Throughout 2020, businesses had their attention pulled in a million different directions. For most, the goal was simply survival during a global pandemic. As the news of vaccine development spreads positivity around the United States, 2021 looks to be a year of recovery and growth once again. This means we need to pay attention to our marketing strategy and how we can harness the relationships built with customers last year.
For those planning ad campaigns, one of the most important things to remember is the planned ad limit coming to Facebook in February. We know, you’re probably tired of hearing this because the news first broke in November 2019. However, we’re now edging ever closer and businesses need to prepare for how this could impact their marketing strategies at such a sensitive time.
What has Facebook said about the upcoming change? Essentially, it’s explaining to advertisers and businesses why an excessive amount of ads detract from an otherwise successful marketing channel. For those unaware, there’s a danger of having too many ads and delivery slowing down. With too many ads, performance drops for each and not as many can leave the learning phase. Over time, you spend excessive amounts, and you don’t allow the delivery system to learn and optimize performance, a lose-lose scenario.
Within the Facebook ad system, an ad doesn’t just find success automatically. After creating a campaign, you can’t expect a sensational response within the first few days. Instead, the delivery system learns about your ad and the conditions it needs to thrive. Essentially, Facebook is testing the market, gauging the response of audiences, and comparing results to the goals of your campaign.
Appropriately called the learning phase, Facebook is investigating your ad and the impact it can have on the chosen audience. During this time, CPA is sometimes poor, and stability is also a problem. If you’ve created a new ad set or ad, you can expect the learning phase to take place immediately after. Also, the learning phase occurs when you make significant changes to an ad. If you’ve ever been told to leave an ad alone after creating it, this is exactly why. If you make big changes every other day, Facebook can never truly learn about the ad and how to place it for great results.
When businesses use Facebook for the first time, they’re completely unaware of this learning phase. In fact, some see that performance isn’t up to par in the early stages and think that Facebook advertising is flawed. In reality, they just need to give the system time to learn how to optimize performance. While some leave Facebook entirely, others go on an ad creation spree and have lots of new ads cluttering up the system. Facebook says that this is where the problems lie because they never get past the initial learning phase.
According to Facebook, around 40% of all ads never leave the learning phase. Although there are other reasons to blame for this problem, advertisers launching too many new ads is one of the biggest. Therefore, Pages will now have a limit on how many ads they can run at any one time.
While on this topic, we want to touch on Facebook’s own motivations. Why would the company want to limit ads when it receives endless heaps of money from the practice? Well, it seems there’s a war between revenue and reputation. It does earn money from all ads, but poor results discourage marketers from using the platform. The extra revenue gained from allowing advertisers too many ads is outweighed by the negative impact of businesses avoiding Facebook as an advertising solution.
By limiting ads, they achieve stronger results because more campaigns leave the learning phase. The reputation of the platform improves, and more marketers join while existing users increase their usage.
Do these changes from Facebook mean that you’re now limited in your capabilities as a business or marketer? Probably not. Essentially, all advertisers will now fall into one of four segments based on advertising spend and overall size. You don’t have to do anything yourself; instead, it’s all based on your highest spend in a specific month. This is great news because it means Facebook isn’t judging individual accounts.
How much have you spent over the last 12 months? What was the busiest month? These are the critical questions, and the groups are as follows:
As mentioned, everything is based on the previous 12 months. To determine how many ads your account is allowed, look at the previous 12 months and find the one with the largest ad spend. Then, see where it falls in the categories above. For example, an ad spend of $400k means you’ll have access to 1,000 ads while an ad spend of $2.6 million means you’ll get 5,000 ads.
Using the same criteria above, the four categories are labelled like so:
If you aren’t sure in which category you fall, head into the Ads Manager because this will now contain an Ad Limits Per Page section. There’s likely to be confusion in the weeks ahead, but Facebook is attempting to clear these problems. For example, it said that users can set limits when a Page uses several different ad accounts. By setting limits, you prevent using too many with one ad account and restricting access for another.
We’ve seen plenty of advertisers panicking about these new rules; they wonder how the rules will impact existing campaigns and how their strategy might be affected in going forward. In reality, we can see above that the ad limits are fairly reasonable for businesses of all sizes. Even if you spent less than $100k in the busiest month over the last 12, it’s still possible to run up to 250 different ads. Therefore, we predict that most businesses won’t encounter any issues.
Who will it affect? Well, there’s a danger it could limit multinational corporations and other large brands that have seemingly limitless budgets. That said, with the clever design of the tiered system those who want more ads in their category will probably spend enough to move up into the next one soon enough anyway.
For the most part, businesses won’t have to change much about their account before the February deadline. However, it’s worth reviewing your account just to be sure. For instance, those who like to advertise their latest offers and generate lots of ads around these periods will need to plan carefully.
With the implementation in February, now is the time to act. Some advertisers will try to bypass the rules, and we’re here to report that this won’t work. Facebook has already warned that businesses creating a second Page will experience decreased performance. Why? For one thing, the two pages would actually compete against each other. If you enjoy success on one Page, it will come at the cost of the other’s results. In ad auctions, you probably have enough trouble with actual competitors without adding one of your own making.
Additionally, you’ll need to split your time between both pages because both impact brand image and reputation. You’re also confusing the algorithm because you’re separating learnings rather than having a master data set combined in one. Facebook doesn’t need to create punishments for businesses who create a second Page because these will occur on their own with poor performance and wasted marketing budget.
Optimization for Facebook
For a while, it seemed that Facebook was happy to keep adding all sorts of features to its advertising platform, but many advertisers found this overwhelming. Now, there’s been a shift in strategy from expansion to consolidation. In addition to the new ad limit, Facebook has removed targeting categories that weren’t utilized by users.
Also, rather than making the choice on their own, there's increased reliance on the Facebook algorithm choosing a niche target audience for marketers. For some, they have earned excellent results from just choosing an optimization goal and not much else. Even with limited targeting, the algorithm is generating positive results, and this could lead to further consolidation for the platform. There’s never been a more important time to keep an eye on Facebook advertising news!
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