Running Facebook advertising campaigns is challenging. It can be stressful, exciting, disappointing and satisfying, depending on how the campaign is going. Even if you are only an advertiser and it’s not your money being spent, every dollar spent without profit ticks your brain. The pursuit to find the winning formula never ends. The question of how to measure results and optimize ads leaves many advertisers uncertain.
One common practice of optimizing ads is optimizing daily and measuring strictly by same-day results. This means that you will increase/decrease your budgets, pause and turn on campaigns and increase bids strictly based on how your campaigns performed today. Before going into detail, it’s important to understand the logic and concept of Facebook ads and examine the following questions. If we can’t target people based on keywords or search terms or intent (at least not effectively), should we expect people to take action the same day they click on our ad? One day is only 24 hours. What if someone converts the next day? Or perhaps it takes two or three days to convert through an email or a return visit. What do we gain by shutting off or changing ads based on how they performed today? Is a campaign’s success measured by how it performed today or by how it performed overall since it started? Lastly, can you measure and summarize your business based on one day of performance? If not, why should you evaluate your campaigns daily?
Facebook Ads and their optimization algorithm are based on the marathon approach, which means that campaigns are optimized based on past performance and are impacted heavily by previous days. Every day the optimization will revisit yesterday’s data and will make new predictions and changes to try to improve future performance. Facebook ads are not designed to work effectively in a single day, that’s why editing them and pausing them daily will harm your campaign’s performance. In order to better understand this concept, it’s important to understand how Facebook attributes and tracks sales.
You can read the complete info from Facebook about how they attribute conversions here. Facebook will track users for 28 days after they click or view an ad. As long as an ad “drives” a user to purchase based on clicking on it or viewing it, Facebook will associate that conversion with the ad. The attribution works based on the last touch model where the last ad that interacted with the user will get the credit (even if other ads engaged with the users first). You can view your account’s default attribution settings here –
It makes complete sense – if Facebook is designed to track results for up to 28 days, your campaigns shouldn’t be optimized based on one day of performance.
Optimize by longer time frames.
While most advanced marketers and the marketing officials at Facebook agree that you should optimize based on longer time frames, no one has been able to provide the most accurate time frames to optimize ads with evidence to back it up. My personal recommendation is based on my previous experience and what I have found to work best.I optimize my accounts based on between six and nine days of performance depending on the ad account. There are a lot of variables that could have dramatic effects on the performance of the campaigns. I will give you a few examples. Let’s say your campaign has been doing really well for the past few weeks and was promoting your top sellers. Then one of these top sellers will sell out and your campaign performance will drop immediately as people won’t be able to purchase the product. The conversion rate of the ad will drop, and so will the performance. Other examples that can impact your performance and might require earlier attention can be price changes of your product, negative comments on ads, or offsite website changes that can impact conversion rate. When one of these examples might be relevant to an ad account that I manage, I will still optimize based on the six to nine-day method, but I will use the last few days as a reference for upward or downward performance trends to impact the type of changes I make.
Three, Seven, 30 days optimization method –
Optimizing strictly based on six to nine days leaves you open to the possibility of looking at just a part of the picture. If your campaigns have performed well for the last two weeks but had a few bad days that resulted in bad performance based on a six to nine-day view, should you turn off your ads? What if in the last six to nine days your campaigns started to show positive signs, but based on the last three weeks you lost money? How should you proceed? Should you increase your bid?
I developed a simple method to provide an answer to these questions. When I optimize ads, I evaluate three time frames, the last three days, the last seven days, and the last 30 days. The idea here is simple. Seven days will be your main time frame to optimize and your main indicator for making a change, and three and 30 days will be reference points.
Look for up and down trends of performance. These will help you decide if and how you should increase your spend. If you evaluate all three time frames and your campaigns show uptrends, increase aggressively. If the three-day time frames show a downtrend, refrain from increasing your bids and budgets. If the three-day time frame is trending up, increase your bids while evaluating the seven and 30 day performance.
Ideally, this method works best with large advertisers who run long-term campaigns and evaluate their campaigns based on longer time frames to maximize their budgets and performance. The longer the time frames you are evaluating, the easier it will be to scale your spend and generate growth.
How do you measure the success of a campaign?
The discussion of when and based on what time frame to optimize your ads also raises the question of how and what length do you measure the success of campaigns? Is it based on one day? One week? One month? A lifetime? If you turn off a campaign after one bad week despite it being profitable on a lifetime basis, shouldn’t it be resumed?
On traditional marketing methods like TV or newspaper ads, you would never even think about measuring daily or sometimes weekly performance as it wouldn’t be possible. They strictly measure the total cost per their marketing campaign and the total estimated revenue generated. I believe that’s a proper way to measure a campaign from start to finish, yet I enjoy the benefits of being able to stop a campaign once performance starts to drop. But what if I didn’t stop it? Perhaps it would go back up? Maybe that’s one of the issues with all the overwhelming data that we are exposed too as modern advertisers. Maybe if we would not analyze every hour and every day, we would be more successful advertisers.
The methods of optimizing ads vary between advertisers. Most experts agree that when advertising on Facebook, you should evaluate longer time frames and should not optimize by one day. Optimizing campaigns based on one day is irrelevant and works against the basic logic of using Facebook ads. I recommend optimizing your campaigns based on six to nine days for better performance. There are different methods to evaluate and optimize your ads that may depend on your advertising budget and goals. Large spend campaigns normally optimize based on longer time frames which allows them to scale easily and achieve campaign growth. The question of whether a campaign’s success should be measured on a lifetime basis or a recency basis remains unsolved by many advertisers including myself. Perhaps the drawback of too much information in modern advertising leads to over-optimization.