If you have ever run a Facebook or Instagram ad, chances are you’ve come across the term “relevance score.” According to Facebook, “Your relevance score estimates how well your ad is resonating with the people you want to reach. The higher your ad's relevance score, the better it's considered to be performing.”
This takes into account your ad’s objective, your targeting, your creative and copy choices, AND the destination you’re sending users to. Relevance scores range from 1 to 10. An ad having a relevance score of 1 is a poor-performing ad and an ad with a relevance score of 10 is an ad performing the BEST it possibly can.
Before we break down the details about ad relevance scores, I’d like to mention this is NOT always the best way to measure an ad’s success, nor does a simple number between 1 and 10 give you any information on how to improve your ad’s performance. Your ad’s relevance score should simply act as a starting point for further analysis, such as a deeper dive into metrics like cost-per-lead, return-on-ad-spend (ROAS), and other key performance indicators.
Having said that, if you work with clients, you KNOW this metric matters. It’s a number that’s easy for clients to see when they are poking around in their reporting, and Facebook makes it just approachable enough for them to understand the basics. Therefore, it’s important to be able to explain the relevance score of your ads to your clients.
Even more importantly, you NEED to have a specific plan to share with your clients (or just to implement for your own business!) if you launch an ad that comes back with a low relevance score.
To get started, I will answer some of the most common questions I get about relevance scores.
Where can I access my ad’s relevance score?
You can access this number at the ad-level reporting. It should be pre-selected, but you can go into “customize columns” and add it if you don’t see it presented. If you have a campaign running with 3 ad-sets, and 3 ads being split-tested per ad-set, you will have 9 different relevance scores to analyze.
Why is my relevance score blank?
An ad isn’t assigned a relevance score by Facebook until the ad has reached 500 impressions, simply for a lack of data. They can’t determine with any confidence how well the ad is performing before that time.
Can an ad’s relevance score change?
Yes, this metric is constantly changing, which we will discuss in more detail below. Things like an ad’s budget, frequency, and cost-per-click-- or whichever event you’ve optimized for, can all cause a score to change. Of course, if you make targeting changes or creative changes while an ad is running, this may also cause the score to fluctuate.
What is considered a “good” relevance score?
In our agency, if an ad has a relevance score of under 7 we know we likely have some changes to make in order to better the ad’s performance. The exception to this rule is if the ad is performing very well in a more important metric.
For example, it’s common for dynamic product ads-- ads that are retargeting website viewers with specific items they viewed or added to their carts, to have lower-than-average relevance scores because the frequency is often high.
We recently ran a dynamic product ad to a small audience of 1,500 past website visitors. The ad was earning an impressive return-on-ad-spend of 20, meaning for every $1 spent on the ad, $20 in purchases were made directly from the ad. But, because the frequency of the ad was so high at 13 (meaning the ad was shown to each audience member an average of 13 times), the relevance score for this ad was only a 5. But, because the ROAS was so high and the ad was so profitable, we felt confident telling our client that the ad was doing well and we could give them an exact reason for the low score.
Even though clients LOVE a great relevance score, they will value a great profit even MORE.
Which Factors Weigh Heaviest into your Relevance Score?
If you launch an ad and the relevance score is low, you’re going to wonder where you should start making improvements, and which improvements will have the greatest impact.
In my experience, the MOST impactful things that affect this score (in order of importance) are:
Targeting. Your ad-set level choices will likely have the most impact on your score, with a few caveats. If you launch an ad and the relevance score is less than 5, your targeting likely needs work, so start there.
Objective. If you choose the wrong objective for your ad, it’s likely not reaching the right people. For example, if you are running a conversions-ad optimized for purchases to a cold audience without testing which creative choices, copy phrases, or offers that resonate with your audience, there’s a good chance the relevance scores of your ads will be low. Conversions ads often experience high CPM (the cost per 1,000 impressions) rates and therefore choosing that objective before refining other parts of your ad is a recipe for a low relevance score for sure.
