Facebook Ads Country Tiers

How to Evenly Distribute Your Facebook Ads Budget Across Spotify Countries

You’ve got a new song and you want people to hear it.

Despite all the iOS tracking changes, I still think Facebook and Instagram ads to Spotify are your best bet.

For an overview, check out my post on Facebook Ads for Spotify Best Practices. I’m going to tackle a very specific problem here.

Are you big in India?

Let’s say you target all Spotify countries in a single ad set. What do you predict will happen?

That’s right, most of your ad spend will go to India because it’s so cheap to advertise to.

You might ask why that’s a problem, seeing as India has over 290 million Facebook users, more than any other country.

If those ads result in actual streams, fine. Lately that hasn’t been the case for me.

For example, here are my results over a 7-day period, with a quarter of my budget going to India:

Conversions to India (click to enlarge)

These days Ads Manager doesn’t show how many conversions came from any particular country, but let’s assume India generated a proportionate quarter of the 1170 total (it was almost certainly more). That’s 292 clicks from my landing page to Spotify.

How many streams did those 292 clicks generate? Virtually none.

I think it’s safe to deduce that in this case, Facebook is optimizing for bots or low-quality engagement.

Time and time again, I’ve failed to get any traction in India, so I usually don’t bother trying.

How about Indonesia, Ukraine, The Philippines?

Okay, you’re convinced. You’re not going to take a chance on India, so you eliminate it from your targeting.

What do you predict will happen now?

In my case, most of my ad spend goes to Indonesia, Ukraine, and The Philippines.

Again, not a problem if the clicks result in streams. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Knock out those three countries, and now my budget mostly goes to Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. Which I actually have no problem with!

If you want your budget to reach most or all of the countries you target, you’ll need to split those countries into different tiers across multiple ad sets.

Divide and conquer with country tiers

First, a confession.

It was so hard for me not to title this section “Tiers for Fears.” But I didn’t, and now we can move on.

How do you choose which countries go in which tiers?

A good place to start is CPM, which is the cost of 1000 impressions. In my previous example, India was $0.95, and the United States (not shown) was $9.87.

That’s right, India is 10x cheaper! So of course that’s where Facebook is going to go first.

You can look at your previous campaigns to get an idea of CPM, or you can just steal my current country tiers and tweak from there.

Fine-tuning your country tiers

I spent about a month working through six iterations of my tier structure across three different campaigns.

Here’s where I started:

Tier A: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, United States
Tier B: Brazil, Mexico, Russia, France
Tier C: Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa
Tier D: Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Malaysia, Paraguay, El Salvador, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand
Tier E: Belarus, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Turkey, Ukraine
Tier F: India

And here’s where I ended up (steal these):

Tier A6: Canada, United States
Tier B6: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Tier C6: France, Italy, Poland, Spain
Tier D6: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Russia
Tier E6: India, Indonesia, Philippines

What are we looking for?

Your goals may differ from mine, but let me start with some glaring problems.

Spotify country tier B2

Israel wasn’t getting much love at 3x the cost of the other countries. The solution? Move it up from the B tier to the A tier.

Czech Republic wasn’t getting any action despite having the second-lowest cost. Ultimately I ended up dropping it, and Israel too!

Let’s zoom out from a single tier to the whole lot of ’em:

Spotify country tiers
Tiers A2-E2 (click to enlarge)

What immediately jumps out is that my A2 tier was costing only a few cents more than my E2 tier!

Why would I pay $0.24 per conversion in Belarus or Kazakhstan when I could get $0.27 conversions in the United States or Canada?

Furthermore, the fact that I got 24 conversions out of 38 video plays tells me that my A2 tier is incredibly receptive compared to the others.

Which is why I went back to the drawing board, four more times!

Here’s a full month’s worth of data with my final country tiers in place:

Spotify country tiers A6-E6
Tiers A6-E6 (click to enlarge)

My cost per result scales nicely from $0.12 all the way up to $0.60, and the amount spent on each tier is proportional to the results I see in Spotify for Artists.

Well, mostly. My tier E6 countries (India, Indonesia, Philippines) don’t consistently deliver, but when they do, it’s a bargain!

Brazil, Mexico, and Russia tend to be my top performers, all in tier D6. Sometimes I’ll run ads to just those three countries, especially at the beginning of a campaign when I’m dialing in my ads.

Within each tier, I’m looking for all countries to get a reasonable share of the budget relative to their population. I don’t expect Norway to get as many impressions as Germany.

You know you’ve got a solid tier structure when countries perform differently across campaigns but your overall cost per result still scales up smoothly from the lowest to highest tier.

