Social Media

Facebook Ad Impressions: Definitions, Benchmarks, and Ways to Improve

Reach and impressions are two of the most underrated Facebook Ads metrics. In this guide, experts share how they use them to improve their campaigns.

Elise Dopson Elise Dopson on June 17, 2020 (last modified on June 16, 2020) • 17 minute read

Your Facebook Ads dashboard has a ton of data for you to dive into.

It shows you how many people visited your site from the advert, how many people commented, and even the purchase value of people who converted as a result of your campaign.

But whilst they’re all great metrics to report on, you might be missing a trick by neglecting reach and impressions.

In this guide, we’ll share the following:

Ready? Let’s get to it.

What is reach?

The reach of your Facebook ad is the number of individual people that your Facebook Ad reached.

For example: If Facebook’s algorithm displayed your ad in 100 people’s News Feed, your overall reach would be 100. That’s how many individual people saw it.

Gauge your (un)paid video post with this free template.

What are impressions?

Impressions are similar to reach in the fact that it helps you understand how many people saw your content.

However, the number of impressions show how many times your ad was shown–regardless of how many people’s News Feeds it was shown in.

“One person can have multiple impressions of the same content,” Osama Khabab of MotionCue Studios explains. That means you might have 100 people as your reach. But if each one saw the ad twice, your impression count would be 200.

How do you track impressions and reach in Facebook Ads?

It’s easy to see both of these metrics inside your Facebook Ads account.

Simply head to your Ads Manager. Hit the Columns tab, and select Performance. You’ll see the overall number of reach and impressions for the entire campaign:

how to see reach and impressions in facebook ads

You can break this down by ad set and ad, too.

Make sure the same Performance column is selected, then click through to each ad set and individual ad:

how to see reach and impressions in facebook ads manager

How to track and visualize impressions and reach from Facebook Ads in Databox

Feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data inside your Facebook Ads account?

Sure, it’s great that you have access to so many advertising metrics. But it’s not easy to share results with your team–especially if they don’t have access to the account, itself.

Solve that problem by using one of our Facebook Ads dashboards. It pulls data from your Facebook Ads account and shares the most important metrics all on one screen.

facebook ads dashboards

You’ll also be able to track the following related metrics inside Databox:

  • Reach and Impressions by Campaign
  • Reach and Impressions by Ad Set
  • Reach and Impressions by Ad
  • Reach by Age
  • Reach by Gender

Tracking each of these reach and impression-related Facebook Ads metrics means you can drill deeper into performance, and make better data-led decisions.

For example, you might have one ad set that’s generating the bulk of your reach. Does it make sense to continue pouring money into another ad set that doesn’t perform as well? Or should you move that budget into your best-performing ad set?

You won’t know until you see the reach and impression breakdown.

10 Ways For Increasing Facebook Ad Impressions and Reach

We know what reach and impressions are, and how to find them. But what happens when you sign in to your account and see that both metrics are actually really poor?

Increasing both your advertising reach and impressions is a great way to see whether your campaigns are being shown to enough people.

(That’s often the goal; it gives you more chance of pushing people to the purchase line if your net is cast wider.)

So, we asked 29 Facebook Ads experts to share how they increase reach and impressions for their campaigns.

They gave a bunch of valuable tips, including:

  1. Use the reach campaign objective
  2. Show your personality with creatives
  3. Use video to your advantage
  4. Niche your audience targeting
  5. Build a lookalike audience
  6. Split-test your Facebook Ads
  7. Let Facebook help you
  8. Focus on building engagement
  9. Copy the same post ID for new ad sets
  10. Set a frequency limit to avoid ad fatigue

1. Use the reach campaign objective

Before you can create any new Facebook Ads campaign, you’ll need to choose a campaign objective. This is the overarching goal of your entire strategy: the results you want to get from the investment.

“Facebook ads has a campaign objective exclusively to maximize Reach,” writes Ram Pravin CV of iOPEX Technologies.

“While setting the campaign, we need to choose the Reach objective. This helps Facebook to deliver the ad to maximum unique users.”

reach campaigns in facebook ads

In fact, Ditly‘s Stuart Dunbabin says: “To increase reach with Facebook ads, create a separate and independent ‘rate-limited reach campaign’. This is where you build a reach campaign, with a small budget and you limit the impressions per person per set number of days.”

