Facebook Updates Its Ad Manager Reports With More Customizable, Real-Time Data

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Facebook’s effort to simplify its ad products continues: Today it’s announcing an update to Ad Manager Reports, a product whose name pretty much explains what it does — helps advertisers track and manage their campaigns on Facebook.

The goal of the changes, according to Product Manager David Baser, is to give advertisers tools that are “simpler, easier-to-use, and more flexible.” A lot of that seems to involve giving those advertisers more control over the data that they receive.

Specifically, Baser said Facebook is now making it easier for advertisers to see reach data for an ad, a campaign, or an entire account, for any date range. Previously, you could only look at reach for an ad or a campaign, and only on fixed schedules designated by Facebook, like a week or a day. Reach is particularly important, Bazer said, because that tends to drive most of the other results, such as in-store purchases, that advertisers are hoping for. And controlling the scheduling is important because it allows those advertisers to immediately understand the success of specific efforts (say a four-day campaign to drive purchases over the weekend).

In addition, Baser said Facebook is “introducing cost-per-action metrics everywhere throughout our reports,” so that advertisers no longer have to look at different reports (or combine those reports in Excel) to understand what they’re paying to achieve their desired goals. It’s also allowing advertisers to see the performance of an ad, campaign or account based on age, gender, country or placement within Facebook. And it’s updating those results in real-time.

When I pointed out that adding more data to the reports might not meet everyone’s definition of “simpler,” Baser acknowledged that there can be tension between the goals of flexibility and simplicity. But in this case, he said Facebook managed to do both.

“Even though there are more metrics now, accessing them is simpler and the presentation is simpler,” he said. “This is a case where simplicity overrides the number of things [presented to advertisers].”

Altogether, Facebook says these changes should give advertisers an easier experience, as outlined in a company blog post:

Marketers no longer have to export multiple reports to get the data they want. With these new reports, they can choose the Facebook ad metrics they want to include in a report; break out the data how they want it; drag and drop to organize columns; and save, export, and schedule their reports for delivery.

Facebook also quotes Priceline.com, which has been testing the new interface. Priceline’s Kristen Jones said that the changes mean the company has to pull 50 percent fewer reports and spend less time looking at spreadsheets.

Last week Facebook announced a redesign of its Page Insights tool, so I was also curious about the extent to which these different efforts are being coordinated. Baser said there’s actually a product manager and a team working to ensure “we have an overall vision for simplification” — though he added that the updates will be staggered across different products: “They won’t come as one big change.”