Over the last two years my team and I have seen Facebook push AI more and more.
Essentially, Facebook doesn’t even want you managing your ads. They’d prefer that you load it, set it, and forget it while their algorithm does all the work to identify and optimize winning ads.
While that doesn’t fully work right now, the more control that you do give Facebook, the more you’ll be rewarded.
In today’s episode of the Not For Lazy Marketers Podcast, I’m sharing more about Facebook’s recent push to AI, and how you can improve your ad performance by aligning your marketing strategy with their goal and utilizing features like:
- Campaign Budget Optimization
- Automatic Placement
- Dynamic Creative
No matter what platform you’re on, if you pay attention to their deeper level goals and align your content and strategies with that, you will always win.
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Hello my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you guys are doing fabulous, having a Happy Tuesday if you’re listening when this is released, or whenever it’s released having a great day. We’re in the middle of quarter two, it’s so crazy. I look back at everything my team, we just did our monthly planning for the new month and then rolled it out to our team. We always share what we’re working on this month for our team, and it’s pretty incredible. I have a really solid, big leadership team now. So I have five different department heads and they all get to present what they’re working on this month to our team, and it’s really amazing when you hear it all. Then we actually do get it all done. It’s incredible when the team is all on the same page, working towards these awesome projects.
So today in the podcast, I’m going to dive into Facebook and it’s push to AI, basically automatic learning and how Facebook is really pushing this right now. We are noticing it, especially with the iOS updates, but really Facebook has been pushing this for the last two years. The recent updates that have happened with iOS are really some of the biggest since they switched to campaign budget optimization, which I think was about two years ago, year and a half ago. Our team has been talking a lot about Facebook’s motives for advertisers, what they want, and the direction that they’re going.
One thing when you’re marketing that I’ve talked about a little bit, but it’s just an important reminder, is no matter what platform you’re on, if you can align yourselves with the goal of that specific platform, and really think that there are dozens of people that are sitting behind the scenes for this platform talking about their goals, what they want to do with the software, what they want their users to be doing, what they’re going to reward advertisers for versus not, what they’re going to reward engagement for versus not. There are people who sit there and actually plan those things out. So if you pay attention to what is happening and the deeper level goal of the platform, and then you align your content and your strategies with that, you’ll just win better, right? Because there are things that these platforms are going to reward you for, whether that’s organic, whether that is paid advertising. They’re going to reward you if you’re following along with their agenda.
One thing that’s been very obvious is Facebook has pushed more and more into they want you to just hand them money and they control your ads. So essentially they actually don’t want anybody managing ads, they just want you to load it, set it ,and forget it. Which as of now doesn’t fully work, but there are little things that do really matter in terms of how you set your ads up to align with this. I’ve talked about those, especially this year, we’ve seen a big shift where, for example, campaign budget optimization, that means you set up your ad, you set your daily budget, and Facebook spends it in whatever ad sets it thinks are going to do the best. You’re giving Facebook that trust.
Dynamic creative, same thing. You load in all the different versions of your creative, Facebook chooses the combinations and versions it wants to run with and the algorithm thinks it’s going to do best with. Then it runs it and it puts the budget where that machine learning is telling it to put it. Same thing with automatic placement. You select automatic placement and Facebook isn’t going to evenly spread your budget across all the placements, which sometimes is what people think. They’re going to put your budget where it’s going to go convert, which most likely is mobile newsfeed, Facebook and Instagram newsfeed, and not audience network and things like that. In the last year, those are all components that we’ve seen work best. I think it also makes marketers and entrepreneurs out there, especially if you’re running your own ads, nervous because it is taking away the control from you. That is what Facebook wants, and that is the direction we are going in, so you need to try to align yourself with that in a strategic way.
So I want to talk about what I mean with that, but with this most recent update with Facebook, one thing we’re starting to see is Facebook is actually taking away some of the data they’ve been giving us. For example, when you run dynamic creative, you can go in and see what versions did best so that you can make those decisions in the next ads that you actually put out. Well, we’re actually seeing in some of our accounts, we can’t even see that data anymore. Facebook has taken away that data where they’re not telling us what versions within the dynamic creative are actually doing better, which is unfortunate because that does suck because you want to see what creative does better. You might be able to tell by looking at what notifications you’re getting on your page and what kind of creative versions that’s going to, but you can’t see the actual conversions associated with those creative versions.
As Facebook takes away this information and as Facebook makes you basically lean on their algorithms and their machine learning, then it’s going to open up more and more potential for softwares to come in and fill this gap. That’s going to happen, and there are softwares that we have been exploring, possibly an internal one, but I can’t talk about it yet, but I’m going to just possibly, hypothetically, in the future that could be something. Because this is happening, right? So marketers and business owners are going to have to adapt as Facebook does this.
