- Growth Catalyst Club
- What I Learned From Spending Over $6M on Facebook Ads Since 2019
What I Learned From Spending Over $6M on Facebook Ads Since 2019
Reading time: 4 minutes
(meme shamelessly stolen)
I remember the early days of advertising on Meta. 5-6 years ago literally anyone who had a somewhat decent product could crush it.
The US is a place where many people are addicted to shopping. Credit cards reward your purchasing behavior, and it becomes very easy to buy with digital money.
Anywho, back in 2019, all of the FB advertising was about media buying or "hacking the ads manager". That is:
Testing interests(5-30 per campaign)
Creating lookalikes from followers, website visitors, purchases, email lists, etc.
Sophisticated retargeting strategies with 30 different ad sets in one retargeting campaign
Complicated bidding strategies with bid caps to win the auction.
Back then, some were able to scale from $10k a month to $200k a month in under 1 year.
There was largely no focus on testing creatives. Some just tested 1 to 5 ads per month. And that’s it.
Then in 2020… IOS 14 Happened
This update wiped performance across all accounts like no other.
Everyone (including META shareholders) thought that this was the death of Facebook ads.
Companies were switching agencies left and right. Every 2-3 months…
Media buying as we knew it has come to an end.
I remember 2020-2021 when I spent most of the time figuring out attribution.
Trying out offline conversions, different 3rd party attribution tools, UTMs, and sophisticated AI Marketing Mix Modelling.
Doing everything to prove Facebook Ads perform better than what Ads Manager says.
How I advertise on Facebook now.
Fast forward to 2022-2023, Meta has magically figured out the algorithm, and the targeting is done on the creative level now.
Now, you can literally use a “broad” audience, and as long your performance goal is what you actually want, and when you can feed their algorithm enough events, their algorithm will do its own targeting.
Although interests can be still more effective for new ad accounts even then FB still uses “broad” to expand the audience.
5 years ago you could have 10-30 campaigns running simultaneously, testing campaigns and scaling campaigns, $5 ad sets, and all other crazy stuff.
These days, that stopped working for the most part.
Now, you’d want to have only 1 campaign for each audience/pain point and keep testing inside that campaign.
If you have multiple offers(products), you can test them within those campaigns and then separate them into different campaigns because Meta tends to allocate 90% of the budget where the algorithm thinks it’s best to allocate the budget.
If you’re running ads where you can’t assess the quality of the conversions early on(like lead ads), you want to test different creative types in different campaigns.
Optimization event (conversion event)
The biggest Facebook Ads mistake I see newbies make is picking the wrong objective (link clicks/traffic). Something totally not relevant to what they want to achieve.
This is arguably the most important part of running ads on Meta.
See, Meta is a giant machine-learning algorithm that has a ton of data on the audience including what actions people take.
When you’re giving Meta a goal of what conversion event to optimize for, Meta will go ahead and find people who took similar actions or were close to taking similar actions to your optimization event for similar offers.
For example, if you saw a Nike ad and clicked on their “shop now” ad, you will likely get more similar ads from Adidas.
Optimization events can be very tricky with longer “sales cycles” products like B2B software for example or high ticket coaching offers.
When this is the case, you can:
A) try to sell them something cheap and still acquire a paying customer.
B) find the highest correlation event in your funnel and optimize for it. e.g. not just lead but booked sales call. (it’s still ok if you don’t get 50 of those per week)
If you see lower-quality leads, add more qualifying questions to your funnel before the conversion event fires. Also make sure your ads speak to your ideal audience(and disqualify unqualified leads).
One of the most important things to win in the auction is competition.
Because the Meta algorithm is designed to care about user experience over your objective as an advertiser, you absolutely must make ads that users engage with/like, and comment under (while following ad guidelines)
The more engagement your ad has (from the relevant audience of course), the cheaper cost per 1000 impressions is (CPM).
I still genuinely get surprised when very stupid simple ads work just because they look like a post from a regular user… No call to action in the video, no promotional text, no links, nothing.
There are simply no best practices.
Right now Facebook ads is all about creatives. Meta pretty much has made the media buyer's job obsolete by allocating its job to its AI.
So since it’s all about creatives, let’s break down 5 types of ads by audience awareness stage:
Unaware ads - ads that take a problem-unaware audience to the problem-aware and your product-aware audience.
Problem-aware - ads that talk to people who know about their problem but not your product.
Solution-aware ads - ads that target people who understand that they have a problem but don't know which solution to choose.
Product aware - ads that target people who understand their problem and also know how that is the way on how to solve their problem but don't know which brand/product to choose.
Most aware - people who already know everything about their problem, how to solve it, what product to choose, they are just waiting for the right time to buy from you.
Sometimes the problem could be “I don’t have this cool trinket yet“ haha.
When I start working on a new account, I analyze the data, competitors, the audience, and what worked/didn’t work in the past.
Based on this data, I typically create a quick strategy and start working on the creatives.
Most advertisers spend too much time in the research phase and it delays important feedback.
One of our first steps is to test 20-100 ads in the first month to understand what messaging, offer, and for what audience hits best.
By doing this, we are able to find winning messages really fast.
Thousands of failed ads produce a few winners.
Then it comes down to creating multiple variations on winning ads. You can come down to 1-3 messages that spend 80% of your daily budget, which you can comfortably scale.
Keep in mind this is just about Meta ads, I'm not talking about what happens after the ad clicks like your upsells, and email flows. (which is highly highly important)
Optimizing the backend and maximizing the customer value over the acquisition/lead generation part is always should be the focus when the front end of the funnel is somewhat working.
Thanks for reading,
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