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The [Complete] 2018 Facebook Ads Manager Guide

Estimated Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Facebook Ads Manager has a lot to offer but can get confusing with the many available and updated features so we created this [awesome] Facebook Ads Manager Guide.

Take a look at their New Facebook Advertising Features track record for 2018. Facebook is practically making changes or adding features every month.

Because I know for myself without diligently taking some time to review new features, I can miss things.

Therefore I put together this Facebook Ads Manager guide where I intend to introduce you to every section of the Facebook Ads Manager. (The Facebook Business Manager will have to be the next post 🙂

This (up to date) guide introduces each section with a basic review, and when relevant it links out to specific integrations.

If you see anything I missed, please let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

Facebook Ads Manager Tutorial – Table Of Contents

Facebook Ads Manager Set Up


Create & Manage

Measure & Report



Facebook Ad Account Set Up

Let’s get started with the basics.

You can access or set up your Facebook Ad Account in two ways.

If at any point in the future you will be managing other Ad Accounts I highly recommend you set your account via the Business Manager.

However, I will show you both approaches.


Go to the drop-down next t the ? on the top right of your Facebook menu and select ‘Manage Ads’


Access Facebook Ads Manager


You will see a list of personal ad accounts or ad accounts you are added to as an individual.


FB Ads Manager Accounts


To access the Facebook Business Manager that you created or have been added to go to or in your personal Facebook home page go to the drop-down on the top right and select ‘Business Manager.’


Access Ads Manager Facebook


Note: If you do not have one created setting up a Facebook Business Manager is pretty simple and you can follow the steps here.

Now let’s take a look at each section in the Facebook Ads Manager.


Facebook Ads Manager - Plan

Audience Insights

Even with the removal of Third Party Data, which is set to currently phase out of the platform on August 15, 2018, there are still many ways to slice up your audience.

The latest update on ways to integrate third-party data into Facebook is that advertisers can continue to work with data providers via direct contracting.

But back to Facebook’s native data–Facebook’s granular audience building capabilities are one of the powerful features of reaching a very focused target at scale.

The question is what defines your target audience and what interest do they have?

Audience insights can answer some of these questions for us.

Let’s Get Started

To get started head over to Audience insights in the Facebook Ads Manager


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insights


Next click ‘Create New’ in the top Nav and choose an Audience.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insgihts


Either everyone on Facebook or just People following your page.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insights


To start, you can define your audience on the left.

The sidebar is where you want to set broader parameters such as country, connections, and interest.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insights


Furthermore, you can learn more about your target audience by navigating the Demographics, Page Likes, Location or Activity tabs.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insights


Based on this information you can create sub-segments and fine tune your target audiences.

Once you have refined your audience to your liking, you can save it directly into the  Audience Section of the Facebook Ads Manager.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audience Insights

Campaign Planner

This is a neat tool for media planning you can use to plan your budget against target audience segments.

But as you can imagine media buying is not that simple and straightforward so the results would only give me some direction to frame a narrative as a media planner.

The campaign planner is not available in all accounts. According to Facebook, the Campaign Planner is only available to some advertisers who have used the reach and frequency buying tool.

If Campaign Planner is not available, you can also create a campaign shell where you select the Reach and Frequency Buying Type to forecast reach and frequency based on budgets. Scroll down for more details.

Let’s Get Started

When you click Create Plan, you will get a pop up where you can define the basic plan settings.

Name your plan, assign a page and Ad Account, and define if you want to plan based on reach or budget.

I usually plan based on a budget since that is a fixed(ish) variable.

Note: Keep in mind that you can adjust these variables in the next step.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Now that we are in the Campaign Planner let’s refine our first version.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


For now we can call this Version 1 and leave our defined budget since this is our fixed variable.

Next, you will want to set your Schedule in the top bar. These dates define our campaign flight dates.

Now let’s go over the specific settings for this version:


Under objective, you can define what campaign objective is the focus. Media planning in this way is excellent for awareness campaigns since these are focused on reaching as much of our target audience within the given budget.