As you run your ads, make sure that you align with that goal so that you are choosing campaign budget optimization, and then you’re not trying to over those campaigns. You’re not trying to turn it off and add new ones too much to the point where Facebook will start to penalize your optimization. You can turn off some campaigns, but really what Facebook wants is, you run the campaign budget optimization campaign, they separate your budget out within the ad sets, and if an ad set isn’t converting, they won’t put budget towards it. That’s kind of how they see it, and I do see it play out like that. So watch for that, because there’s some times where you don’t need to turn off an ad set if the budget isn’t even being spent there, because you could risk turning that off and then potentially it messes up your algorithm.
Now my team definitely still has informed me that they go in and have to make these changes. So the thing is anything with AI learning, and machines, and algorithms, they’re not perfect, right? They don’t have that critical thinking. They’re trying to get it there and Facebook’s trying to get it there, but they don’t have the critical thinking that a human can do. So I think where the magic happens is when you can utilize Facebook’s algorithms and the information it has on its users that it does not share with us in an open way at all. But its algorithms allow you to take that to the advantage with your critical thinking.
The way that could look with campaign budget optimization is you run an initial campaign. You let it sit for at least three days. You don’t mess with it. You let Facebook do its thing. Then once you see what audiences are doing better, you keep that campaign on and you go start a new campaign with those winning audiences. That way you have a little bit of control over it, but you’re not trying to overpower it and go against it, because if you go against Facebook, you will lose, right? Facebook is way more powerful than an individual business owner.
So then if we look at automatic placement. In most cases, we select automatic placement for our clients and we’ve seen that do better. Now what’s crazy is if you asked me this exact question two or three years ago, it was the opposite. So they’ve changed it. My theory is because their algorithms and their machine learning has gotten better. So three years ago, they still probably wanted you to select automatic placement. That’s why they had it there, but now when you select it, it actually works and they actually get good results with it they’re able to understand where to put the budget. Three years ago, they were not as good at that, right? So then we had to control that as an advertiser and we would do manual placement.
When I first started running ads, I ran everything almost manual placement, and even tried to control only cell phones see it. So there’s options that they allow where you can only have people on mobile phones see it, or at certain times a day, and your ads can turn off and on. I was recently asked a question, should I try that? And of course you can always try something and see if it works or doesn’t work, but in most cases that’s not going to work. It’s these things that are in theory sound really great like, “ well, if my ads don’t convert on a Saturday, I’ll just have Facebook automatically turn them off on a Saturday.” In theory, sounds great. Always, almost always messes up the algorithm.
So my recommendation is really no, not to do those things. I think over time, Facebook’s just going to keep removing even having those options in the ad account, because they just don’t want that. They don’t want to have that option. They really want you to be able to like set up your ads and let it sit, and it just runs, which they’re far off from that. I don’t know if that will ever be possible, but that is what Facebook wants. So we’re going to align ourselves with that want.
If we look at automatic placement, that’s another way, I would select automatic placement. Now that doesn’t mean if you have creative that’s meant for only mobile that you have to then have a separate campaign that selects mobile. Most likely, Facebook’s going to put your ad that you have creative made for mobile on mobile devices, and that’s where they’re going to put the budget. So you have to have a little trust there and try that out.
Then the other thing is, if those stories ads where they’re not actually story size and you see them in the story now, I used to say, because this was true a while ago, that didn’t do well because it was so obvious that it was an advertisement. But those work now. So we do a mix of uploading creative that’s for specific Instagram story size or whatnot. And you can do that, but then also, we will just do automatic placement and let Facebook kind of choose and that does work. At the end of the day, if it’s converting, if it’s working, if it’s meeting your cost per result goals, then why would you mess with it? You know? You have to ask yourself that, your preference over what is working and converting, what’s working and converting should come first. Right? Okay.
Then we get into dynamic creative, and we look at, okay, uploading all these creative versions and Facebook puts out what it wants. It puts the budget where it thinks you’re getting the most engagement, or it’s going to be best for its users and convert the best. Now for the most part, dynamic creative works. The one downside with dynamic creative that I hope Facebook fixes in the near future is the social proof. Because when someone, when you create dynamic creative, it creates all these versions of your ads because you have all these different combinations. Then in every ad set, it’s, it’s different. So you really end up with like hundreds of versions of your ads. Where the strategy used to be you would create one and then you’d pull that posts ID from that one ad, and then you put that in all the rest of your ad sets. You can’t do that with dynamic creative.
I wish Facebook would figure out how to marry those things because social proof is still really valuable. I think they will come up with a solution to that in the future, but until they do, sometimes we will run dynamic creative at first and then we’ll choose page post ID to run in the future campaigns. Because that social proof does make a difference, especially when you’re running product e-commerce ads, or straight to a self-liquidating offer, like product ads. It just gives you that more credibility. So that’s a way that dynamic creative is relatively new. I think that they haven’t mastered it, Facebook.
