Most annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups we’ve experienced & how we worked around them

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We’ve already went through marketing mistakes startups might be facing (not your startup of course…), and why it might make sense to hire Michelle.
Let’s tackle a different angle this time: How to work around annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups.

The Love & Hate relationship with Facebook Ads Manager

For any advertiser, be it a B2B company, an ecommerce company, an app marketer, or even an ad-agency, there’s no argument that nowadays you can’t find a better performing network than Facebook. At least, that’s the answer you’ll get if you ask us at G2M Team.

Facebook recently reached 2 billion users, meaning that its ad-relevant user base practically includes the whole world. The best part is Facebook allows advertisers to target people based on their true interests, both the declarative ones as well as the predicted ones; hyper-local targeting based on zip codes, store locations, cookies, re-marketing; status targeting, custom lists, lookalike lists, etc.

Seriously, when I think of smart advertising as it should be, Facebook nailed it.

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Alas, despite its complexities and advancements, this ad-manager back office system that we, as marketers, all know and work with is not bug-free. Not even close. There are some Facebook ad-manager fuckups.

Gone are the days of “Power Editor” with all of its glitches and bugs, where campaigns needed to be saved to operate, and any change which was not saved was simply lost in the abyss.

The current business manager used by professionals (and linked to the Facebook ad-manager) is a much more coherent tool, but it still as of 2017 has numerous glitches and infinite problems which can not only cost precious time and effort, but can also make the lives of campaign managers a living hell if not dealt with intelligently.

We’ve been (and still are) there. And we feel the pain.

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So, we’ve decided to roll up our sleeves, map out the most annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups that we’ve encountered and hand it to you.

Side note… Besides those insights, below you’ll find real life examples of hurdles our team has encountered while using Facebook’s ad manager: targeting glitches, UX horrors, bugs that I can’t describe other than “created to make you lose your mind” … you name it. It’s all here.

But worry not – with almost every challenge the system throws at you, we found an adequate hack or solution to solve the issue.

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Here we go:

Annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups how to avoid them:

  • “Expand interests” issues:

The interest expansion was introduced as an expansion of the traditional interest-based or custom-based targeting. Facebook calls it “targeting expansion”.

annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups

We’ve accoutered a couple of related issues with this relatively new feature:

  • Be careful, sometimes it’s turned on by default – but not always. We couldn’t find a consistent pattern, nor did it happen to all team members, but we did have to turn it off after noticing that the target audience (that we micro targeted to match a niche B2B offering) had reached an enormous scale…
  • Why, oh why, won’t it let it go?! – The system at times randomly selects this elective feature, and forces the advertiser to keep it on. Sometimes even when the box was not checked in the initial campaign set up, it was suddenly added. In other cases, the check field is dyed grey and you can’t unmark it!

Solution: Once your campaign is active, double check your audience size to make sure it didn’t reach a new scale over night while you were sleeping… If it surprisingly did, “targeting expansion” may be the cause. If the uncheck option is available, just uncheck. If not, try to create a new audience through “audiences” and then update the campaign with your saved audience.

Not to be a downer, but we even once had to create the whole campaign all over again when we couldn’t get rid of this option, no matter how hard we tried. We tried editing the campaign via different business-manager profiles, we tried consulting with Facebook, and eventually (when we were done crying) we restructured the whole campaign. Let’s hope this never happens to you.

  • Scrolling when setting-up or editing ad-sets:  

If you have a long history of fighting in the trenches, and hands-on experience setting up campaigns, you probably know exactly what we’re talking about:

For some (odd) reason, the ads-manager UI contains many scroll buttons, which don’t work together very well. If you’re optimizing a campaign, and yet want to scroll down on the general campaign view, the scroll jumps back and up or just disappears altogether, preventing you from getting to the data you’re looking for.

When that happens to me, I feel like I am being intentionally abused!

See the screen below? Sometimes, believe it or not, the scroll button you now see is just not there! First time it happened to me I panicked. A scroll button is something you ALWAYS expect to be there, like air, like the ground.

annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups

First off, if you have experienced this first hand you should know you are not alone. This happens to everyone (I know as I joined professional Facebook groups that, ironically, are where campaign managers get help with their Facebook advertising challenges) .

Sometime your screen won’t stop “dancing”… I can’t find a better way to describe it. It feels like you are having an epilepsy attack…

Like many other bugs, there’s no consistency here either. When I wanted to record this phenomenon, for the purpose of adding a video example here, the deck suddenly behaved like it should…

But, I know that those of you who have experience working on Facebook ads manager fully understand me. We are not crazy!

With all modesty, you won’t believe the simple solution we found for this UI issue, and like my mom always says, necessity is the mother of inventions:

Solution – Just Zoom out to adjust the resolution and voila! It will eventually uncover the lost scroll button and sometimes it will help stop or minimize the dancing. Give it a try!

  • Duplicate campaign or ad-set issue #1:

You know how it goes, when you’ve snooped around your campaigns, optimized, them and really drilled down into the numbers. You find a great ad-set that’s working amazingly for you, and you’d like to duplicate it for the case of audience expansion, or A/B testing or even simply to create an identical campaign, with one minor change (geo, creative, ad copy, etc.). So here’s the thing… Facebook, from time to time, just does not allow any duplication options for specific ad-sets or campaigns that have been running for a while. The official error looks like this:

annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups

We think this happens because Facebook doesn’t want “old” campaigns to keep running forever, as they don’t support new features and additions.

