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March 4, 2024 in

Systematically Testing with Facebook Ads

Testing Facebook Ads

The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas on how to systematically test products, targeting, demographics and creatives with Facebook Ads. Using these basic strategies can potentially save you a lot of time and money in the future. In this post I outline 4 common scenarios businesses find themselves in when running FB ads and some basic strategies on how to test.

It is absolutely crucial that you take a rigorous and systematic approach to testing different products, creative and targeting options in Facebook Ads, especially when you are first starting out. Running campaigns with no testing goal in mind is a sure fire way to waste a lot of money on Facebook Ads. (and make Zuck even more rich.) None of these strategies guarantee good results so test at your own risk.

Note: For these examples, I will be using Sales campaigns but this works with other campaign types as well. It is important that when you are testing creatives, products, targeting, campaign types, etc – you need to keep everything else constant and just change 1 variable. This will give you insight into how that 1 variable change affects your overall performance.

Example: if you are testing different targeting options in a Sales CBO (aka advantage campaign budget) campaign, make sure that the ads (creative, text, description, cta, everything) in each ad set are exactly the same. The only thing that would be different is the targeting/demographic selection at the ad set level.

Scenario #1: You have many different products and product categories. You are trying to find a winning product category. Think of a large e-commerce brand with many different types of products.

 

Note: Advantage+ tends to work better with ad accounts with past sales data. But it is worth a test for new ad accounts as well. You can also test this approach with a manual sales CBO campaign with interest targeting if you ad account is new and has no past sales data.

  • Advantage+ Shopping Campaign

    • Ad #1 – Product Category 1 – Catalog, Image, Video, etc

    • Ad #2 – Product Category 2 – Catalog, Image, Video, etc

    • Ad #3 – Product Category 3 – Catalog, Image, Video, etc

and so on…

Steps

  1. Create a Sales Campaign > Advantage+ Shopping Campaign

  2. Create your first ad and use either a catalog, carousel, image or video of product category 1

  3. Click the “…” next to your first ad, click quickly duplicate

  4. Create your next ad and use either a catalog, carousel, image or video of product category 2

Try to keep the creative and copy similar across all the ads. Don’t do a carousel on ad 1, video on ad 2, and then a single image on ad 3. Do all single images, or all videos, or all catalogs to keep it consistent. FB tends to spend towards videos and catalogs if they are mixed in with image ads. When everything looks good, hit publish. You need to give Facebook a daily budget that is large enough to give you data on what you are testing. Keep in mind that the more ad sets and ads you do, the more your budget will be divided up amongst the ads. Schedule campaigns for the next day at 6:00 AM for better budget distribution. The ad starts its optimization as people are logging onto FB.

Optimization: Facebook’s algorithm will start to favor 1 or 2 of your ads (product categories). Keep an eye on your key metrics like Spend, Unique CTR, Unique CPC, Adds to Carts, Initiate Checkouts, Purchases and Purchase ROAS. After some time if you notice some lower performing ads, you can close those and Adv+ will redistribute the remaining budget to the ads with better metrics. After 24 – 72 hours, you can consider the ad with the most sales your winning product category. Use this product category in your next campaign where you will test creative, targeting, demographics and more.

Scenario #2: You know your best selling products and you know what targeting options work well. You want to test many creatives for your winning product.

 

Note: This is a good option if you have many creatives to test.

  • CBO Campaign | Dynamic Creative Test

    • Winning Targeting from previous tests

      • Ad #1 – Winning Product from previous tests – dynamic creative

Steps

  1. Create a Sales Campaign > Manual Sales Campaign > Turn on Advantage Campaign Budget (aka CBO). *This allows you to conveniently see the budget at the campaign level and has no difference to an ABO because there is only 1 ad set.

  2. In the Ad Set level, turn on Dynamic Creative. Input your targeting options and demographics that have performed well in the past.

  3. On the ad level, add up to 10 images or videos, 5 primary texts, 5 headlines, and 5 descriptions.Let the ad run for 24-72 hours. After some time, navigate to the ad level (see below). In the top right, Click Breakdown > Dynamic Creative Element Type > Image, Video & Slideshow or Text. Sort by amount spent. You can consider the one that received the most spend and most sales as your winner.

Scenario #3: You know your best selling products and you know what targeting options work well. You want to test a few creatives for your winning product.

  • CBO Campaign

    • Winning Targeting from previous test

      • Ad #1

      • Ad #2

      • Ad #3

      • Ad #4

Steps

  1. Create a Sales Campaign > Manual Sales Campaign > Turn on Advantage Campaign Budget (aka CBO)

  2. In the Ad Set level, input your targeting options and demographics that have performed well in the past.

  3. On the ad level, create one ad with 1 picture/video/carousel/catalog, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions, and 5 primary texts. Double check its correct before proceeding to the next step.