However, you can also make projections for other campaign objectives.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Frequency Cap

For awareness campaigns, I like to reach users a minimum of 3 times in a 7-day window. You can adjust this as needed.

Ad Account

Select your Ad Account


Select an existing or build a new audience.


Here you can define your ad schedule (read; dayparting). For example, if you are marketing in the B2B space, you might want these only to run M-F.

Format and Placements

Since users online activity and exposure vary across different placements you can define your ad and ad set placement setting to match your campaign ad and ad set settings.

Once you are satisfied with all of your settings you can duplicate this version to have a base to work off for version 2.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Let’s change the budget in version 2 to $30,000 so that we can compare reach across to budget levels.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Now that we have two versions defined (you can create up to 10 different versions) we can reference the Reach & Budget graph and set it to compare Version 1 and Version 2


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


The results look something like this:



You can also see Frequency Per Person, Spend Per Day, Placement Distribution and TV Viewership Habits Distribution in the charts on the right.


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner

Once you are satisfied, you can Reserve for Purchase or share the plan via email, link or download a CSV.

Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner

The Facebook Ads Manager campaign planner is a great tool for planning but what is the alternative when it is not available to you?

Test Campaign with the Reach and Frequency Buying Type

As mentioned, another alternative if Campaign Planner does not work for you is to create a campaign shell against the Reach and Frequency Buying Type. You can calculate the average reach and frequency by creating a small test campaign against the reach objective and then discard the draft once you have completed the forecasts.

Notice the two screenshots below. Off your budget, you can select between Reach and Frequency balance to determine how frequently you want users to be served ads across a chosen time frame. This can provide a more accurate projection and you can control the frequency caps.

Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Facebook Ads Manager - Campaign Planner


Creative Hub

Maybe the design team is using a tool like the Ad Mockup Parlor to mock up your ads, or they manually superimpose images into ad formats in the presentation deck.

But given the many different types of ads across multiple placements and the fact that Facebook is continually making changes to their platform can quickly make even the best tool limited.

So Facebook has come out with a better way (when it is properly working) and built the Creative Hub where a designer can develop mockups and share these across the team or directly with clients.

Create & Manage

Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage

Business Manager

The Business Manager takes you back to the business manager. 🙂

This is a centralized location to manage users, pages, Ad Accounts, permissions, product catalogs and more across all of your agencies or client accounts.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post that will specifically cover Business Manager in the way we break down this Facebook Ads Manager tutorial.

Facebook Ads Manager

This is our current location so keep reading 🙂

Page Posts

In this section, you can access your Scheduled, Published and Ad Posts.

Back when Facebook Ads were commonly referenced as ‘Dark Post’ I used this section to create and manage my ads.

Less common but still possible you can create an ad here and use the ID across all your ads if you want to aggregate social engagements on a single ad for social clout.

However, the value of measuring engagement as a persuasion to purchase signal is negligible. Facebook talks about this in Engagement on Facebook: When it matters

App Dashboard & App Ads Helper

In these two sections, you can access all of your connected apps and their statistics.

Automated Rules

As marketers managing multiple accounts, it is not possible to micromanage all performance all the time and this is where automated rules come in and save the day.

Automated rules are a great way to manage ads at scale and quickly automate actions based on critical performance points.

When you click Create Rule in the top right corner you will get this:


Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage


Let’s go through each setting and set up two automated rules. One for an e-commerce campaign that monitors our ROAS over a 30-day purchase window and that monitors campaign frequency.

Let’s Get Started

First, we need to define What to apply the rule to:


Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage


In this case, I want to apply the rule to all ad sets since that is also where I have allocated my budgets.

Next, we need to define what actions to take. In this case, I want to scale my ad set the daily budget based on a ROAS target field.


Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage


Meaning that if I can hit the target ROAS of 3 (read 300%) I am willing to increase my ad set budget.

To control the budget, we will set a minimum and maximum budget range.

We will leave the action Frequency as default. The rule will only take action once every 12 hours, and we will set the condition to filter down to run this rule on desired campaigns only.