Same thing, like how I’m saying two, three years ago, they wanted you to select automatic placement, but it didn’t actually convert better. And now they want you to select dynamic creative, and we do see that it does get favored in the algorithm. In a lot of cases, it does do better, but I still recommend testing those page post ID methods where you pull that page post ID, which means then it’s the same ad. So if someone comments on it across all your ads in your ad sets that those comments are going to show all accumulated together and you’re going to have that social proof. Sometimes that still works better.
So Facebook has not mastered dynamic creative in the sense that it’s like every single time, pretty much it works better. We have often used a combo of it, and that is something now as Facebook starts to take away, if they are, cause we’re seeing this in some accounts, they’re taking away the reporting of what dynamic creative is converting better. They’re just removing some of the intel of like male versus female in that intel that you get in your advertising in the backend of your ads. That’s a bummer because that is helpful. So you’re going to have to adapt to that, but it just also shows with the iOS updates, with these changes with everything Facebook’s doing, they are pushing to this AI, to this automatic machine, algorithm based decisions on the backend.
So as a marketer, whenever you are an entrepreneur running your Facebook ads, whenever you are creating them and you come across a decision you have to make on, do I do automatic placement or do I not? Remember that the motive is Facebook wants you to trust their algorithm, and Facebook wants you to give them the power control. So you need to try to align your strategies with that, and knowing that will be helpful when you go to set up your ads. Especially when you have to wait now three days really to see how it’s doing. You used to be able to see a lot faster how your Facebook ads were doing, but now with campaign budget optimization, you really have to see for three days before typically we recommend making any changes.
Then when you’re optimizing your ads, you have to remember this, there are still actions you should be taking, like creating new campaigns with new audiences, turning off one campaign that’s not working and putting budget into another, creating new ad. But a lot of it, you have to also remember in the optimizing that giving Facebook the power, and trusting its algorithm, and not trying to over control exactly where your budget’s being spent. Or, I just had someone recently ask me a question around, “well, we noticed that Facebook is not putting as much budget as we want on Instagram ads when we select automatic placement. So what should we do?” Or does that mean our ads are just not good enough for Instagram?” And my answer was Facebook’s putting that budget where it thinks your ads are going to do the best.
Now, if you want to compare and just make sure Facebook is doing it right, create a campaign, select Instagram as the only placement, and then compare your costs. That’s how you’re going to for sure know, but chances are your ads are going to do best in that automatic placement. You just can’t control that Facebook’s deciding that people on Facebook are gonna respond to your ad more than Instagram. And how they split that budget is really supposed to depend on your audience, and your ads, and the interactions that your ads get, and that AI learning.
So when you go to optimize your ads, remembering that might help you with making decisions on what to do. It doesn’t mean just set your ads and let them sit there and Facebook will do a great job. That’d be cool, honestly, if we could get to that point. I don’t think we ever will, because also, especially for our niche and these businesses that are spending… if you’re spending less than a million dollars a month, you’re a little advertiser to Facebook and they don’t really care as much as about those advertisers. So a lot of what they’re doing is trying to make it easier for those big advertisers, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to a place where it’s fully automated. But that’s where Facebook wants us to go. So if you align yourself with their goals, it will make your campaigns more profitable and more successful.
All right you guys, thanks so much for listening. I always love to update you on what is happening on Facebook, what we’re seeing. Our team has lots of conversations about this, and I try to be the real source of data. I’ve gotten some messages of people that were like, thank you for not fear-mongering with the iOS updates. Which I think there is a lot of fear out there with it, and I just want to say if you feel at all that hesitation and that fear, and you’re not sure about marketing and the iOS updates and Facebook ads, this is just going to become the new normal. A lot of times people hyper focus in on one platform making the changes, and then they don’t actually see that it’s happening across the board. So just also remember if Facebook is doing something, they’re the category king of social media and the other sites, for the most part, not with a hundred percent of things, but the other social media sites and platforms are going to follow Facebook because Facebook is the category king and they are going to do what is usually going to be the future and the goals of the future.
So staying on top of that, and the iOS update is an iOS update. That means every app, every platform is all impacted, and you have to, as a business owner, adapt and be like, “okay, so what does this actually mean and what are the solutions and actions I need to take?” So break it down from like… cause I’ve seen ads out there of people trying to scare people and they’re like, you better jump over to YouTube ads, or you better do this instead, or you need to know this on your Facebook ads. And honestly, they’re just sharing to use it to promote their business. At the end of the day, just keep that in mind and look at the source it’s coming from, but just remember that you need to continue to look at the data. You need to pay attention to the facts. And then you just need to ask yourself what are the actual actions I have to take as a business. Because it’s probably less than you think or have created in your head because of the noise on social media. Which is why I stay off social media a lot of times, because that’s what it is, noise. You need to focus on your business, but that’s another story. Thanks so much for listening today guys, I’ll talk to you next week.
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