Managing Meta Ads has been a pivotal aspect of my business for several years. Given the diverse objectives that can be attained using Meta Ads, needs arise that require the help of tools. There are several special-purpose (including single-purpose) tools that are indispensable for some necessary tasks. Many of them are offered for free by Meta. Others are third-party owned and need to be paid for on a subscription basis. Here is a list of some that I use regularly.

Creative Hub

Creative Hub is a tool offered by Meta for creating mockups of ads. It’s great for experimentation. It’s also meant to be a place where teams can collaborate in ad creation. As mockups are created and changed, previews for how the ad will look in various placements appear on the right.

If a mockup is chosen to be used as an ad, there is a toggle for making the ad available in Ads Manager. Then, in the ad setup panel, three options appear in a dropdown menu: Create an ad, Use an existing post, and Use Creative Hub mockup.

Go to Creative Hub

Ad Library

The Meta Ad Library is a highly valuable tool for advertisers. It allows you to see all of the ads that are currently running over Meta platforms. You can search for ads using keywords, or you can search by advertiser. Anyone can search the Meta Ad Library, even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

To search the library, you must first choose a country and a category. The category options are

  • All ads
  • Issues, elections, or politics
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Credit

In the results, you’ll see the actual ads along with other details, such as when the ad started running and what platforms the ad is being seen on.

When it comes to social issues, elections, or politics, even more information is available. Reports can be downloaded that give overall spending totals by specific advertisers and by location.

Go to Ad Library

Google Analytics

Google Analytics has been the gold standard for tracking website and app user activity for many years. It also has another advantage over other analytics platforms – it’s free. By putting the Google Analytics base tracking code on all pages of your website, you can get an enormous amount of useful data. What kind of data? Think of ABC – acquisition (where the traffic came from), behavior (which pages they looked at, and more), and conversion (did they perform the action I wanted them to?). The newest version of Google Analytics (GA4) is built to work in the new environment of mobile dominance and privacy-enhancing technologies. Since Google Analytics is for tracking all traffic, it’s useful for seeing data related to your Meta Ads campaigns – especially if URL parameters are added to website links.

Go to Google Analytics

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Build a URL Parameter

An age-old method of tracking website activity is to use URL parameters (aka UTM parameters). With this method, destination URLs are tagged with information so that analytics programs can display parsed data. You’ve probably noticed these tags in URLs before. They look something like this:

https://mybiz.com?utm_source=meta&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=summersale

In the ad setup panel of Meta Ads Manager, there is a built-in tool for creating URL parameters. The link to it is just under the website destination field.

If using the tags in the above example, an analytics platform (such as Google Analytics) can segment this traffic by source (Meta), medium (social), and campaign (summer sale). Without the parameters, an analytics program might detect that a conversion occurred but won’t know where the traffic came from.

Meta Ads also supports dynamic URL parameters, meaning that it will pull certain relevant data for you, such as the campaign name. For the campaign name to be pulled automatically, this string should be placed in the campaign name field: {{campaign.name}}.

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is another excellent tool offered for free by Google. It provides an off-site way of managing tracking codes and tags for a website. This is particularly useful for situations when the marketing/ ads manager doesn’t have direct access to the business website. Rather than have to make requests to the webmaster for any changes with tracking codes, the ads manager can make the change off-site, in GTM. This works if a single GTM code gets placed on the website, known as the “container” code.

Another big reason GTM can help with your Meta ads campaigns is that it offers a variety of tag “triggers” that can be used with custom events. For example, one trigger is based on how much time someone spends on a particular web page. This allows you to create a custom event for someone who’s spent a certain amount of time, indicating a higher level of engagement.

Go to Google Tag Manager

Lead Ad Testing Tool

When running ads that use instant forms as the conversion location (chosen in the ad set), leads are captured that can be followed up on. Instant forms allow advertisers to ask custom questions to viewers of an ad, as well as have standard pre-fill fields that can be utilized. For example, the fields of name, phone number, and email address are filled automatically since Meta has that data while users are logged in. These leads can be downloaded from Ads Manager. They can also be seen and worked with in Leads Center, found in Meta Business Suite (although it appears that not everyone has that feature, for some strange reason).

