FAME: Exploring Facebook's Ads Manager for Excel

By Brett Schrank | @brett_schrank | Production Associate at Hanapin Marketing

One of the largest aspects of digital marketing distinguishing it from traditional forms of advertising is the amount of information available in near real-time – information on consumer attributes and behaviors relating directly to the marketer’s efforts. The data we accrue can be used to immediately measure the success of a campaign, evaluate the best strategies for a brand, and pivot in search of ever-improving performance, ensuring money invested is well spent. When it comes to utilizing data for PPC, three sequential tasks emerge in cyclical rotation:

  • Retrieval
  • Synthesis
  • Analysis

Our jobs become much easier when these first two processes, retrieving data and aggregating or organizing in a meaningful way, are streamlined or automated, leaving more room to draw important insights from analysis. After all, isn’t it nice having all the information necessary for a decision or action right at your fingertips, rather than spending valuable time repeatedly downloading the same reports and summarizing data in specific ways?

Fortunately, there are a plethora of reporting or analysis tools available for this purpose, with the number of options growing with time. If you’re one who relies heavily on spreadsheets for your data management needs (a common trend in PPC as hinted at by the volume of our articles detailing Excel or Google Sheets alone) then you’re in luck, especially if you’re managing paid social endeavors. Facebook recently unveiled its new Facebook Ads Manager for Excel — FAME for short — a tool designed to alleviate data export and reporting by fetching information from multiple Facebook campaigns or accounts directly within Excel.

What Is FAME?

Fame is the dream of many people, to be amidst shining lights and red carpet and endearing admiration…while perhaps not as glamorous as its namesake, FAME is perhaps the dream of many Facebook marketers. Facebook Ads Manager for Excel is an Excel add-in that allows you to connect to your Facebook business account, create report templates specifying the campaigns, metrics, and dates of your desired information, and download or refresh the data entirely within your spreadsheet without ever having to visit the Facebook interface. If this doesn’t sound intriguing enough, then it should also be mentioned that FAME is a fully free tool, an enticing option for those hesitant to plunge into paid reporting platforms or anyone simply seeking to enhance their data analysis through Excel.

How Do I Install And Access FAME?

As of now, FAME is only available in Excel 2016 for Windows or Mac, so verify you have this version running on either operating system before proceeding.

To install FAME, follow these instructions:

1.  Within Excel, navigate to the “Insert” tab in the ribbon toolbar and select “Store” (the same option can also be found in the menu bar on Mac).

Add-ins

2.  On the newly opened Store page, search for “Facebook Ads Manager for Excel” and select “Add”.

Facebook Ads Manager For Excel

3.  After loading, the add-in will open its menu sidebar on the right side of your spreadsheet. A warning message may appear prompting for your authorization to run. Click “Trust this add-in.”

4.  Once authorized, you’ll receive another prompt to log into your Facebook account (you’ll also receive the same prompt whenever you log out within the add-in):

Log into Facebook account

5.  A code is then generated to allow Excel access to your Facebook account, which you’ll need to enter in the specified address. After this you’re ready to start using FAME!

Begin using FAME

If you already have FAME installed and simply want to access it, select the “My Add-ins” option under the “Insert” tab from step 1 above and choose FAME from the list (either within the “Recently Used Add-ins” or within the pop-up window).

How Do I Use FAME?

If you’re using FAME for the first time or in a sheet that doesn’t already contain a report created by the tool, you’ll be greeted with a summary screen in the sidebar detailing the actions you can take with the add-in.

FAME actions

Located to the right on your active spreadsheet window, the sidebar serves as a central navigation and controller hub for any action taken within FAME. If you close this panel, you can simply open it again and resume your work by following the directions in the above section.

From this screen, you can see there are two main choices to pursue. Create a report or manage templates along with the ancillary options to provide feedback natively in the application, consult the Facebook documentation for assistance, view the terms of service, or log out of your account. Since templates form the heart of reports generated through FAME, we’ll investigate this component first.

Templates

Templates allow you to create settings specifying dimensions and filters to build the report on, and they can be shared among various reports as indicated by their name. Upon selecting the “Manage Templates” button, a pop-up window containing a list of saved templates is displayed (or a blank list is shown if none has been created):

Manage report templates

To edit a pre-existing template, simply select it from the list, otherwise, a new one can be generated by clicking “Create New Template.”