If you ARE targeting a cold audience and testing different versions of your creative, the ad’s relevance score is a great place to start when you make decisions about which ads to turn off, and which ads to declare “winners.”
Copy/ creative. There is a big caveat here. This is only the 3rd most important IF you put out some really strong copy and creative to begin with, and you ran your ad through the text overlay checker. If you have great targeting and your objective is spot-on but you have no idea what a high-converting headline looks like, you may need to check out some examples of high-converting ads and get some copywriting ideas first. If you’re copy-confident, then this is likely 3rd most important on your list. Simple things like changing your CTA (or removing the CTA button!) can have an impact at the ad-level and increase your relevance score and boost your ad’s performance.
Landing page. While this does factor into relevance score, I find it has the least impact, unless you are optimizing for conversions. Remember, your Facebook ad sells the click and your landing page sells the offer. Even if you’re getting really inexpensive clicks on your ad (signs your ad-strategy is good!) but no one is opting-in because you haven’t optimized your landing page, your relevance score will be low because your conversion rate will be low. So, work on your landing page game if you are getting lots of traffic but it isn’t converting!
Of course, if you aren’t sending users to an off-Facebook landing page, you can ignore this one!
How can I get a “perfect 10” relevance score?
Here is where we really get into the details. If you REALLY want to get a relevance score of 10, here’s how.
First, it’s important to mention it is much easier to get a high relevance score when your user expectations are low. For example, if you are optimizing your ad for video views and your “success event” is when users watch 3 seconds of this video, that’s not asking too much.
Once you ask users to opt into something, purchase something, or take a “deeper” action (like purchasing a high-end product), these high relevance scores are more difficult to achieve. Remember, your relevance score takes your objective heavily into account.
If you are optimizing for video views and people are watching your video, you’ll get a great relevance score.
If you’re optimizing for engagement and people are linking and sharing your content, you’ll get a great relevance score.
If you’re optimizing for conversions/ purchases and your cost-per-purchase is low, you’ll get a great relevance score.
If you’re optimizing for traffic and your cost per click is $0.10, you’ll get a great relevance score.
QUICK TIP 1: Don’t expect an ad that’s optimized for engagement and has a relevance score of 10 to get you any purchases, because that’s not what you chose as your objective. (But that’s a topic for another post!)
It is also more difficult to achieve a high relevance score if you are targeting a cold audience as opposed to a warm audience. For example, if you are targeting people who have watched 75% of one of your videos before (a WARM audience), they’re much more likely to find your next video relevant than someone who has never heard of you, and your score for that ad will likely be high.
Someone that has added an item to their cart but hasn’t purchased is much more likely to purchase that item if they’re reminded with a dynamic product ad.
So if you want a HIGH relevance score, target your warm audience. Whether it’s people who are on your email list, people that have visited your website (great if you’re running a traffic ad), or people that have engaged with your previous Facebook posts (great if you’re running an engagement ad). That’s not saying to never target cold audiences, or that you CAN’T get a high relevance score while running an ad to a cold-audience, but it is definitely more likely to get high scores from people who have already expressed through an explicit action that they know, like, and trust your content.
QUICK TIP 2: If you have a warm audience of people that have read your past blogs, create a traffic objective campaign leading to that blog post. Don’t include any CTA button on the ad. This will make it look organic and make people more likely to click.
QUICK TIP 3: If you have a really engaged Facebook following, create a highly engaging post or meme and ask people to comment on it or tag a friend. Then, run an engagement objective ad using that post. Target people who have interacted with your Facebook posts in the last 60-90 days, and you’re on your way to an easy perfect 10.
With these tips and the right Facebook ads strategy, you too can get a perfect-10 relevance score, even with cold audiences.
For the full training on how to improve your ad’s relevance score and examples of live campaigns, watch a Facebook ads-expert unpack their exact campaign strategies over in Digital Brand Envy.
See you there!