If collecting leads through instant forms is an important part of your business, you almost certainly will want to get the help of third-party software to send the leads directly to your email or a CRM system, such as LeadsBridge or Zapier. This makes it much easier to respond to the leads and keep track of all contacts.

Once the third-party software is set up, it’s important to have a way to test it end-to-end. That’s where the Meta Lead Ad Testing Tools comes in. With this tool, you can create a test lead. The tool will push it through the system from the main source, which is the instant form. You can then see if it makes it all the way to the final destination, such as your email or a CRM system.

Go to Lead Ad Testing Tool

LeadsBridge

My tool of choice for sending instant form leads to email or a CRM is LeadsBridge. It’s reasonably priced and has worked well for me. There have been some frustrations over time; Setting up the “bridges” has not always gone well. But that might be due to the enormously complex mechanics involved and the changes (and glitches) from the Meta side of things.

Go to LeadBridge

The Meta Pixel Helper

The Meta Pixel Helper is a Chrome browser plugin that helps you check that your Meta tracking pixel works. It’s free and can be installed from the Chrome Web Store. Once it’s installed, a small icon will appear next to the address bar. On any website, you can click on it to see if the pixel is installed. You can also see the pixel number and a list of events that fire on any given page.

Go to Meta Pixel Helper

Meta Ads Manager Mobile App

Through the ads manager mobile app, you can create and edit ads that run across all Meta platforms. It’s surprisingly user-friendly and easy to learn (especially if you’re already adept at the desktop version). It’s very handy to keep up with campaign results and turn campaigns on and off. It’s available for both IOS and Android phones for free.

Google vs. Meta Webinar on Mar. 13th, 7 pm

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Wednesday, Mar. 13th, 7 pm

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Subject: Google vs. Meta for Marketing

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is my CRM of choice. When I get leads through Meta ads with instant forms, they are sent to ActiveCampaign immediately by LeadsBridge. The contacts then enter into automations that apply tags to note where the leads came from. They also enter an automation that sends the lead two emails; one immediately, and one the next day (if they didn’t reply to the first one). ActiveCampaign is the only CRM tool that I’ve used extensively. I find it to be user-friendly and full of great features. I would recommend it based on my experience.

Go to ActiveCampaign

See Charts

When you’re in the editing panel of ads manager, there is a small icon on the left with four vertical lines – like a graph. If you click that, you’ll see a panel called Charts. In this panel, you can see performance overview data, recommendations from Meta, and results broken down by age, device, platform, and gender. This data can be seen for all three levels individually – campaign, ad set, and ad. The View Charts link can also be found by hovering over the name of a campaign, ad set, or ad in Ads Manager.

See History

Also in the editing panel of Ads Manager, there is an icon on the left that looks like a clock. Clicking this icon takes you to the See History tool. There, you can see a history of changes at the various levels – campaign, ad set, and ad. You can also see the date and time those changes were made — and who made them. This is particularly useful if multiple people are managing a campaign. Like other ads manager data, you can choose the time frame you want to focus on.

ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an AI tool that took the world by storm at the end of 2022. It has stunning abilities for writing and research. It can be helpful in many ways, including writing text for ads. You can give it some information about what you want to advertise and let it write out a list of text versions for the ad. If it doesn’t write an ad that fits the bill perfectly, at least it can be helpful in offering ideas.

Go to ChatGPT

The Review Panel

When you’re in the setup panel for a campaign, ad set, or ad, notice at the top that there are two tabs – Edit and Review. The edit side is, of course, where you choose options and make changes. But the review side is useful as well. It offers a less-cluttered view of the choices you make. It’s great for double-checking and looking for mistakes, such as: Is the correct location chosen? Are the right audiences selected for inclusion/ exclusion? Is the right performance goal and bid strategy chosen? The review side is most useful for the ad set since many of the most important settings are chosen there.

In Closing

Becoming adept at managing Meta Ads takes time and experience. It’s a much longer and bumpier road than many expect. Help is needed along the way, which includes both information and tools. I hope you find this list of tools I use to be helpful on your road to success.