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Facebook Ads Manager vs Power Editor: Which Is Better?

Last updated: 05-27-2019

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Facebook Ads Manager vs Power Editor: Which Is Better?

Going from the world of boosted posts to bona fide Facebook Ads is like moving from a dank studio apartment in the basement of an alright Italian joint into a charming brownstone abutting well-manicured greenspace.  

Just like upgrading your digs, this leap comes with a slew of important, outcome-impacting questions.

That last one’s a doozy.

Facebook presents you with two different interfaces through which you can create and optimize your ads. Neophytes will naturally gravitate to Ads Manager, the de facto UI; know-it-alls like me see a name like “Power Editor” and think “that’s the place for me.”

Often, once a decision’s been made, we tend to stick with what we know, willfully ignoring the other option. Why learn two interfaces when you can master one, right?

To maximize the impact Facebook Ads can have on your business, you need to leverage the best parts of Ads Manager and Power Editor.

Today, I’m going to review exactly when you should use Facebook Ads Manager, when it’s better to switch over to Power Editor, and what to do if vacillating between two interfaces starts melting your brain.

Per Facebook, Ads Manager is a tool that allows you to:

Ads Manager is Facebook’s standard platform for all things creation, management, and optimization. It offers a more guided advertiser experience than Power Editor, which can be fantastic for those who are just dipping their toes into the world of digital marketing.

That being said: if you’ve cut your teeth in AdWords and you’re looking to skip straight to the good stuff, you’ll probably find Ads Manager a bit cumbersome. Once you wrap your head around Facebook’s nuances and your ad account becomes more robust, you’ll start to feel as though the training wheels have been on too long.

It’s a browser-based tool (no download necessary!) that enables bulk action and, thus scalability, by streamlining processes like creation and duplication. There’s also the added benefit of a review process; since nothing you do in Power Editor can be pushed live without you explicitly approving it, the chances of you paying for a half-baked ad set are reduced significantly (this can be super helpful for novices). It aint pretty, but it sure is… powerful.

Power Editor has a steeper learning curve than Ads Manager, and the lack of guidance can make you feel lost until you have your footing. It’s also worth noting that Power Editor can be finicky (and by that, I mean buggy) due to the fact that it functions as a sandbox for new Facebook advertising features.

It’s framed as a tool for experts, a fact that’s corroborated by, well, experts. According to Facebook marketing savant Brett McHale, “Power editor has all of the capabilities of the ads manager but doesn't treat you like a kid. It allows you to clone anything, to adjust multiple assets very easily without a clunky tutorial-like interface.”

Now that you’ve got an idea as to how Ads Manager and Power Editor differ, let’s look at where each tool shines.

In Ads Manager, the Account Overview is a haven for all things data. It gives you the ability to generate simple visualizations forFacebook’s key performance metrics across any date range; better yet, you can bounce between four separate metrics without ever having to refresh the page (if you’re new, the little “I” icons next to the metrics you’re reviewing offer explanations and links to resources that can help you get up to speed).

This makes it easy to observe the impact of your optimization efforts at a higher level. I’d also like to point out the “Objective” box below the line graphs; this breaks your campaigns into groups based on the objective you chose at their inception; from here, drilling down into a specific campaign to make changes is a cinch.

But wait, there’s more!

Ads Manager’s Account Overview tab also allows you to look at those exact same metrics based on age, gender (or both simultaneously), and by either hour of day or region.

Power Editor, on the other hand, offers a rather sparse overview tab.

Account Overview in PE will only provide you with the first section available in Ads Manager:

This makes sense given that PE is a tool built for creation, not analysis; if you’re using Power Editor for account building, you shouldn’t be leaning on it for high-level data analysis and reporting; instead, jump to Ads Manager to kick off any Facebook optimization efforts.

(Until it’s time to execute, that is.)