I like to apply this data to lifetime campaign performance (so that Facebook has more data to work with) and use the account attribution window.


Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage

Next, we will want to define the schedule for how often to run the rule and notification preferences.

Give the rule a name and click create.

Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage


Another instance where I find rules to be super helpful is to monitor campaign frequency.

If the frequency gets out of control people (including clients), get overexposed and start to question the credibility of campaign delivery.

To create this rule apply it to all active campaigns

Set the action to send notification only.

The reason I do this is that I do not want to turn off campaigns as soon as this rule hits but rather make adjustments such as increasing audience size or remove adding exclusions to improve frequency.


Facebook Ads Manager - Create & Manage

Measure & Report

Facebook Ads Manager - Measure & Report

Ads Reporting

Ad Reporting is one central location where you can access Standard (Pre-Created Facebook reports) or Saved Reports.

If you like to see your data in a specific way you can create custom reports to save them for quick access, export them to excel or schedule them in an email on a daily, weekly or monthly email.

Facebook makes a ton of data available for super granular breakdowns and if you have a proper Facebook Pixel install with events tracked you can follow your data all the way through to on-site or in-app key actions.

Test and Learn

Test and Learn is a simple set up that lets you answer what campaigns are generating the most efficient conversions or what ads across an account are the most effective in generating conversions.

As long as you have the Facebook pixel in place and are actively tracking events, you can add up to 10 events for each test.

This test and learn approach is a great way to leverage the Facebook Algorithm and understand what campaign objectives or target buckets [depending on how you segment your campaigns] are producing some the best results.


Facebook Ads Manager - Test & Learn


Facebook Analytics is a people based reporting platform that can identify users as long as they are logged into Facebook regardless of traffic source.

You would think that since the Analytics Platform is buried within the Facebook Ads Manager it will only track Facebook specific performance but in actuality, there is a lot more that can be done.

The primary difference between Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics is that it is not cookie dependant and you can get insights into user behavior across devices.

Many valuable features within their analytics platform are worth exploring such as automated insights, funnel and overlap reports.

To get started you can reference Three [Easy To Use] Facebook Analytics Reports

Events Manager

The events manager lets you track events across three data sources as long as you have the pixel adequately implemented.


You can install the Facebook Pixel on your app or website, and it tracks all user activity, regardless of source, across your paid campaigns providing valuable people based analytics and insights.

In addition to the installation of the Facebook Pixel, you can build static and dynamic retargeting lists and custom audiences based off of site visitor behavior.

Don’t forget that you can also add standard and or custom events as well as e-commerce conversion tracking so that you can get detailed direct and attribution performance insights.


Facebook Ads Manager - Pixel


The set up is relatively simple but does involve a series of steps. I cover the full process to set up the Facebook Pixel using the Google Tag Manager in my blog post Set Up Your Facebook Pixel Using Google Tag Manager

Offline Events

Offline events let you track events that happen IRL as opposed to online. For example, if a user makes an in-store purchase.

You can then upload your offline conversion data, and Facebook will match back [hashed] user data to see what ads assisted in driving the conversion.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events


In the Events Manager select Add Data Sources and click Offline Event Set.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events


Give it a name and optional description then click create.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events


Next Assign Ad Accounts.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events


Then assign people.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events


You can then download an example file to prepare your offline data for upload.


Facebook Ads Manager - Offline Events

App Events

These events allow you to measure specific actions users take within your app similar to events tracked on a website. App Events enable you to get a better understanding of how users navigate your app towards a given objective.


Facebook Ads Manager - App Events

Custom Conversions

Here you can create any custom conversion off of a combination of URL Traffic events, Standard events or custom events.

You can then leverage custom conversions in a campaign with a conversion objective.

Custom Conversions allow you to leverage the Facebook algorithm for any conversion type.

Note: Although you can by default optimize towards a standard event on the ad set level for objective conversion campaigns you need to create a custom conversion off of a custom event for it to become available in the ad set.


