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When should I use Advanced Reporting vs. Segmentation Reporting?

There are two types of reporting available in the Report Builder interface: Advanced Reporting and Segmentation Reporting.

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TL;DR

Advanced Reporting is designed for users to quickly analyze their data and then perform optimization actions based on their findings directly from the report itself. It's completely customizable and enables users to pivot and break out performance based on any number of parameters of interest.

Pros: powerful, flexible, can perform actions right away. Cons: requires campaigns to be properly structured in order to gain insights. 

Segmentation Reporting is designed for users to analyze their data quickly by using preset templates that return data in a read-only format. There is limited customization available and users cannot perform optimization actions directly from the report. 

Pros: simple, easy, can gain insights even if campaigns are not structured to explicitly perform A/B tests. Cons: can't perform actions — read only. 

 

When should I use Advanced Reporting?

Ideally, always. But it's most useful if your campaigns are properly structured (i.e., targeting is not aggregated across the parameters you're wanting to A/B test). An example of a properly structured campaign that's designed to A/B test performance differences between genders:

Campaign X containing Ad Set A (explicitly targeting males), and Ad Set B (explicitly targeting females)

Learn more about creating Advanced Reports here.

 

When should I use Segmentation Reporting?

Personally, I treat Segmentation Reporting as the backup plan for when you can't use Advanced Reporting to get these kinds of insights.

Use Segmentation Reporting if your campaigns are using aggregated targeting across A/B test parameters (e.g., targeting all genders instead of explicitly targeting males and females), but you want to analyze if there is a performance difference between the two genders. 

Campaign X containing Ad Set A (targeting both males and females)

Learn more about creating Segmentation Reports here.

 

If I look at the same campaign with both Advanced Reporting and Segmentation Reporting, will I see a difference in results?

Maybe, but likely "yes". Here's why (using an example of an A/B test on gender targeting):

In Advanced Reporting, we look at the Ad Set targeting, and show metrics according to who was targeted. This is because we cross-reference our own databases so that when we create pivoted reports based on stuff like gender, each row represents a number of unique entities. Let's say you have 6 ad sets, targeted like this:

  1. Males only
  2. Males only
  3. Females only
  4. Females only
  5. No gender targeting (left blank) - Unspecified
  6. No gender targeting (left blank) - Unspecified

Let's assume all ad sets spend $100 in the same time period. If you group by gender, you'll get 3 rows because there's 3 different types of gender targeting done at the Ad Set level (Males, Females, and Unspecified (all)), and they'll all have $100 spend. Now obviously ad sets 5 and 6 will have males and females in them who received the ads, but they aren't attributed to the male or female rows because their ad set targeting was set to "unspecified".

So a spend report will look like this:

  • Males ($200)
  • Females ($200)
  • Unspecified ($200)

In Segmentation Reporting, this data is pulled directly from the publisher (e.g., Facebook). It's read only and not actionable. This is because Facebook returns metrics according to who actually received the ads. So in this instance you'll get three rows still, but it will add the male and females from ad sets 5 and 6 to the "male" and "female" buckets. Let's assume 40% of the "Unspecified" buckets were male and 50% were female, with the remaining 10% left as unspecified as the publisher does not have "gender" information on them.

Now the spend report would look like this:

  • Males ($200 + $80 = $280)
  • Females ($200 + $100 = $300)
  • Unspecified ($20)

The reason Advanced Reports are created like this is because it means each row directly correlates to unique entities — so that you can then immediately perform actions on those rows (e.g., pause ad sets targeted at females). With Segmentation Reporting this isn't possible because the row that makes up "females" is made up of a combination of female-only targeted ad sets and unspecified-targeted ad sets — so what would you really be taking action on? Hence, Segmentation Reports are read only.

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