The Account Overview tab should be the first place you land when after selecting a Facebook ad account in which to work. It isn’t (Zuck, if you’re reading this, take the free advice). Instead, when you decide to leave the familiar pasture of your business’ Facebook page in search of affordable leads, you’re dropped into Ads Manager’s “Campaign” tab.

The Campaign tabs in both Ads Manager and Power Editor are ostensibly the same thing; both list your campaigns, active or otherwise, and provide the ability to customize columns. The only real differences between the two are that PE affords you the ability to view campaigns that are “in draft” (meaning unpublished) and export data to a spreadsheet.

In the Ad Set tab, Ads Manager offers you an array of interchangeable columns (like the campaign tab pictured above) but not much else…

Whereas Power Editor provides a more robust set of actions here, including:

Where Power Editor really takes the cake, though, is in the creation of new Campaigns and Ad Sets.

In Ads Manger, campaign creation is a guided process. You begin by choosing a campaign objective…

From there, Facebook will guide you through the entire process of campaign creation; your progress can be tracked on this handy visual that lives on the left-hand side of the Ads Manager UI:

This workflow takes a long while to get through, but after you’ve whittled your targeting down (easily the most time-consuming part of the whole ordeal, and for a good reason!), established a budget, and created an ad, you’ll wind up with aFacebook ad that looks like this:

With Power Editor, while the finished product will be the exact same, the process is virtually devoid of the helpful frills that make Ads Manager tick. Unless you want them to be there! See that bar on the right-hand side of the “Create Campaign” menu below? When you’re building a Campaign or Ad Set in Power Editor, you’re always given the opportunity to use guided creation (the term Facebook gives to the “Ads Manager way”).

Ad creation—from scratch—is identical in both Ads Manager and Power Editor (check out the Facebook Creative Hub for inspiration), but what happens when you’re trying to generate variants quickly?

When you duplicate an existing ad in Ads Manager, Facebook populates a nifty little order screen. While it’s certainly fantastic to know that you’re about to spend money, having to do this click through the purchase options every time you want to conduct an A/B test is a massive pain in the ass.

In Power Editor, though, this isn’t the case.

All you need to do is select the ad(s) you want to duplicate and designate which Campaign and Ad Set you want he duplicate creatives to live in (or you can create new ones):

Once your new ad variants are tweaked to your liking, all you need to do is press the “Review Draft Items” button at the top of your Power Editor UI (note: if your new ads suck, there’s also a “Discard Changes” option; this doesn’t exist in Ads Manager) to review your changes in aggregate:

If you feel like you’ve got a handle on Facebook Advertising and you value speed and precision, Power Editor is the place for you; if you’re learning the ropes, consider playing around with Ads Manager until you get comfortable. Either way, if you’re planning to launch any sort of split-testing, you’re better off getting down with Power Editor.

Outside of ad testing, optimization in Facebook is focalized around audience, bid, and budget management. Where do you think the best place to do those things is?

“Ads Manager. All. Day.” - Brett, the aforementioned Facebook Ads aficionado, on whether to optimize performance in Ads Manager or Power Editor.

You see, while Power Editor is the perfect tool for crafting an account and generating ad creative efficiently, Ads Manager is equally great for admiring your handiwork and making high-level adjustments.

As I mentioned earlier, the Account Overview tab in Ads Manager affords you a more insightful, uh, overview of your account. From there, you can quickly drill into groups of campaigns based on their common objective and shift budgets/adjust bids based on performance over a given period. If something isn’t working as planned, Ads Manager is going to tell you about it.

As I’ve shown you today, the best way to manage your Facebook Ads account is to blend Ads Manager (overview and optimization) and Power Editor (creation) in your workflow.

If, in addition to your current PPC workload, switching between two interfaces for Facebook alone sounds daunting, I might have a little something to help you improve your results without increasing your effort.

WordStream Advisor allows you to roll Facebook, AdWords, and Bing into a single interface, pulling cross-platform performance metrics into one easy-to-use dashboard.

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what's good for you, you'll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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