Facebook Ads Manager - Custom Conversions

Partner Integrations

Partner Integrations provides a list of Facebook approved partners you can access for third-party integrations to assist in capturing, measuring and improving results.


Facebook Ads Manager - Assets


I spend quite a bit of time here. The Audience Section is where I can build and manage all of my audiences.

There are three primary audience types.

Custom Audiences

Facebook provides the ability to build custom audiences off of users that have interacted with your business in many ways.

You can upload a customer files like emails (this data will be hashed on upload), build a list of users based off website traffic, or App, Offline or Engagements.

Facebook Ads Manager - Audiences


Engagements have its own set of available options where you can bucket people based off having watched some or all of a video to people that have taken part of a specific event.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audiences


Hence these are powerful ways to not only re-engage users but also to build seed audiences for lookalike targets.


As the name implies you can build lookalike audiences off of your source data. Your source data consists of custom conversions or Page data.

Audience sizes range from 1% – 10% with 1% being the closest match to your source data.

This is great for qualified audience expansion. Traditionally I work with the 2% range but if you want to test building out segments ranging from 1% – 10% is a great way to see how much you can maximize your qualified reach.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audiences


Saved Audiences

These are built similarly to how we created an audience using Audience Insights above.

You can define layers that will make up the audience segment including custom conversion, page connection, location, gender, age, language, and interests.


Facebook Ads Manager - Audiences


Image is a centralized location of all images uploaded to the Facebook Ads Manager over time.

Hence, if you are building out multiple ads and want to skip individual uploads for each image, you can upload them here in bulk although you will still need to assign them to each ad.


Product catalogs consist of your product feed if you are running an e-commerce site.

You can search products, manage your feed data sources, create product sets, review purchase events and edit catalog settings.


Facebook Ads Manager - Product Catalog

Business Locations

If you have multiple brick and mortar locations, you can manage these here. Having a list of business locations is excellent when you want to customize ads by location at scale.

As a result, you can assign your Main Page, Add your locations and run specific location-based ads.


Facebook Ads Manager - Business Location

Block Lists

Block list will take you to the business manager.

Controlling placements this way is an excellent feature for pre-campaign transparency.

You can download a CSV file with a full list of placements to create your custom block list to then apply across multiple ad accounts.


Facebook Ads Manager - Placement Control


Video is the same as the Image Asset Library just for videos and provides a central location for all video upload for the Ad Account.


Facebook Ads Manager - Settings

Settings [Facebook Ads Manager]

The settings section covers general ad account setting within the Facebook Ads Manager.

Ad Accounts


Payment Settings


Most of these are pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, but I would like to call out the attribution setting.


Facebook Ads Manager - Settings


Attribution Setting

Facebook allows you to define the attribution settings for each Ad Account.

In Facebook’s words:

“The attribution window determines the actions (clicks or views) to be used for attributing results to ads and the lookback period after those actions occur during which ad results are counted. Facebooks default attribution window is 28 days after people click and 1 day after people view your ad.”

Consequently, you can set the click or view window to 1, 7 or 28 days. The default is 28-day post click and 1-day post view.


Facebook Ads Manager - Settings


Generally speaking, I work with the default attribution settings, but this can vary based on your business needs. If you find that sales happen in a smaller purchase window, you can set it to 7 days post-click.

However, if you are working with branding and awareness campaigns reaching top funnel users, you might want to set the post view to 28 days.

Just remember that this will get applied to the Facebook Ads Manager Account.

Business Settings, Billing & Invoices [Business Manager]

Business settings take you to your Facebook Business Manager to manage general business settings across accounts.

You can view and update your billing information and invoices to date, but again you will be taken to the business manager to address these.


Facebook now lets you individually assign Finance Analyst and Finance Editors roles to access billing and manage invoices.


Facebook Ads Manager - Settings


Ultimately running Facebook ads can be a daunting task.

However, once you get familiar with the tools we covered in this Facebook Ads Manager tutorial, you can get excited about the possibilities.

Given these points, did I cover everything in this Facebook Ads Manager guide or is there a feature you find invaluable that I missed?

Let me know in the comments below.

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