Should you promote a Facebook video post for views or engagement?

There's a pretty good chance that you landed on this blog post via search. I hope this post helps you think through your options.

Let's get down to business - you have a video post and are considering whether to promote it by bidding for Cost Per View [CPV] or Cost Per Engagement [CPE]? Which one would be more beneficial?

TL;DR - It's contextual and depends on what's the full picture.

Full answer - Read on.

Before we (...I) talk about these bidding models, let's quickly recap on what these bid types will do:

A CPV bidding will show your content to users who are more likely to watch the content. By watching the content, it means 3 second views [or higher]. The default bid is for 3 second views. This can be changed to 10 second views [likely to get higher video retention rate metrics]. 

A CPE bidding will show your content to users who are more likely to like, comment or share your content. 

Facebook engagement bidding.JPG

So far, so good. So, if you were to promote a video post for engagement, would the Cost Per Engagement data include likes, comments and shares only? Nope! It includes 3 second views. I've answered this in more detail in another blog post, titled difference in engagement rate between Facebook ads and Facebook Insights. In Facebook Ads, for a video post, the vast majority of engagements will be made up of 3 second views. 

Ok, now that we know what's the data behind the numbers, we'll also need to rethink of the objective behind the content? If the purpose is to drive engagement, then an engagement bidding is a better solution while a CPV bidding might be a better solution if the content doesn't share too much info for users to engage [e.g. teaser content].

The full value of content: Here's where you'll need to pull up your Ad Manager data , switch the columns to video engagement to see the quartile distribution of views, add columns [post engagements, objective] and download the data.

Facebook ads custom columns video engagement.JPG

Now all you need to do is load up a pivot the data in Excel, create calculated metrics for:

  • 25% retention rate [25% completed views / 3 sec views]
  • 50% retention rate [50% completed views / 3 sec views]
  • 75% retention rate [75% completed views / 3 sec views]
  • 100% retention rate [100% completed views / 3 sec views]
  • Cost Per 25% completed views
  • Cost per 50% completed views
  • Cost per 75% completed views
  • Cost per 100% completed views as columns
  • Cost Per Engagement 

with your objective [engagement vs views] in rows.

What you will you most probably find? 

Putting all the above calculated metrics as columns should show you a clearer picture on what's the full value of your promotion. You'll most definitely see lower CPV and CPEs for view based bidding [even CPEs as engagements includes 3 sec views]. The CPE method should bring up higher retention rates [across the 25%-100% quartiles] because with this bidding, it is being shown to users more likely to engage and by that definition, spend more time with the content.

So, if a video post promoted by engagement bidding has a:

  • 2X higher CPV [3 sec] compared to video posts promoted by CPV bidding
  • 3X higher 75% retention rate [and you'd want users to stay as long as possible]
  • And generating a sizable chunk of likes, comments and shares and the true Cost Per Like, Comment and Share [not CPE, which is inclusive of 3 sec views] comes to only 1.5X

You're getting better value out of the CPE bidding. In the end, it comes down to what you want to achieve. As long as you understand the data behind the high level numbers and what's driving it [CPV, CPE], you'll be in a better position to choose between these two bid types. 

Did you find this post helpful? Did you try this exercise on your ad manager data and found some interesting results? Please share via comments. 

P.S. You can apply the same method to Instagram as well. Just breakdown your data by platform and you now both, Facebook and Instagram data.