“For example, 1 impression every 30 days. Then choose to deliver it to a super broad audience, ideally just the gender, age bracket and location of your target market – nothing more. Then release the campaign, you’ll reach a vast number of people but this activity is unlikely to drive direct conversions.”

“Simply use it to top up your ad funnel with fresh prospects by re-targeting those who engaged with your ads or clicked through to the site,” Dunbabin adds.

2. Show your brand personality with your ad creatives

“You can make people like your ad and interact with it to show your brand personality,” says Oliver Andrews of OA Design Services. “Because company content is less likely to appear on news channels, making people like your page and interact with your posts will help increase your reach.”

To do this, Andrews recommends to “replace the typical stock photo with a striking, real image and you will stand out from advertisers while getting more traffic out of 1,000 impressions.”

It’s why Melanie Beran of Darn Good Digital Marketing says: “Ad images should have less than 20% writing. Higher than that will dramatically increase your CPM or cost for 1000 impressions. Drop your text and drop your costs, which will improve your impressions for the same amount of money.”

Plus, the team at Lavari Jewelers also say: “Ad creatives play a vital role in drawing the attention of your audience. If you have a lousy and boing creative, they will likely scroll past it.”

“When the algorithm of Facebook picks this up, it categorizes your ad as relevant to your audience, which lowers your future impressions. However, if you have an ad creative that gets their attention and manages to pique their interest, they are more likely to engage with your post.”

“When that happens, Facebook’s algorithm will see your ad as relevant to your chosen audience and is more likely to show it to others. Thus, it increases your impressions.”

3. Use video to your advantage

Speaking of compelling creatives, “one of the most effective ways to increase impressions for Facebook Ads is to include the use of video within your ads,” according to Hosting Data‘s Alex Williams.

“Video is an incredible marketing tool, especially for Facebook and other social media channels, and should be central to your entire marketing strategy.”

Williams explains: “Your videos don’t need to be all-singing, all-dancing but they should hook the viewer in quickly and provide relevant and valuable content to ensure they stick around. Facebook users are looking for authentic video content that they can relate to, so it’s important to keep this in mind when creating your videos for Facebook ads.”

Plus, Darrin Giglio of North American Investigations adds: “Video ads are more expensive to produce than their other ad counterparts. That reason alone makes video ads a marketing venture with less competition.”

“Aside from lesser competition, video ads are more likely to trigger a response in your audience. Because of that, it increases your ad’s relevancy score, which Facebook uses as a basis to show it more often to your audience—the result is more impressions at the same cost.”

“The 2nd benefit of video ads is the fact that you can remarket to people that have watched your videos whether that be 3 seconds or over 50%,” 408 Media‘s Darren Graham also reports. “A vital tool in building your audience.”

Plus, Nada Pupovac of No Bounds Digital says: “In my own experience, in campaigns for the same client and the same targeted audience, I noticed that campaigns with video ads had better reach compared to the image ads.”

“Also, the image ads didn’t perform with the same success. Those with clearly shown human faces achieved better reach than others.”

Related: Facebook Video Ads: 26 Practices For Driving Conversions

4. Niche your audience targeting

Defining the audience for your Facebook campaigns is often the trickiest part. You’ve got millions of people you’re able to target–but you need to find the right targeting settings to reach your ideal audience.

Your approach to this depends on whether you’re aiming for a boost in reach (more people) or impressions (multiple times to the same group):

Reach: Wider targeting

If your goal is to boost reach, your targeting strategy should be wider. That way, you cast a wider net for the people who are eligible to see your campaign–and therefore, boost your reach.

Chris Chalk explains that at Jungle Straws “do this by adding additional interests, demographics, and ages that are relevant to our target audience within the ad set. “

“By trying to build an audience which will respond or interact with our product means that we can increase impressions and narrow down accordingly,” Chalk adds.

WikiLawn‘s Dan Bailey also says: “I usually tweak my targeting until I get between 100k – 300k potential reach. I’ve found this is the sweet spot for getting relevant views without having to wait weeks to see if your ad performs.”

facebook ads targeting for reach

Impressions: Smaller targeting

A different thing happens when we’re trying to boost impressions. (Remember: this isn’t targeting new people; it’s could be targeting the same person multiple times.)

