If you’re like many marketers, you may not have given the Facebook relevance score much attention.

It might be tempting not to. After all, if your ads are converting and you’re happy with the numbers, then does relevance score really matter? You’d better believe it. Keeping reading to find out why.

Facebook Must Serve Two Masters

Like an aging rock band that must keeping nurturing its fan base if it wants to keep selling $275 concert tickets, Facebook must keep its users happy if it wants to keep them around. And what’s a sure-fire way to turn away people in droves? Other than producing crappy albums, it’s too much advertising. Especially if those ads are seen as unrelated or annoying.

Secondly, Facebook must also serve its dark (but wealthy) overlord: the advertising industry that provides it with over $20 billion of revenue each year. (By the way, I just realized that I’m part of the advertising industry, so does that make me a dark overlord? I sure hope so.) As advertisers, we want as much ad inventory as we can get our hands on.

Does that put advertisers at odds with Facebook users? Maybe not.

The advertising industry provides Facebook with over $20 billion of revenue each year. Click To Tweet

Users And Advertisers Want The Same Thing

On the surface, it might seem that Facebook users want absolutely no ads, while Facebook advertisers want all the ads. But neither statement is really true.

As a Facebook user, you do need to see some advertisements, unless you want to start paying for access. Which you’re not going to, you cheap bastard. And since Facebook stated years ago that its platform will always be free to use, that’s unlikely to be an option anyway.

Now, as an advertiser, do you want your ads to be shown to fewer people? Or pay more than necessary? Of course not. In a perfect world, your ads would be shown at the top of the News Feed, where they’d receive a 100% click-through-rate and a cost per conversion of just pennies. Sure.

With either too many or two few ads, the Facebook ad ecosystem dies.

How Many Facebook Ads Are Users Willing To See? It Depends

If I were in charge of Facebook’s ad platform, a big part of my job would be maximizing Facebook’s sustainable inventory of ads. How many ads is Facebook serving today? It’s easy to find out. If the average cost of advertising on Facebook is $7 CPM, and Facebook generates $20 billion in ad revenue, then they have about 2.8 trillion ad impressions to serve each year. At 1.5 billion users, that’s about 5 ads per person/day.

Let’s pretend that Facebook wanted to increase the number of ads per person/day from 5 to 5.5. Let’s look at a few options to see if any would work:

  • Show more ads. Nope. This would worsen the user experience and may cause people to spend less time on the site. This might actually reduce ad inventory. After all, if people aren’t visiting Facebook in the first place you can’t show them an ad.
  • Change placement to make ads less prominent. Wrong again. Facebook would have to reduce CPM for their ads, as advertisers wouldn’t be willing to pay as much for a less prominent placement.
  • Show ads that are more relevant. Bingo! If you’re only seeing ads that are tailored to your interests, you’d be willing to put up with more of them. And that’s exactly what the Facebook relevance score is for: to encourage advertisers to show ads that are less annoying more valuable to its users.

Facebook Relevance Score Helps Advertisers And Users

Ultimately, the Facebook relevance score helps get advertisers get better results from fewer ads. If your advertisements are being shown to the right audience, you shouldn’t need to generate as many impressions to  get the same result.

And it gives users a better experience by encouraging advertisers to show them ads that relate to their likes and interests.

Ultimately, the Facebook relevance score helps get advertisers get better results from fewer ads. Click To Tweet

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Facebook rewards and punishes advertisers based on the relevance score of their ads. After all, if they were able to increase ad inventory from 5 to 5.5 per user per day (without sacrificing CPM), that could potentially add $2 billion of advertising revenue to Facebook’s pockets each year. Not bad.

That may be part of why, according to a recent report by AdAge, the number of ad impressions Facebook served increased by 29% from 2014 to 2015.

Improving Your Facebook Relevance Score

Hopefully you’re now convinced that you need to pay attention to improving your Facebook relevance score. However, just because you care about hitting a high relevance score doesn’t make it easy. In fact, I’ve often found it pretty tough.

Facebook_relevance_score_bad_ads
If ads could get a negative Facebook relevance score, these probably would.

I’ll cover some tips on improving your relevance score in a future post, but in the meantime, if you’ve cracked the code on consistently getting a high Facebook relevance score, and I’d love to hear how you do it. Leave your advice in the comments below.