There are four customizable aspects when creating or editing a template:

  • Level: This option dictates how your data will be aggregated at a high level according to your account structure. Possibilities include account, campaign, ad set, and ad groupings.
  • Columns: These are the metrics that will appear in any report utilizing this template. The options here are identical to those seen in Ads Manager. Several pre-defined columns are available for use (e.g. “Performance,” “Delivery,” “Engagement”) in addition to custom lists.
  • Breakdowns: This contains choices for further segmentation on a variety of dimensions including age, time, gender, region, etc. (also congruent with Ads Manager).
  • Filter: These include guidelines for which data will appear in your report. There are a variety of selections in the “Filters” drop-down menu, and clicking the “+” button below provides even more options ranging from campaign names to ad set specifications.

Reports

Reports are how you retrieve the data specified in your templates for the desired time frames and accounts, and your Excel document can contain a multitude of reports for various purposes as you see fit.

Creating Reports

Creating a report is a simple four step process:

1.  In a sheet that doesn’t already contain a FAME report, select the “Create Report” button in the sidebar (if the sheet does contain a report, the button will appear as a “+” icon). This will bring up the first step of choosing the ad accounts you wish to pull your data from. Observe you aren’t limited to just one account. You can assimilate data from multiple sources.

Ad accounts

2.  Next, select the template you wish to base your report on. If you haven’t created any templates at this point, there’s an option to create one directly from this interface. There also appears to be a default “example template” available for any report. Note you can’t preview the contents of your selected template within this window, although this becomes visible in step 4.

3.  Choose the date range you want to view your data. You can either input a custom timeframe or select one of the pre-defined ranges available in Ads Manager (e.g. “Last 7 days”, “This month”).

4.  Finally, preview your selections to ensure your report will contain the exact information you want. At this point, you can return to the previous three steps to change the accounts, template, or date range chosen. Once you are finished, click “Create.”

Viewing And Refreshing Reports

After your report has been finalized, it will begin downloading to a newly created tab within your workbook where it will remain housed for viewing and refreshing. Each sheet can hold only one report, and the sheet’s tab itself will look something like this:

New template

You’ll see the name of the template used as well as what appears to be an identifier code for the chosen report. While you can change the tab name, doing so will prevent you from later refreshing the report, so take caution if you prefer to have a specific naming convention in your documents. 

Upon selecting a sheet containing a report, the FAME sidebar will update to contain that report’s details as well as some extra options.

Additional FAME options

The time of the report’s last update is indicated directly below the “Report Details” header along with the option to refresh the data within the selected time frame, updating automatically if it’s a dynamic range like “Last month.” You can also modify the date range with an option under the “Refresh Data” drop-down button. Unfortunately at this time it doesn’t appear there are any other edits that can be performed on reports after creation (e.g. changing accounts or columns), even if the underlying template is updated. The only way to make such alterations is to create a new report.

Concluding Thoughts

The above was a detailed dive into the various components of Facebook Ads Manager for Excel and how to use this new tool to create and refresh Facebook reports directly within a spreadsheet. For the social marketer, FAME offers some neat functionality for optimizing your time on data analysis and creates opportunities for creative utilization of the information it provides.

One of FAME’s greatest features is its ability to retrieve and summarize information from multiple Facebook accounts in a single report, a task requiring multiple exports and consolidation work using Ads Manager. If this is an area you’ve yearned for an easier solution, then FAME can be leveraged as a valuable tool. The ability to refresh data in whichever time range you need with just the click of a button is also a great time saver, eliminating the need to repeatedly pull reports from the interface when updated information is required.

As with any tool, especially newly developed ones, there are aspects that could be improved for a continually better experience. To share my opinions from playing around with FAME, I think it would be nice to eventually see more functionality for editing reports after they’re established (without having to create new reports), as well as more flexibility in tab naming without limiting refreshing capabilities.

On that topic, I’ve grown accustomed to working with similar tools in Google Sheets that allow automatic scheduled refreshing, which would be a neat addition for FAME. Without being a developer, however, it’s tough to comment on what is possible especially when comparing online tools to offline ones. Fortunately the option to submit feedback and ideas is a prominent feature of the tool. I encourage you to reflect on and share your own experiences to help guide the product to best meet its users’ needs.

Have you tried using Facebook Ads Manager for Excel in your own PPC efforts? We’d love to hear how it’s working for you. And if you haven’t tested it for yourself, hopefully, this introduction provided some inspiration to try something new in your data analysis endeavors.

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