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Why the New #Facebook Ads Campaign Layout Handicaps Marketers

Last week, Facebook unrolled a new layout for their All Campaigns Page– which, surprisingly, lacks crucial at-a-glance information for advertisers. Far be it from us to assume what’s going on in Zuckerberg & Co.’s head, but one thing’s for certain: Facebook API tools are now more crucial than ever, especially for managers of large campaigns.

Read on for a comparison of the old and new Facebook Ads layout, and our team’s two cents on why it totally handicaps marketers.

“We’re making improvements…” began Facebook’s pop-up notification, prompting me to “Upgrade now.”  IMHO, these redesigns are far from improvements and upgrades. Like a sucker, I clicked on the green button. And there was no turning back. #Facepalm.

Old Layout

In the former layout, columns from left to right began with Campaigns, Status, and [Daily] Budget. Active Campaigns pushed to the top of the list, and appeared in alphabetized order (one of the few features that carried through to the new layout).

After the basic info & stats followed the meat:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR
  • Spend (for the campaign’s lifetime)

These metrics allow advertisers to make quick account assessments… Is a campaign gaining impressions or clicks? How bad (or good) is a campaign’s CTR? The critical decision-making metrics immediately alerted advertisers where ad-triage was necessary.

A handy line graph also adorned the bottom of Facebook’s All Campaigns page. Though it could become superfluous to account managers with a boatload of campaigns, it was doubtless useful to many marketers and clients.

Fine, Facebook. I have craved other elements and features for the All Campaigns page, but who am I to ask Facebook for anything? Even if I did ask, what good would it do?

New “Upgraded” Layout

A result of the new “improvements” is a FB Ads layout lacking those coveted decision-making metrics. Clicks, Impressions, and CTR have vanished from the UI, as well as that nifty graph at the bottom. Instead, advertisers now only see their campaigns’:

  • Status
  • Start Date
  • End Date
  • Budget
  • Remain Budget
  • Spent

Um… thanks? Let’s unpack the function behind the new columns:

  • An advertiser with his/her ish together knows when a campaign began and when it should end, if they even want to identify an end date.
  • The budget is still there with two more columns that describe what’s remaining and what’s been spent of the budget. I guess that’s helpful, but is the alleviation of us having to perform simple match worth the replacement of CTR, impressions, etc?
  • In short, the new layout’s at-a-glance metrics are useful, but not at the expense of what’s been taken. Advertisers can’t even compare campaigns’ performance on this page!

Instead of offering real metrics of what’s going on in a campaign, Facebook assumes all advertisers want to know (at least, again, at-a-glance) is how much money has been shipped to Facebook, and how much more is they have left to shell out. Kill me now. Neat.

It stands to note that our coveted decision-making data is still available, just one click away from the main dashboard:

Best practices for streamlined navigation suggest we should reduce number the hurdles (aka: clicks) for a user to get where/what they want online… shouldn’t the same hold true for Facebook and the advertising UI? : )

Yet… what of the handy line graph? Gone. Make it yourself in Excel. 

R.I.P.

Update (2/23/11) Received a lovely Facebook Newsletter boasting their Updates to Ads Manager:

No, Facebook, this does NOT “improve usability” nor does it “highlight the key information.” Not. At. All.

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12 Comments

  1. Robert Brady on February 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Let ‘em have it Merry. Maybe somebody over there will listen.

  2. Lori Lorusso on February 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    This is a great post for those of us in between campaigns. Merry makes some great points and Facebook makes some small yet significant errors… again. Thanks!

  3. Merry Morud on February 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Lori, thanks for stopping by & sharing the post on Facebook :) It never ceases to surprise me that Facebook will unroll new “upgrades” that just plain don’t make sense, especially on the advertising side!

  4. Merry Morud on February 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    * crosses fingers * Let’s hope so… but I wont be holding my breath :) thanks for hanging in there with us!

  5. Kevin on February 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Is it me or have the CPC’s jumped up heavily in the last two weeks as well?

  6. Vlad Rascanu on February 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Well, I’m assuming they removed the 3 columns (Impressions, Clicks, and CTR) and the graph because the numbers were so poor in comparison to those of other search engines. I have seen many campaigns get under 1% CTR on facebook… you can get better and cheaper results using the traditional direct mail channel and that’s sad. I guess it makes sense for them not to show you your results… they’re probably embarrassed :)
    I can’t see any other reason.

  7. Merry Morud on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    @ Kevin They’ve been steadily climbing for my ads… :\ they wont stay cheap forever that’s for sure. Bids are also a result of Quality score (something to consider) Good luck & thanks for coming ’round to our part of the inter-webz :D

  8. Merry Morud on February 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    @Vlad that’s a great hypothesis! Perhaps they are embarrassed their numbers aren’t as good as other contextual networks… though hiding the numbers advertisers need is just plain crazy! (sort of like when I used to hide my peas under the plate rim at dinner as a kid… :)

  9. Sam on February 21, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I am totally with Vlad’s theory on this, and immediately thought the same thing when the changes were made. By dumbing down the displayed metrics Facebook is essentially saying, “hey, no need to calculate ROI and measurable outcomes just make sure you keep up with the admin stuff.”

    The only positive way I think they could spin this is as an attempt to appeal to lesser sophisticated advertisers who are more concerned with their actual spend than the return. Even if so, this seems to be a strange move. Maybe this is the first move in a larger change? Does Facebook have something larger up their sleeve that they will be revealing with regard to their network? :)

  10. Merry on February 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

    @ Sam

    I HAVE heard murmurings of bigger changes at work for the Facebook Ads platform :)

    That said, the layout, #nothelpful.

    Perhaps they are trying to mask the abysmal CTRs (as Vlad pointed out) for less sophisticated advertisers, though that doesn’t quite make sense to me… they’re making it more difficult for people who use it most & probably spend more money.

    *throws hands up* Who knows what Zuck & Co. are plotting?!

    I feel there are very forward-thinking elements Facebook COULD be working towards but I see no evidence eg: better search features (local *could* be HUGE for them), even more robust targeting for advertisers, more reporting metrics (I *want* to know the feedback from my ads if users thought they were offensive, misleading etc… FB just spanks you instead of being constructive) more features for Page Admins and actually *listening* to their users… and the beat goes on… *sigh*

    Thanks for your 2cents Sam : ) you made some great points. Thanks for hanging with us at aimClearblog!

  11. Kevin V on February 22, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Very informative and useful for us who work with facebook campaigns. I really hope this crazy system soon. * crosses fingers *

  12. Merry Morud on February 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

    @Kevin It just killed me when I got Facebook’s Newsletter yesterday: “improve usability & highlight key info” …

    I’m baffled. Do they really think that was more helpful (in that case they need some new counsel) or… are they trying to “cover their tracks” (aka poor CTR) so to speak as Vlad & Sam suggested.

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