Has your Facebook ad performance dipped? Maybe your ads never achieved your desired outcome like increased ecommerce sales or lead generation. Facebook ads performance can drop off — or never take off at all for a variety of factors, but one of the most crucial is your ad creative (copy, images, and video). Across our clients, Tuff manages anywhere from $50,000 – $100,000 / month in Facebook ad spend. This article pulls from this experience and outlines six factors we’ve identified that can indicate it’s time to update your Facebook ads creative.
If you don’t have the time to read these detailed explanations, here’s the tl;dr on when to know it’s time to replace your Facebook ads creative:
- Campaigns costs are going up / objective completion
- Ad frequency is getting high causing dreaded ‘ad fatigue’
- Your ads just didn’t perform in the first place
(note other factors can be at play with this one)
- Facebook ‘Ad Diagnostic’ scores are ‘below average’
- Google Analytics is telling you performance has declined
- You’re not selling more or generating more leads despite an initial bump in performance after the campaign launch
Before jumping into this read, please note, much of what we discuss is irrelevant if your digital advertising measurement it out of whack. This article assumes that the Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and/or other tracking mechanisms are in place to measure your Facebook Ad performance. Unless otherwise stated, all mentions about measurement and metrics are in reference to data available in the Facebook Ads manager.
Campaign costs are going up
Is the cost for your campaign objective going up? We typically focus on Facebook campaign objectives of traffic, leads (website conversions), or ecommerce website purchases. If you’re seeing the average costs for these objectives go up, it may be time to update your ads. For instance, if your campaign used to average $4 per website conversion, but now averages $6, it may be time for an ad refresh.
Before you get an update underway, verify that the ad set level learning phase is complete, no major edits have been done to the campaign, and that there aren’t external factors at play. For instance, an HVAC company may see a dip in AC campaign performance during a mild weather spell in summer.
Your ad frequency is getting high
Ad frequency is an average of how many times people in your target audience have seen your ads. At around a frequency of 2, our team likes to evaluate ads for declines in performance. Ad frequency is more of an art form to evaluate though, because frequencies that trigger declines in performance may vary by industry and audience. We have seen frequencies of over 10 lead to conversions in niche B2B verticals.
High frequencies often lead to a phenomenon called ‘ad fatigue’ wherein your audience is simply tired of seeing your ad. High frequency and decreasing performance may mean your audience is tired of your ad, and that you should fire up new copy and creative.
Failure to Launch
It’s one thing to observe measurable changes in performance that point to the need for new creative, but what if you never had any performance in the first place? If your ads had no performance at all, creative could be a factor to have on your radar, however, before looking to creative as a culprit consider these other causes:
Facebook offers three main cost types for ad campaigns that have an ecommerce or lead generation objective: target cost per acquisition (CPA), max cost, and lowest cost.
Though target CPA and max cost look appealing on paper, in execution they can stymie results. We’ve found that ‘target CPA’ is the most likely to underperform due to Facebook’s algorithm restricting ad delivery to only users most likely to complete your campaign objective at the exact cost you’ve set. Similarly, with max CPA, Facebook is trying to serve your ads to users most likely to take action below your set cost, which means they’re drawing from the pool of people who are more likely to spend less.
Lowest cost gives the Facebook Ads algorithm the most flexibility because it gives Facebook the leeway to serve your ads to the broadest audience, knowing some will cost more than others, but over time Facebook “learns” who converts at the lowest cost. The downside of optimizing for ‘lowest cost’ is that costs can be higher. If the ad set learning period is over, and your lowest cost-optimized ads have a cost that isn’t ideal, it’s time for fresh creative or changes to your audience.
If your audience size is small, there may not be enough users to complete your desired objective. Without users to complete your desired objective, the Facebook advertising algorithm will struggle to learn. The users of this small audience could also receive that ad at a high frequency, which could further impact results.
If you’ve ruled out cost type and audience size, but your ads never achieved your desired results, it may be time to try fresh creative.
Facebook Relevance Scores are Average or Below Average
Facebook has assigned a ‘relevancy’ score on ads for years. In summer 2019, they broke out relevancy into three categories outlined below. The relevancy scores are now out of three possible ratings, above average, average, and below average. If your ads are scoring ‘below average’ especially in the ‘conversion rate ranking’ category consider a media and copy update.
Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostic Categories
- Quality Ranking – does your ad ‘fit’ within your audience’s newsfeed? Your ad will receive the worst rating of ‘below average’ if your audience feels like the ad is salesy, trashy, or spam.
- Engagement Rate Ranking – similar to organic post’s engagement metrics, are users liking, commenting, and sharing your ad? If your ad can make these things happen you’ll land best marks of ‘above average’ in this category.
- Conversion Rate Ranking – will users take the conversion action you’ve optimized your campaign for? Scoring an ‘above average’ here, means users are more likely to ‘convert’ from your ad than average Facebook ads.
These Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostics are scored comparatively across ads on Facebook. The ‘below average’ rating in any category will also tell you if you’re in the bottom 35%, 20%, or 10% of ads overall. Poor marks in ad diagnostics are one of the best indications your ad creative should be updated.
What does Google Analytics reporting tell you?
Google Analytics can be a great arbiter of truth by offering an unbiased look at your Facebook Ads performance. At Tuff, we’ve made it a practice to cross-reference Facebook campaign reporting with Google Analytics reporting. Using UTM parameters on all Facebook ads allows us to see how the ad set audience, and in some cases, individual ads perform.
In Google Analytics, take a look at your Facebook campaign and individual ad set’s cost per session over time. Look at goal completions. If costs are going up or conversions are going down as reported by Google Analytics, it’s a good indicator that it is time to refresh your ads.
How about your bottom line?
Facebook and Google Analytics tracking isn’t perfect for a variety of reasons, so at the end of the day, it’s important to evaluate your own balance sheet. Are more of fewer customers becoming leads or making purchases online? Have increases to Facebook campaigns correlated with upticks in business? Is that uptick starting to wane? Use common sense, if you launched a $10,000/month Facebook campaign and saw an uptick in business, the campaign is likely playing a role. When performance declines, it’s time to reset.
Facebook thrives on novelty. People are on Facebook for a number of reasons, but when they’re in the app or on Facebook.com, it’s rare they’re looking for an advertiser’s product or service specifically. Ads should be optimized to stop someone’s scroll and get them to take action.
As a rule, it’s often good to start planning your next round of Facebook ads before performance ever dips. This way, you’re not caught on your heels when one of the above factors causes a dip in performance. Though great ads paired with ideal audiences can have a tenure of several months, we like to plan for new Facebook Ads creative every 4-6 weeks.
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Nate is a growth marketer based in Portland, Oregon. When he’s not optimizing ad sets and testing conversion objectives you can catch him walking his pug, skiing on Mt. Hood, and going for bike rides on his single speed (so Portland, we know). Talk to Nate today about how he can help you optimize your social media advertising strategy for sustained growth.