How to successfully test Facebook ads and find a winning ad set

I recently ran a poll asking people what they’re struggling with most when it comes to Facebook advertising, testing and finding a winning ad set was the answer.

The testing phase can be daunting, there are so many variables involved and 100 experts will tell you 100 different things. The truth is, there is no single right way to execute a successful testing phase.

The most important thing to remember is, do what the data says! You don’t decide what works best, Facebook does. It’s also important to be patient and test as much as your budget will allow. Too often, I see people asking how to scale their ‘winning’ ad set after spending $20 across two days and finding that one ad set is performing slightly better than the others.

Here are my top tips for testing and finding a winning audience:

  1. Initially target logical, well-researched audiences. But don’t put all your eggs in one basket

No matter what you’re selling, there are likely 100s of possible audiences, even when you think there’s not many. However, it is important to start with the audiences that make sense before you get creative, especially with lower budgets. Start with interests directly related to what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling watches, target ‘watches’, ‘Rolex’, ‘horology’ etc. An often overlooked approach is targeting secondary interests. Back to the watch example, secondary interests may include ‘diving’, ‘cars’, ‘golf’ etc. It’s also important to target larger audiences and let Facebook do the work. This is why it’s important to do your research to understand your audience. However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and understand that some of the most logical audiences may underperform while somewhat ‘random’ audiences perform well.

A larger budget will allow you to test more earlier but always start with the most logical audiences.

  1. Use ABO when testing

Opinions differ when it comes to CBO vs ABO for testing, but the general consensus is that ABO is better. This will allow you to ensure an equal budget is allocated to each ad set and accurate testing takes place. CBO can be used later for scaling.

  1. Let ad sets run for at least 5 days before killing them

Facebook takes a while to adjust and needs a few days to optimise. Ad sets can sometimes take up to 4-5 days before they perform well. Killing an ad set after a day or two of poor performance will hinder your testing phase and you may miss out on finding a winning audience. Further to this, I often see people ready to scale after running an ad set for 1-2 days. It’s essential that you let an ad set run for 5 days regardless of its performance.

  1. Test creatives

Audiences are becoming less and less important as Facebook’s AI is improving. Lots of people are reporting that broad audiences are currently working best. 2021 is the year of creatives. It’s essential that your creatives are high quality and that you test copy, creative, headlines, CTA’s etc. It’s also important that new creatives are often introduced so as not to fatigue your audience. This is another area where opinion differs quite a bit. Some experts prefer dynamic ads as it lets Facebook do the work, and others prefer to separate creatives in different ads. The latter is probably the more common opinion but I have seen some highly successful campaigns run with dynamic ads.

  1. Fewer ad sets with a higher budget are better than more ad sets at a lower budget

$5/day is not enough for an ad set to test effectively, especially not in one week. If you have $100/day set aside for testing, you are better off having 5 ad sets with $20/day rather than 10 with $10/day. It may even be better to have 3-4 ad sets instead of 5. This will allow you to test faster and at the end of one week, you will have a better understanding of the quality of an ad set having spent $20-$30/day as opposed to $5-$10/day.

  1. Watch the data closely and learn from it

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to analyse the data and let Facebook do the heavy lifting. Facebook offers a plethora of metrics, use these to your advantage and adjust accordingly.

As mentioned at the start, there is no one technique when it comes to testing. I hope these principles have been valuable and assist with your testing phase.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions, I’ll be sure to answer them!

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