Facebook Learning Phase

How to Cut Costs on Facebook by Exiting the “Learning Phase”

Brands are likely to pay more for advertising as we head into the holiday season and the U.S. presidential election. With Twitter banning political ads and Google restricting them, a large share of digital political ad dollars will go to Facebook (source: eMarketer, January 2020). This increase in ad spend will likely result in an uptick in costs for those advertising on Facebook and Instagram. One way you can combat this increase is to take advantage of the Facebook Learning Phase. Read on to learn about what it is, the cost-efficiencies with completing the learning phase, and ways to complete the phase sooner.

Facebook Learning Phase

What is the Facebook Learning Phase?

This phase is a period when the Facebook delivery system learns about the best people and places to show an ad. Since the system is exploring the best way to deliver, ads in this phase are less stable and often have a higher cost-per-action, so it’s important to complete this phase. Ads exit this phase as soon as their performance stabilizes, typically 50 optimization events since its last significant edit. Significant edits can be made at the campaign, ad set, or ad level. Edits can include changes in the budget, bid strategy, targeting, pausing for over seven days, and creative. To view the full list, visit this Facebook Business Help article.

To see where you are in the Learning Phase, check the delivery column in the ad set level. Ad sets listed as “Learning” or “Learning Limited” are in the Learning Phase. Those that are “Active” have completed the phase.

How does the Learning Phase impact cost?

To test the cost-efficiencies gained when leaving this phase, we ran an analysis for three brands. This assessment confirmed that ad sets “out of” the Learning Phase are more cost-efficient than those “in” the phase based on key performance indicators (figure 1). Differences in cost per result ranged from a few dollars up to $15. When we calculate what this means in monthly savings, a brand spending $15,000 could end up saving up to $5,600 by having ads “out” of the phase (figure 2).

Figure 1

Facebook Learning Phase: Figure 1

Figure 2

Facebook Learning Phase: Figure 2

What are some ways to gain efficiencies sooner?

One easy way to complete the Learning Phase sooner is to avoid making significant edits to your campaign, ad sets, or ads. Making changes to your targeting may be tempting, but if the change isn’t absolutely necessary, hold off on making that change. Editing your social buy will only restart the learning process and you’ll lose out on the efficiency you would have gained.

Consolidating ad sets so that you’re able to quickly garner 50 optimization events is another tactic for completing the phase sooner. Instead of having multiple ad sets with smaller audiences, combine the ones that make sense so that you have few ad sets of larger audiences.

Lastly, optimize for a conversion event that occurs more frequently. For example, if your purchase event is garnering fewer than 50 events, consider optimizing for an event that occurs more frequently such as add to cart.

As you plan your Q4 social campaigns, consider how the Facebook Learning Phase could impact your buy. Also, check out how political ads may impact paid social campaigns for tips on what you can do during the upcoming U.S. presidential election. As always, if you’re looking for a social partner to help you prepare for this upcoming quarter, we’re here to help – so just ask.

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