How to Get Predictable Results with Facebook Advertising Using Machine Learning

This is an excerpt of a masterclass presented by Veena Gandhi, Director at Digital Street AU. Connect with Veena on Facebook and Instagram.

Making a profitable business out of Facebook Advertising is difficult when Facebook are constantly changing the algorithm and the interface. So, how do you get consistent results for your clients using Facebook Ads? Facebook have some new machine learning tools that can help you. We are going to look at their Power5, plus some recommended strategies that will help your clients scale and make sure you are delivering great results every time.

Facebook’s Power5

In 2019, Facebook announced the launch of Power5, a group of innovations around Machine Learning that would result in better results for advertisers. The innovations were grouped into 5 areas: Dynamic Ads, Auto Advanced Matching, Account Simplification, Automatic Placements, and CBO – each of which would provide automations around different parts of the advertising process.

Once applied, these 5 elements together would optimize advertising campaigns without you having to lift a finger.

Gone are the days of hacking your way to success; tweaking things until you get the results you are looking for. With the introduction of the Power5, Facebook want to help advertisers to leverage a specific set of automated ad tactics to unlock new phases for growth.

Let’s look at two of the Power5 to see how they can be used to improve Facebook advertising results: Account simplification and Automatic placements.

Account Simplification

When manually creating multiple campaigns, you inevitably see issues such as audience overlap, duplication, redundancy, etc. With account simplification, you are not splitting out your audiences and campaigns into lots of different sets, but grouping everything together into one, reducing the probability for error.

However, if you decide to use simplification tools, Facebook recommends you have a minimum of 100 people visiting your website and feeding data to your pixel, and 1000 people for really optimal results.

So, how does account simplification work and which parts of your account can it be applied to?

  • At the account level, this means using as few structural items (e.g. Campaigns, Ad Sets, etc) as possible. Some of the tools available to help you do this are Multi-language Ads, Dynamic Creative, Multi-Text Options, Catalogue – which now also has acquisition, categories, dynamic formats, etc.
  • At the settings level, simplification means relying on optimization algorithms to deliver the best results through placement, audiences, budget, etc. In fact, the latest studies from Facebook are showing that manual targeting can no longer compete with machine learning – results coming from detailed targeting have a 50% higher cost.

Automatic Placements

Automatic placements are another important component of the Power5. Currently there are 18 placement options for your ads. The top spots are the Facebook news feed, the Instagram news feed, Insta stories, and videos, but a variety of placements can be used for different contexts and different audiences to get optimal results.

Facebook recommends automatic placement for every objective. However, we recommend when running top-of-funnel ads to use this setting selectively in order to ensure you get the most quality traffic. Remove low-quality options e.g. Audience Network and context placement, especially when introducing an ad to a new audience – these are not going to get you noticed.

Automatic placements work perfectly for retargeting campaigns, so save yourself some work and reduce CPC by using automatic placement.

To take a detailed look at some of the other Power5 automations, see the full webinar by signing up to our Insiders program.

Instagram Stories are Where it’s at

Want to know one of the best options around for optimizing your advertising results? Insta Stories are currently one of the best ways to deliver information quickly and showcase your brand or product. Why? Because the platform has 4 million monthly active advertisers* and 500 million users**., making it one of the most popular advertising platforms around.

*as of Jan 2020

**Data from 2019

However, it takes a certain amount of skill to create effective Insta Stories campaigns. Facebook has some recommendations for optimizing your ads:

  • Create for stories first – don’t use the same creative from the feed or use creative from other sources. Stories has its own features, dimensions, context, etc and the creative should be made to fit those parameters.
  • Make the first few seconds count – Stories delivers quick content that needs to make an impact immediately. Studies show that 20% of users switch off if they don’t like the first frame of stories.
  • Mix and match video and static – You can create carousels of both video and static images, this is shown to work better with audiences by keeping them more engaged.
  • Keep attention with speed – This means fast editing on your videos to keep them packed with content.