Wow, that was wordy.

In other words, one song may go over really well in Italy, but if your tiers are working as intended, Italy’s cost per conversion shouldn’t go so low that you’re inclined to drop it to a lower tier.

How do you measure success?

It’s important to remember that our goal isn’t to get the cheapest cost per conversion.

It’s to get the cheapest cost per stream.

Or if you want to take it a step further, the cheapest cost per stream relative to the royalty payout of each country you’re targeting. Since a stream from the US pays more than 6x a stream from Russia, you might factor that into your calculations.

On the other hand, we don’t know that a stream from the US has any more algorithmic weight than a stream from Russia. Depending on your objective, the cheapest stream regardless of location may be the best strategy.

Either way, the ultimate indicator of success is your Spotify for Artists numbers, which you can filter by country.

Along my journey from tiers A-F to tiers A6-E6, I eliminated a bunch of countries where conversions weren’t translating into streams.

Maybe those countries will perform for you though! There’s no way to know without testing for yourself.

Now that I’ve got my tiers nailed down, you’d think I’d be using them for every Spotify campaign, but I’m not!

Instead, I’m using a single ad group to 22 countries that Spotify chose for me. I’ll explain what that means and how you can use it to your advantage in my next post!

How do you decide which countries to target? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

18 Comments

  1. Awesome breakdown Brian!
    Look at trying out South Korea. They have a PPS of $.01 which is similar to Apple Music’s PPS.

    By the way friends, PPS is pay per stream.

    1. Thanks JC! I’ve actually tried South Korea a bunch of times but it never seems to take. You can see in the post that it was in my D tier to start, but no matter how much I move it up it doesn’t get any action. Maybe I need to test it out with its own ad group.

  2. As usual, amazing work and information. You’ve helped me tremendously over the years. I’m curious, did the song you used for the Ad have english vocals? If not, how would you adjust your tier budgeting?

    Also, I’m mad at you for teasing the next post. I can’t wait a month.

    1. It does indeed have English vocals. Now that you mention it, I’m not sure I selected a language in the ad set. I think I tested once and it didn’t make much difference.

      I suppose if I were doing tracks in a second language on a regular basis, I’d create a dedicated set of tiers, assuming my old ones didn’t hold up.

  3. Are you looking into any contextual ad platforms that are safe for cookie deprecation?

    Since android and ios tracking is going out the door and looks like you can’t target narrow audiences on Tik Tok now, i’m starting to think it’s going downhill from here.

    1. I’m not too worried about it just yet. I don’t do TikTok but my understanding was that the ad platform was improving over time. That sounds like a pretty major step back!

      1. Yeah they are limiting targeting and suggesting to expand targeting (which in my experience always performs badly). Honestly, I think the future is running ads on contextually releveant content. AKA a rock music video on a rock music site/channel or a music ad near a concert hall.

        It would be sweet if you could eventually try that and see if it has better results benefiting from the contextual targeting.

  4. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all the fine info. I’m somewhat new. Two questions please:

    1. Do you assign each of the 5 tiers to a separate ad set. In other words, US and Canada is one ad set.
    Australia, Denmark, etc. is another ad set and so on?

    2. Do you set a fix amount for a daily budget, say $40.00, and then let FB divvy it up between the ad sets.
    Or, do you split up the $40, yourself, and assign a portion of the $40 to each one.

    Thanks much,

    Phil K.

    1. Thanks for the questions Phil!

      Yes, each of the tiers get their own ad set. You have to assign the budget to each ad set yourself, or else Facebook will optimize for the cheapest conversions, most likely in the lowest tier.

  5. Hi everybody,

    I’m relatively new to this. So making the first steps in FB ads is a bit overwhelming at times. I am targeting a selection of different tier countrys in all my ad sets. I have droped some countrys that didn’t bring me the expectet results. In all my ad sets I use only a single ad target + spotify as I have learned it from John Golds Spotify Growth Engine. It makes some sense to find out which ones work best I guess. So is it reasonable to test this first before I run ad sets by tier countrys?

    1. Hey Roger! So sorry for the delay. My site stopped sending me email notifications.

      Glad to hear you’ve worked through Spotify Growth Engine! You may have already gotten your answer through their Facebook group but I’ll attempt to answer it anyway.

      The danger of using a single ad set is that all your conversions are going to go to the cheapest country, usually India if you include it. The point of using tiers is to spread your budget around to different countries. If you just want the cheapest conversions, which I believe is what SGE mostly focuses on, you don’t need to use tiers at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.