“Generally speaking, the more someone sees an ad, the more this can drive up the cost of your ad–because the ad is constantly being shown to the same person,” Holly Maguire of Simple Lawn Solutions explains. “Each time this is counted as an impression.”

“Your best bet is to create targeted, niche ads. Ads that address a specific problem for people that can easily be targeted through audiences on Facebook. Keep your audience small so that the ads will be more likely to be shown to people multiple times.”

Seriously Smoked‘s Jeremy Owens agrees: “The more specific you are, the better your chances of increasing your impressions.”

“The best thing about digital marketing is that you can target your audience according to set categories. In doing so, it increases the likelihood that your ad gets shown to the most relevant audience available. Otherwise, you waste money by showing your ads to people who you are less likely to convert.”

“Remember that the population that sees your ad heavily influences the result of your marketing campaign,” Owens explains. “Because of that, you must heavily utilize Facebook targeting by being super detailed to narrow down the demographics and interests of your chosen audience.”

Summarizing, Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles says: “Try to find the ideal equilibrium in your audience targeting.”

“You want it wide enough to get in front of a large enough audience set so you don’t miss out on potential sales and leads. All whilst ensuring it’s not so wide as to be irrelevant to a reasonable percentage of that audience.”

“At the same time, don’t go so narrow in your targeting that you miss out on a large chunk of potential customers. It’s a fine balancing act,” Dodds says.

5. Build a lookalike audience

“One of the best ways to increase impressions for your Facebook Ads is using a lookalike audience and adjusting the audience size,” according to John Keehler of RUNNER Agency.

“Lookalike targeting is perhaps the most effective targeting on Facebook. Many marketers are missing out because they use only the default 1% lookalike audience size, which are those that most closely match your target. However, you can adjust this audience size up to 10%.”

“For many brands, you can increase your audience size up to 5% and see a huge increase in impressions while still staying true to your targeting.”

lookalike audience in facebook ads

That’s why Keehler adds: “I recommend breaking out separate campaigns for 1%, 2%, 3%, and so on, to understand how far you can expand.”

Jordan Peagler says that at MKP Law Group, “we like to use a mirrored version of a successful and existing, already reached user profile.”

“We can create a lookalike audience to target with new ads. That means we can target a new audience that matches the criteria of an existing audience that has proved their interest in our services.”

6. Split-test your ads

James Miller of Minuteman Review advises to “create multiple ads to split-test with a minimal budget for a start. Then, spend more money on ones that show promising results.”

“Remember that not all ads are created equal—some guarantee success while some flop big time. Facebook marketers that split-test before going all out reduces their risk of failing because they let ads compete with each other.

“The winner of their split-testing is most likely to trigger impressions with the audiences. When businesses fail to do so, they increase the risk of not getting any impressions by sending out ads that their audience won’t likely bother to engage,” Miller adds.

The best part? You don’t have to confuse yourself by creating tons of different campaigns during your split tests. Facebook can help you do this with their A/B testing feature.

Related: How to Run Effective A/B Tests According to 28 Marketing Experts

7. Let Facebook help you with automatic placements

“It may seem like a silly recommendation at first but from my experience, Facebook knows its user base best,” writes Matthew Rogers of Mango Matter.

“After all, the more success you have with running your ads the more likely you will return and put more money through their platform. Therefore, heed their advice.”

Rogers explains: “That is, minimize text on the creative (keep it within 20-35% of the entire pixel surface area) and go BROAD with your targeting. Let Facebook find the right people to serve it and don’t do anything that will restrict the ad being shown on the feed.”

That’s why StableWP‘s Djordje Milicevic says: “If you want to increase the impressions of your Facebook Ads, you can try using Automatic Placements.”

“This ensures your ads appear on every relevant placement opportunity, be it in the News Feed, Stories, or Messenger. It also has a positive effect on your CPM, reducing the cost of serving your ads and helping them show more often if your Frequency cap is not too strict.”

automatic placements for facebook ads

But going back to split-testing, Peter Lee of Famlee Digital recommends to “A/B Test with placement variations to see what results you get, and what is going to deliver the best results for your investment.”

8. Focus on building engagement

“The number of Impressions your ad receives is impacted by not just targeting and bidding settings, but also by engagement metrics,” Black Propeller‘s John Thornton explains.

“The percentage of your potential Reach that is realized in the form of Impressions is directly related to how well your audience responds to your ads in the form of comments, reactions, and shares.”