  4. Quickly Duplicate the ad by clicking on the “…” next to the ad on the left sidebar.

  5. Simply replace the picture/video/carousel/catalog for the newly duplicated ad.

  6. Repeat until you have 5 unique ads with the same copy.Let the ad run for 24-72 hours. Inspect the key metrics like Unique CTR, CPC, Adds to Cart, Initiate Checkouts, Purchases, Purchase ROAS, etc. The ads with the highest CTR, lowest CPC, most purchases, most adds to cart and initiate checkouts can be considered your winning ad. Use the breakdown feature > text to see what text, headline, description performed best.

Optimization: Turn off the ads that are not performing well and the remaining budget will be redistributed to the performing ad(s). You can now use this winning combination of targeting and creative/copy in your next ad campaign.

Scenario #4: You know your best selling products but have a new ad account and a new pixel. You have a few creatives to test and you want to find the best targeting/demographics to use. 

 

Note: This campaign structure is great for new ad accounts that don’t have much pixel/conversion API data.

  • CBO Campaign

    • Targeting #1

      • Ad #1

      • Ad #2

      • Ad #3

    • Targeting #2

      • Ad #1

      • Ad #2

      • Ad #3

    • Targeting #3

      • Ad #1

      • Ad #2

      • Ad #3

Steps

  1. Create a Sales Campaign > Manual Sales Campaign > Turn on Advantage Campaign Budget (aka CBO). Since there is more than 1 ad set, each ad set will compete for the budget.

  2. In the Ad Set level, input your first interests/targeting/demographics that you want to test.

  3. On the ad level, create one ad with 1 picture/video/carousel/catalog, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions, and 5 primary texts.

  4. Quickly Duplicate the ad by clicking on the “…” next to the ad on the left sidebar.

  5. Simply replace the picture/video/carousel/catalog for the newly duplicated ad.

  6. Repeat until you have 5 unique ads with the same copy.

  7. Double check to make sure all your ads, creative, copy, and links are exactly as you want them before we duplicate.

  8. Quickly Duplicate ad set 1.

  9. On the newly duplicated ad set, change the targeting to the second targeting/demographics you want to test. Keep the ads below it exactly the same.

  10. Duplicate the ad set again, change the targeting on ad set 3.

Note: When doing this strategy, make sure you keep the audience sizes similar. If you do one ad set narrowed by demographics and interests, and another broad, the algo will tend to spend towards broad so the test won’t be that useful. Understand that the more ad sets and ads that you create, the more the budget will be split up between the ad sets and ads. Enabling the CBO option makes the interests compete against each other. Facebook’s algorithm will decide which ad set is the winner and give it most of the spend.

Optimization: After 24-72 hours, inspect the metrics for each ad set. Close the low performing ad sets and keep the performing ad sets. Understand that this will liberate the budget to the remaining ad sets. If you close many ad sets, it could disrupt the balance of the overall campaign because it will force the remaining ad sets to spend more when they may not want to. You can offset this by lowering the campaigns budget slightly. You can inspect the metrics for the ads as well and close any low performing ads.

I found a winning combination of targeting and creative, now what?

Here is a lesson I have learned many times over the years: If something is working, do not touch it. Do not update anything inside the ad campaign. The only thing you should do is start to scale it up every 3-4 days (vertical scaling). You can also duplicate the campaign (horizontal scaling) and use only the winning ads and targeting and see if you can replicate the results.

Bonus Scenario #5: You can take these strategies 1 step further and do what Konstantinos Doulgeridis refers to as the Crazy Method for scaling.

  • CBO

    • Winning Targeting

      • Winning Ad 1

      • Winning Ad 2

      • Winning Ad 3

    • Duplicate of Ad set above

      • Duplicate of Ad 1

      • Duplicate of Ad 2

      • Duplicate of Ad 3

    • Duplicate of Ad set above

      • Duplicate of Ad 1

      • Duplicate of Ad 2

      • Duplicate of Ad 3

This CBO strategy takes all of your best performing targeting, creative and copy and has it compete against each other in the same audience. This works best with a large/broad audience. This will give you multiple opportunities for your ads to optimize well. Each ad will first start to optimize off of the engagement the ad receives, then the sales. If your ad gets one of its first sales by a person that fits the avatar of your ideal customer, the ad will start to optimize based on them and find people just like them and start to produce good results. This ad will form a “hot pocket” inside the broader audience (targeting) that you selected and will generally produce good results for you. Some of the ad sets will get a 1 off sale from someone who is not your ideal customer or no sales at all. These won’t perform that well. Close these and liberate the budget to the remaining winning ad sets. *Optimize this the same way I described in scenario #4.

As long as the results are good, I would not worry too much about audience overlap unless you are spending at least $100-300k per month on the same audience (or if the audience is extremely small). If you are spending a lot on the same audience and are seeing a dip in results, you could try a new Crazy method campaign with different creative. This method works wonders in practice today and although somewhat counter-intuitive is extremely powerful.

TLDR

Systematically testing is a crucial part of figuring out what works and what doesn’t in your ad account. If you aren’t strategic with your testing, it’s like blindly throwing darts with the hope that you will hit the bullseye. If you are strategic with your testing, you will sooner or later find a winning combination of products, creative and targeting that will start to generate a return for your business. Do yourself and your business a favor by spending your money wisely on Facebook Ads. Good luck!

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