Ad Recall Lift and other metrics that should matter with social media advertising

Estimated Ad Recall Lift on Facebook

It is Tuesday, 23 July, 00:23GMT and I am awake and at this laptop — not because I want to be but because I am dealing with a client who cares.

This client cares beyond vanity metrics and it is a challenge I am intrigued with.

In today’s episode of To Hell With Your Numbers, I am thinking out loud about metrics that matter

They are all numbers, you know. Metrics, analytics, KPIs and all that are just numbers. But some are way more important than the others and today, specifically, I will look at what metrics you should use to evaluate your social ad campaigns.

Social advertising, on the whole, is very flexible and adaptive. It’s like having free studio time where you can sing (or shout — if you’re Shatta Wale) whatever tune you want. Awareness campaigns, no problem. Mid-funnel content marketing, you got it. Remarketing and retargeting, fantastic. Click to purchase commerce stuff (Think those Jumia ads). Beautiful. Gospel, stick to Facebook. Hip-hop songs work best on Twitter. Unclear genre, throw it on YouTube.

Even though you can sing whatever song you like, the way you do, and the types of metrics you use, will matter. Try recreating a Wulomei¹ masterpiece with Shatta Wale lyrics and you will have just as hard a time as trying to evaluate your awareness campaign using cost per click.

To make things more complicated, metrics will vary based on the type of campaign you run. For example, you can’t judge a video views campaign based on CTR since you aren’t optimizing for clicks. Understanding your campaign objective is the first step to evaluating performance.

Recently, at RADP, we run an extensive social campaign for a client introducing a new product to the market. The objective — get as many eyeballs as we can to see their content and ad placement in our Pulse TV content.

Of course, you’re thinking REACH (or total impressions depending on the medium) is the immediate key metric to keep an eye on for social media. And yeah, you are probably right, but this client was also looking for calculating brand recall. Have you ever wondered if your Facebook ads are really attracting attention? Sure, you may be seeing the impressions flow in, but is your audience seeing the ad or just scrolling past it? Just because an ad is on someone’s screen doesn’t mean that someone is taking note of said ad.

Enter, Estimated Ad Recall Lift. As with all things Facebook, this is “estimated” and it is not fully clear how this is calculated, but what I know is that engagement and how long an ad is on a user’s screen are two factors driving the formula.

Screenshot of actual image

Beyond reach and frequency, EARL is one of the most important metrics for brand awareness campaigns. EARL rate is the estimated percentage of people who when polled by Facebook, remember seeing your ads after two days.

Of course, EARL is not something to calculate for all campaigns. You must always consider your ultimate objective. If you’re seeking traffic or engagement, brand awareness may not be for you, thus EARL shouldn’t be a key metric. However, if you want to create familiarity with a new product or get the word out about your new local business with targeted ads, this objective could aid in that venture.

And that is exactly what this client needed!

And for other metrics that matter…

Brand Awareness Campaigns

Let’s take a look at brand awareness campaigns first. Brand awareness campaigns aim to get as many eyes on your content as possible with the goal of increasing brand equity. These campaigns are generally optimized for reach. Reach is the number of people who see your ad at least once. Don’t get this confused with Impressions, which is how many times your ad has been served. Ads can be served to the same people many times — we refer to this as frequency.

Frequency is a tricky metric. Technically it’s impressions divided by reach. Do the math and you get a number, like 3. So that’s a frequency of 3 over what period? A week? A month? The entire campaign? This is unclear, so try not to look at frequency as how many times a single person will see an ad because we don’t know what that actually is.

Instead, look at frequency as another lever to pull to affect your other metrics. Frequency is frequency, and that’s all. Is the CTR going down? Think about reducing the frequency of the ad to bring it back up. Facebook recommends a frequency of between 3 and 5. You can ignore that. As long as you keep an eye on it, you can really push that number. I’ve run multiple effective campaigns (soft-brag) where the frequency is in the double digits.

Another metric to consider is Video Completion. Facebook reports this as “ThruPlays” which is the number of times your video was played to completion, or for at least 15 seconds. This number is misleading for videos longer than 15 seconds. Instead, I try to calculate actual video completion by dividing 95% views by 3-second views. This shows the percent of people that finished watching your video, however long it is.

Last but not least, CPM. CPM, or cost per 1000 impressions tells you how much it costs to reach your intended audience. This number will vary wildly depending on the campaign objective, audience size, or other factors. Some objectives require low stakes actions, like video views. Other campaigns, like Event Response or Engagement campaigns, have more valuable asks. The bigger the ask, the higher the CPM.

A hyper-targeted audience will also be harder for Facebook to find and you’ll be charged more. You can often use a look-a-like audience to achieve lower CPMs. Remember, your targeted audience is only what Facebook can find. Help Facebook find more people, and you can reduce the CPM.

Traffic Campaigns

Now for traffic campaigns. You’ll still want to keep an eye on Reach and CPM, but the most important metric to consider is Cost Per Click. This is the amount spent divided by the number of clicks received. The lower the cost, the better. Monitoring traffic can be tricky on social, especially on Facebook, where all clicks on an ad are recorded in addition to outbound link clicks. Be sure you’re recording link clicks, not all clicks on your ad. Facebook’s “all clicks” metric is misleading as it includes clicks like video plays and image enlarges. Using all-clicks will make the campaigns look better, but it’s just lies. Even popular benchmarking companies use all-clicks in their reports, so always be on the lookout.

Click-through rate is another valuable metric. CTR can be found by dividing clicks by impressions. And again, you want the link-click through rate. Not the fake CTR (ALL). This is essentially the percentage of times people saw your ad and performed a link click. Among other things, this is a good measure of how persuasive your ad is at getting people to take immediate action. Remember to match your campaign to the KPI. Your awareness campaign SHOULD have a low CTR (I am looking at you Peter F.)

I strongly recommend connecting a pixel for conversion tracking during traffic campaigns. Pixels allow you to see which conversions on your website can be attributed to your social ads. With a pixel, you’ll also have access to Facebook’s “Landing Page Views” metric, which is even better than link clicks because it only registers the people that load your page.

It’s not enough to just record these metrics at the end of your campaign. You should be keeping up to date with your KPIs at least once a week. Consistent monitoring gives you the chance to optimize before your campaign heads south. If you aren’t monitoring these numbers, you’re missing out on opportunities for improvement.


¹ – Wulomei is a Ghanaian music group that was founded in 1973 by Nii Tei Ashitey with the encouragement of the dramatist and musician Saka Acquaye. > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wulomei

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