefulness.

Let me explain…

Primary Metrics

When it comes down to it, these are the only metrics that matter. There is no need to prioritize any metric over this group.

There are only two metrics here:

  1. Total Desired Actions
  2. Cost Per Desired Action

The Desired Action is the primary goal of your campaign. In many cases, it’s the “Results” column, which indicates the number of optimization actions.

Of course, it’s not necessarily what you are optimizing for. You may have determined that you can’t get enough volume of actions for the algorithm to properly learn by optimizing for a purchase, so you optimize for an add to cart. Does that mean that your desired action is an add to cart? No, it’s still a purchase.

If your goal action is a purchase, you could technically add a couple of metrics here as well:

  1. Total Value
  2. Return on Ad Spend

Especially if you sell many different products of varying price points, value and ROAS are critically important. You may not sell many of those $500 products, but you’re getting a great return due to the value of the purchases you get.

Bottom line is this: Whether or not your campaign is working is expressed through your primary metrics.

Secondary Metrics

Your secondary metrics provide context and contribute to what you see in your primary metrics. But we can make too much of them.

Examples of secondary metrics can include:

  • Cost Per Link Click (CPC)
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM)
  • Cost Per Add to Cart

All of these metrics have an impact, but we can be misled by that perceived impact.

First, it’s foolish to make changes solely based on secondary metrics.

If your CPC sucks, but you get a great Cost Per Desired Action, who cares about that CPC? There’s no need to mess with it in an attempt to improve your Cost Per Desired Action.

If you’ve never seen a higher CPM before, but you’re getting a profitable Cost Per Desired Action, do you really want to tweak your campaign to improve the CPM?

Second, we often expect secondary metrics are tied more closely to primary metrics than they are.

For example, let’s say that your CPM is $50 and you have a Cost Per Desired Action of $10. If you cut that CPM down to $25, your Cost Per Desired Action would be $5, right?

The same if you cut your CPC or Cost Per Add to Cart in half. Or doubled your CTR. We assume that performance is directly tied to that.

Of course these things all impact our primary metrics. But it’s not as easy as simply improving those secondary metrics to improve the primary ones.

Maybe your CPM is high because of high competition. This is your ideal audience. You can cut your CPM by reaching different countries or reaching people in less competitive audiences. That’s unlikely to improve your results.

We see this mistake of making assumptions about resultant performance when it comes to these secondary metrics all the time. The problem is that while there is a relationship between primary and secondary metrics, it’s not always a clean, straight line.

Secondary metrics are still important, that’s why I’m mentioning them. Watch them. They can help you diagnose a problem. I use secondary metrics to help build the story for why something is performing the way it is.

Example: “Why is my Cost Per Desired Action going up?” My CPM has doubled compared to what it was before.

Your job isn’t necessarily to get your CPM back down. Instead ask why your CPM went up.

Is it due to seasonal competition? Is it due to ad fatigue? Or is it just a random quirk of the algorithm that is difficult to explain?

CTR can help you diagnose a problem, if there is one. Why are you getting bad results? Well, the CTR is terrible. Why is the CTR terrible? Now look at factors like targeting, ad copy, and creative to help explain it.

But once again, a great CTR won’t automatically lead to better results. Just optimize for link clicks or landing page views if you want a stellar CTR (NOTE: This will not help get more conversions!).

Tertiary Metrics

I’d be lying if I said that my Ads Manager features only a handful of metrics to keep things simple. I love metrics.

I have a saved report I call “The Good Stuff” that includes columns for everything I care about: Standard events, custom events, custom conversions, custom metrics, engagement, delivery, and everything in between. There are 52 columns of metrics in my report.

Seriously, I just counted.

But, the vast majority of these metrics are tertiary metrics. They are interesting. They help me know what’s going on. They weren’t the primary goal of the campaign and I won’t get mad or excited based on these metrics.

They help tell the full story of my campaign’s performance.

That’s it.

Be Informed

Look, it’s not that all of those metrics don’t matter. They do. But you can create more problems if you obsess over secondary and tertiary metrics.

Be an informed advertiser who uses metrics constructively. But simplify what you care about and your life will be a whole lot easier.

Watch Video

I recorded a video about this, too. Check it out below…

Your Turn

What metrics do you care about?

Let me know in the comments below!