“Simply put: Facebook will show your ads more often if they resonate with the audience you are showing them to. At the end of the day, it’s about user experience.”

Laura Davis from The Hub for Social Media Managers agrees: “Your ad creative needs to be engaging! The same as organic posts in that if your audience starts a conversation in the comments, or if people share your ad it will naturally increase the reach of your ads.”

“Creating thumb-stopping and engaging content is an art but well worth trying to master as this is a great way to increase your reach.”

“However that will only work if you are tuned into what your audience will respond to and that you speak to a specific audience, so having effective targeting on your campaigns will also be important,” Davis continues.

“Combine those with a solid testing plan and you should see improved results.”

Tim Denman of ServGrow adds: “Create an ad worth sharing and target your followers for a few days. Their interactions with your ad will launch a reach chain reaction with no extra cost for you.”

Summarizing, Laura Roeder of Paperbell says: “To increase reach on Facebook, it’s all about share-ability. One surprising tactic for shares is an in-depth explanation of your product. A demo or video is ideal.”

“People generally don’t share more branded content unless it’s truly remarkable and creative. But if they see a demonstration of a product that looks interesting, they may share with friends who would be interested in the product. Think QVC; a fast-paced, engaging video that shows off every angle of the product.”

*Editor’s note: Our Engagement Summary for Facebook Pages & Facebook Ads dashboard shows this data in any easy-to-read (and share) format. You’ll see things like your reach and impressions, alongside other engagement metrics like the number of clicks, likes, and comments:

facebook reporting dashboard

9. Copy the same post ID for different ad sets

Bryan Duffin of Duffin Digital has a smart hack to boost Facebook Ad impressions: “Use the ‘Post ID’ of an ad across your Ad Sets and campaigns, instead of copying/pasting the ad. When you copy/paste the ad, Facebook is actually creating a new ad with a new Post ID.”

“However, when you use the same Post ID, all the engagements that take place from all your targeting gets added together,” Duffin explains.

“This helps get your Ad a good relevancy score for engagement, making it more likely to get impressions over other advertisers.”

10. Set an ad frequency limit to avoid fatigue

“While looking at the impressions metric is a great KPI to report on, the number of impressions you get can be misleading when you’re trying to report on how many of the impressions you received were unique,” writes Yash Thapar.

“It’s important to spend some of your budget on a reach optimized campaign when looking to increase the number of unique impressions.”

Thapar continues: “To do this effectively, simply create a reach objective ad and in the ad set level put a cap on the frequency. A frequency cap of 1 – 2 is enough–this means that your ads won’t be shown to the same person more than once or twice, depending on what you set your frequency at.”

You can see the frequency of your ads using the same Performance columns:

ad frequency facebook ads

Plus, NapoleonCat‘s Kasia Majewska explains: “When people see the same piece of content too much, they get ad fatigue or, in other words, they get sick of seeing the same thing.”

“That’s why it’s important to preserve moderation in increasing impressions and find your effective frequency or the sweet spot in the number of times your ad has to be seen by an individual user before they take action.”

“Here’s how you can do it: let’s assume one of your ads has 100 reach and 250 impressions. Your ad frequency, or the number of times each user has seen your content on average, would be 2.5.”

Majewska continues: “Count ad frequency for all your ads and observe user behavior. If your Facebook ad frequency increases and your conversion rate goes down, you know that people have seen your content too much and are getting annoyed.”

That’s why Aaron Luther of AlltimePower says: “You generally don’t want to increase impressions unless you’re reaching more people as well.”

“This would lead to the same people seeing your ads over and over again, which would drive impressions but is unlikely to have a positive impact on your advertising results.”

Related: 15 Tips for a Lower Facebook Ad Frequency and Higher Relevance Score

Ready to boost your reach and impressions?

There’s no doubt that reach and impressions are important metrics for Facebook advertisers to track.

Keeping a close eye on them means you can see how many people you’re reaching with each ad–and whether they might be getting tired of seeing the same ad time and time again.

Use these expert tips to manage the balance. It’s the best way to build brand awareness with your Facebook Ads campaigns.

About the author
Elise Dopson
Elise Dopson Elise Dopson is a freelance B2B writer for SaaS and marketing companies. With a focus on data-driven ideas that truly provide value, she helps brands to get noticed online--and drive targeted website visitors that transform into raving fans.
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