Solution: Well, sadly, no hacks nor shortcuts in this case. If you see this error, you’ll have to go ahead and set up a new ad set based on the current campaign and hope for the best. The odd thing, though, that makes us think it’s simply a bug, is that while you can’t duplicate an ad-set in this case, you can create a new one within this “old” campaign.

Duplication issue #2- Facebook is pulling tricks on you!

Sometime, when you duplicate an ad-set or campaign, the system manages to mess it all up, with different settings, etc.

Solution: Just stay very aware, double check all settings (yes, I know it’s a duplication. Still…) and stay suspicious!

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  • Location targeting issue. You can’t exclude unless you include!

So, you’d like to exclude a certain town or region from the campaign you’re running, whether during the initial campaign targeting or during the optimization phase as part of the ongoing campaign management. While you can exclude specific locations as long as you’ve included some, with LAL (lookalike) or custom audiences targeting, you can’t just simply exclude locations.

Solution: pretty straightforward – when I want to exclude a territory in a LAL based campaign, I first include the other locations that are ok.

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can’t find link, use the image as is

  • Unsaved changes:

This issue, IMHO, is by far the most annoying issue of them all. It can drive a calm campaign manager out of his or her mind. Sometimes, the changes you’ve made in campaigns disappear when you switch to view. I’ll say that again – disappear. Sometimes all the changes you’ve made don’t even appear on your business manager deck, and this might be after a strenuous optimization process.

Solution: DON’T PANIC! It’s not for real, just refresh. All your changes should be right there, safe and sound.

  • Audiences expand:

Facebook has an incredible tool called “Audiences”, which allows campaign managers to get an estimation of the audience reach on a daily basis, based on the pre-defined campaign targeting parameters. However, sometimes expanding the audience limits the reach. Yes, you’re reading correctly.

You expand interests, not narrow your targeting, and the more you add, the less your reach gets.

Seriously, Facebook, what kind of vicious game are you playing?

Solution: Simply don’t do a thing and ignore the audience forecast, as it is after all, only a forecast. Launch the campaign and check it after 48 hours to gage the reach.

One last thing that causes many campaign management newbies to fall… and hard… is what happens when you update a “saved audience” without noticing.

Here’s how this story goes:

  1. You set up a campaign, or a few campaigns, with multiple ad-sets. Instead of working on the same targeting every time all over again you decide to create a couple of saved audiences and use them when relevant. So far life is great.
  2. Then it comes time to optimize targeting. You ask someone else in the team to update a specific ad-set or campaign.
  3. Your poor and innocent helper opens the ad-set edit, where he or she encounters the “saved audience” box with the option to edit. It looks like this:

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  1. Now the poor guy clicks on edit, thinking he is editing this specific ad-set. But no! He is now editing the saved audience, and once he saves it, the targeting will change across the board, meaning that each and every campaign or ad-set using this audience is changed as well! O-M-G.

Why does this happen? Well, if you ask me, it’s because the UX for editing a saved audience looks almost identical to manually editing an interest based ad-set, with the exception of this slight addition that almost everyone I know doesn’t initially see:

annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups

I beg you Facebook guys, it’s definitely time to refresh the UI and add a pop-up warning before we change settings that will apply to more than just the ad-set we are working on at the time.

How about: “Important – You are about to edit a saved audience that may be used in other ad-sets across multiple campaigns. If you wish to edit this ad-set only, please select ‘save as new’ – this will create a whole new audience.”

Also, while I’m on the subject, why not move the “save as new” option to the top… it shouldn’t be adjacent to “update” and absolutely shouldn’t be dyed grey, as it’s easily overlooked.

Or, why not just let us select between editing a saved audience or manually editing this one ad-set?

Final words:

We love advertising on Facebook. Really, we do. Facebook ads manager is a festival of formats, targeting and creative options, and it gets renewed so often it’s never boring.

But, still, annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups or should we say bugs and silly features that make experienced campaign managers more often than not, cry, are beyond frustrating.

When weird things happen, you wish you knew someone with experience you could talk to, someone who’s been there and done that, someone who could empathize and offer some tips and hacks.

Hope we’ve managed to be that someone. That’s it for our 2017 brief annoying Facebook ad-manager fuckups manual.

Any super annoying bug or feature we’ve missed? Don’t hesitate to drop me a note. My details can be found in the “about the author” section at the bottom of this page. I would love to add to this list!

Einav Laviv
Einav Laviv is a tech marketing expert, a startup founder and the CEO at G2Mteam, that supports Israeli startups with full stack global marketing services. She lives, breathes and loves startups & marketing: B2B, B2C, Mobile, online and product
Einav Laviv
Einav Laviv
hello [at] g2mteam.com
About The Author

Einav Laviv

Einav Laviv is a tech marketing expert, a startup founder and the CEO at G2Mteam, that supports Israeli startups with full stack global marketing services. She lives, breathes and loves startups & marketing: B2B, B2C, Mobile, online and product

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