Facebook Advertising is a lucrative industry, worth billions of pounds per year and as a result a number of digital marketing agencies have leveraged this opportunity by offering Facebook Ads Management.

If you don’t have a lot of experience with Ads then you may struggle to identify whether the organisation you have instructed to run your ads has the necessary knowledge and experience to deliver a profitable campaign for your business. However there are a number of ‘warning signs’ that can indicate that a person does not really know what they are doing and that you might be paying for bad Facebook Ads management.

Bad Facebook Ads Management – how can I tell?

Firstly, there are a few types of Bad Facebook Ads Management…

The Del Boys

These guys have usually seen how much professional ads buyers earn and want a piece of the cake too. They’ve paid for a course by a ‘Guru’ and now they’re an expert. Just like that! They know a few buzz words, they’ll try to impress you with throwing some technical jargon into the conversation.

How do I know if I’m dealing with a Del Boy? Ask some simple questions – how long have you been running ads? Who are your clients? Do you have any professional digital marketing qualifications (at this point they will probably tell you that they were trained by [insert Guru’s name])

The Pivoters

These guys have usually come from a Social Media page management or Google Ads background, and thought adding another string to their bow would increase their earning potential. This can sometimes be a full-service digital agency. Sometimes they build websites as their primary business service. They have a reasonable level of experience in all-round digital marketing, but they’re not experts in Facebook Ads. They can put a simple campaign together to a reasonable standard (usually lead gen) but do not understand the mechanics of the Facebook machine. They’re probably okay at running low spend local ads.

How do I know I’m dealing with a Pivoter? Their website will not highlight Facebook Advertising as being their specialism. They may talk a lot of about running Lead Generation ads (which are much simpler and easier to run than E-commerce, with instant results) They will talk a lot about metrics such as reach “you can reach X amount of people” or sell it as “You can get leads for £X each”.

The Have-A-Go Heroes

The ‘have-a-go-hero’ is one that troubles us the most – we have seen brand new marketing graduates who have never ran an ad campaign in their lives, packaging up “Facebook Ads Bundles” such as “10 Boosted Posts for £300”. Or they are sometimes social media freelancers (or even Virtual PA’s!) who have boosted a few posts, and decided to offer it as an upsell. They mean well, but don’t usually have a clue what they are doing.

How do I know if I’m dealing with a Have-a-go-hero? As they do not have any experience in the mechanics of Facebook then a simple questions like “What type of campaign objective do you think would be best?” or “What are your initial thoughts on funnel ideas?” will produce a blank expression.

What are the warning signs of Bad Ads Management?

We’ve covered how to identify the types of people who may not be so great at delivering results, but if it’s too late and you’ve already instructed someone to manage your campaigns – what now? Could your campaigns be doing better?

Here are some common occurrences we see that should give you a tip-off that the person handling your ads may not have the appropriate level of knowledge and experience:

  1. You do not pay for the ads yourself – they tell you how much they’ve spent on ads and add it to your invoice. This should trigger as a BIG warning sign that something is not right. Any reputable ads buyer will be using your own Ad Account, with the ads billed directly to you by Facebook. Sadly, this tactic usually has deliberately unethical motives – to take ownership of your account data so if you end your contract you will lose your data, to rack up points on an AMEX card for themselves to use on flights etc, or to falsify the ad spend and overcharge you.
  2. They have asked you for passwords – Facebook Ads are managed using Facebook’s integrated Business Manager platform, where they can request access to your assets either as a Partner (best practice) or by requesting access to your Page/Ad Account. If they are asking for your Facebook password – run! (the same applies for Social Media Management, nobody should be asking for your password, or telling you that you need to add them as a friend to manage your pages)
  3. They are running ads without a Pixel installed on your website – if you do not have a correct and working Pixel on your website.
  4. Your Ad Account is in dollars or another currency that isn’t your own – This is a school boy error, a mistake in the Ad Account set up that cannot be changed once set. This means you are paying more for your ads than is necessary because of the poor exchange you will be getting as the dollars is converting to pounds.
  5. They will not give you access to your ad account – it is very easy to create a smoke screen with ‘fake results’ with Facebook Ads if the client does not have access to the ad account from which the ads are run. Gil David of RunDMG (a reputable Ads Buyer and Ads agency owner) recently reported that he had discovered an agency was running ads for over 100 different businesses from one single ad account! One business = one ad account. If other client’s data is all mixed up amongst your own, it is complete disaster.
  6. They have no strategy – your ads planner / buyer should have a clear strategy for different phases of the buying journey (cold traffic, warm traffic, hot traffic) If the ads are being created ad hoc, with no real plan, they will ultimately fail.
  7. They have not asked the right questions – one of the first questions a reputable buyer will ask you, is for details about your product, stock levels, the conversion rate of your website and margins. They need to accurately assess whether the campaigns are going to deliver a profitable return for you. If you sell £10 books, which cost you £6 to produce – it is highly unlikely that ads are going to generate a profit for you from a single book sale. Sometimes brands run ‘loss making’ ads because they have a strategy for Lifetime Value (LTV) for example, gym wear and fashion brands where there is a plan in situ that uses email, SMS marketing and other strategies to keep that customer returning and spending more each time. If you haven’t been asked “What can you afford to pay to acquire each sale?” then alarm bells should be ringing.
  8. They do not have access to Google Analytics – an ads buyer needs to have access to GA (or an alternative system) to check traffic volumes on specific pages before creating audiences, to monitor bounce rates, conversion rates and general on-site behaviour. If they do not have this, they cannot possibly be doing a good job without this data to hand.
  9. They have not discussed your conversion rate – firing more traffic at a poorly converting website or landing page is not an effective strategy. The first problem to solve is why your conversion rates are poor. If your website conversion rate is typically 0.5% you need to spend TWICE as much on ads to generate the same result, than if your conversion rate was 1%, and four times as much as you would if it converted at 2%. By focusing on improving your conversion rate before increasing traffic you are reducing your CPA (cost per acquisition) and increasing your profits.
  10. They blame your poor assets for their poor performance – if you are hearing “the ads aren’t working because the images are rubbish” or “you need a video created and that’s why they aren’t doing well” – they should have known what assets were at their disposal prior to engaging the client and if they were not suitable, addressed this issue before running any ads.

This is by no means an exhaustive list – but some of the most common issues we see as Facebook Advertising specialists.

As a ‘best practice’ a Facebook Ads marketer should hold a Facebook Blueprint Certified credential – this is a tough two hour exam costing £120 and sat under strict proctored exam conditions, which must be re-sat annually to maintain certification. While it does not mean that this person is ‘good’ at marketing – it does show a degree of proven competence in understanding the mechanics and systems involved in ads planning and buying.

There is no real rationale for not having this certificate if you’re a professional ads planning/buyer, other than because someone knows they cannot pass it.

You can find Nikki’s Blueprint Badge here