The social network has long used a combination of bid price and relevance scoring to determine which ads to show consumers, but until now marketers were left guessing how Facebook decides whether an ad is likely to appeal to users.

Facebook Inc. wants ads on its platform to be relevant to its users, which is why it has long used a combination of bid price and relevance scoring to determine which ads to show consumers. But until now marketers didn’t know exactly how the social network judged the relevancy of their ads.

This week Facebook is removing that guesswork by showing ads’ “relevance scores” in its ads reporting tools.

The scores could help marketers lower the cost of their ads, Facebook says, because the higher an ad’s relevance score, the less it will cost to deliver. At the very least, it should help marketers better understand what ads Facebook users respond to.  

Facebook scores an ad’s relevance on a one to 10 scale, ranging from irrelevant to highly relevant to an ad’s target audience. It calculates that score by measuring how positively or negatively the ad’s target audience is likely to respond to it, based on reactions to similar ads, as well as to the ad when it goes live. The more positive indicators an ad receives, which can range from video views to Likes to comments on the ad, the higher the score the ad will receive. Negative factors include consumers’ clicks to hide an ad or report it as spam.

Facebook says it will update an ad’s score as users view an ad. And marketers can adjust ads that the social network has deemed less relevant.


The relevance score is most important to direct-response ads that aim to encourage consumers to download a brand’s mobile app or click to a merchant’s site, as opposed to campaigns meant to build awareness of a brand. Facebook distinguishes an ad’s objective and says the score has a smaller impact on the cost and delivery of ads that aim to boost brand awareness because those ads aim to draw attention to a brand, rather than drive a specific action.

While Facebook suggests that the relevance score could decrease a marketer’s costs, the score is only a piece of the formula the social network uses to determine which ads it delivers; the marketers’ bid also matters.

“If two ads are aimed at the same audience, there’s no guarantee that the ad with an excellent relevance score and low bid will beat the ad with a good relevance score and high bid,” writes the social network, in a blog post. “But, overall, having strong relevance scores will help advertisers see more efficient delivery through our system.”

Marketers also can use the score to test different combinations of image and copy with different audiences before they roll out a large-scale campaign, Facebook says.