Find out more tips and tricks for optimizing your stories by accessing the full webinar as part of our Insiders program.

Scaling Your Campaign … Profitably

A common problem marketers face these days is how to scale an ad account profitably. Simply increasing the budget does not always bring the results you were expecting; Facebook’s algorithm needs time so abrupt changes can cause unnecessary losses to your campaign. For profitable scaling, you need to do this in a strategic way. There are a number of ways you can do this depending on your profile.

Vertical Scaling

If you have a small budget and want to scale, vertical scaling is the way to do it. Say you want to increase your budget by a total of 50%; instead of doing it all at once, you would increase it by 15% every one or two days and keep using small increments until your reach your goal.

Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling is about taking your best-performing ad sets and duplicating them. Only use this if you know that your CPA is above average. In addition, you should monitor the ad set daily to ensure the CPA doesn’t go up.

Large Budget Scaling

This is for campaigns spending $400-500 per day, and consists of taking your biggest winners and duplicating them. Set the budget to 5x the target CPA you are spending now, and then monitor the results closely. The first few days there will be a lot of variation while it optimizes, so check in regularly to ensure it doesn’t go too wild.

To find out about some more advanced scaling strategies, including Geo Scaling and Bid Scaling, join our Insiders program where you can access the full webinar.

No matter what your strategy, some of the most important metrics to watch when scaling are: Click-Through-Rate, CPM & CPC, Add-to-Carts, Initiated Checkouts and Purchases.

Almost there … but not quite

Now you’ve applied these techniques and have your campaigns optimized for performance and profitable scaling, but there’s a spanner in the works that isn’t allowing you to get the results you want.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues that might be disrupting your campaigns and how to resolve them.

High CPA

Your client is freaking out because their CPA is through the roof and driving down their ROAS. So, what do you do? A common mistake is to immediately start looking at audiences or ads, but more often than not the issue is with the secondary metrics.

Some of the most common issues to come up are in the conversion rates from Clicks (links) to Conversion, the Clicks (links) to Landing Page Views ratio, the ‘Add to Cart’ to ‘Purchase’ conversion rate, the Ad scent, and the targeting.

Low CTR / High CPC

A low CTR is less than 1%, and a high CPC is more than $1. If one of these is out, then your product may no longer be resonating with your audience.

The first places to look for troubleshooting this issue are the placements, countries, and age groups; your funnel (to make sure it’s working); the audience (ones that were once performing and no longer performing); and audience personas.

For a more in-depth analysis of these issues and how to solve them, see the full webinar.

Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostics

Another way to check your ad performance is by making use of Facebook’s Ad Relevance Diagnostics. Previously, we didn’t have a lot of insight into how Facebook were calculating these scores, but now they give you a breakdown of how your ads are doing in terms of Quality, Engagement and Conversions. In the case of low performance, they also give you the causes and offer some recommendations.

Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostics table

However, you should also use your own judgement and only use these recommendations if your ad is not performing well – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Is the Future Automated?

With Facebook’s machine learning becoming smarter and offering more and more of these automation features, what does this mean for the future of digital advertising? Will there still be a role for Digital Marketing agencies and how will that role evolve?

It is true that Facebook’s automation tools will simplify a lot of the tasks that would typically have been managed by an agency, but that doesn’t mean that the role of the Digital Marketer will become obsolete.  Determining how much to spend on Facebook ads, for example, is still something businesses struggle with.

We also have seen how the rise of Instagram Stories has provided a new advertising arena to learn and explore. Only those with the right creative will succeed, and this is something that cannot currently be carried out by automation tools. In fact, creative diversity is a key factor in being able to fully exploit many of the automation features we have talked about.

As such, the role of the agency in the future is likely to develop into more of a brand partner for content. You will be spending less time on tweaking, monitoring and analyzing, and more time on creating high quality creative content to target different stages of the sales funnel.

To see the full webinar with Facebook Ads expert Veena Gandhi, sign up to our Insiders program.

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