Not only is the holiday season an important time for many businesses, it’s also a very competitive time on marketing platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The influx of advertisers and ad spend will raise CPMs and generally just make it more expensive to advertise. Couple this with the fact that COVID is still likely to be impacting things this holiday and we have an election year. All of this combined means ad auctions can get very competitive, and if you aren’t careful, you could waste your ad budget. So let’s go over a few tips on what you can do to prepare and set yourself up for success now to prevent scrambling later.

Simplify Your Account Structure

If you want to have an efficient account, one of the best things you can do is simplify your campaign and ad set structure. Instead of 10 campaigns targeting the same audience you should have one campaign targeting that audience (maybe 2 if it’s a big audience). Doing this will reduce audience overlap, enabling stronger performance and ensuring you spend your budget effectively. For more on audience overlap, check out my blog Facebook Audience Overlap: What Is It And How To Avoid It.

Placement Liquidity – Use At Least 4 Placements

In order to get the cheapest CPMs and cheapest cost per result you’ll want to opt your ad sets into as many placements as possible. All placements are recommended but at least 4 placements at minimum. This will also help you simplify your account as I pointed out in the previous section. Remember, Facebook advertising is not Facebook vs Instagram vs Messenger vs Audience Network. It is audience based and reaching your audience wherever they are most efficiently. If you break out placements into their own ad sets, you are basically inhibiting your own strategy by paying for the same users multiple times. 

Budget Liquidity – Use The Campaign Budget Optimization Setting

Where it is possible and where it makes sense, you should be using campaign budget optimization to help you spend your budget in the most effective way. This will help you maximize delivery and decrease total cost per result across all ad sets in the campaign. Plus, the time saved by not having to manually shift budgets around ad sets can be better used to create new exciting ads or free up time to think more strategically.

Creative Liquidity – Make At Least 2 Ads Per Ad Set

When setting up ads for your ad set, you should be making at least 2 ads. This will give Facebook’s algorithms a chance to test in real-time and serve the ad that is getting you the most results. You can run 2 image ads, 1 image 1 video, etc… Just make sure to have at least 2 variations. You should also use placement asset customization setting so your ads are customized for each placement. This will ensure your ads look the best they can and be optimized for the behavior of the placement. This option can be found at the ad level.

Audience Liquidity – Go Broader

This tip has two recommendations. First is to have large audiences. Facebook’s algorithms prefer larger audiences to find the best users to serve your ads to. Smaller audiences limit scale and learnings. Note that this does not mean you shouldn’t be specific in your targeting, but just that broad audiences tend to perform better. The second recommendation is to use detailed targeting expansion for more audience flexibility. This will allow Facebook to expand your detailed targeting if it detects a conversion is likely to occur.

Understand the Learning Phase

Each ad set must go through a learning phase in order to maximize its delivery and effectiveness. To exit the learning phase, an ad set must achieve 50+ conversions within a 7 day period. Utilizing everything mentioned above and minimizing edits after launch will help you get through the learning phase more quickly. If you find that you are not achieving enough conversions per week, try optimizing for a conversion event that is a bit higher in the funnel. So instead of purchases maybe it’s add to carts. Or instead of a subscription maybe it’s a trial.

Wrap Up Major Testing Before Q4

Now is the time to be testing audiences, bidding, creative, etc. Once Q4 hits, you want to make sure that you are only running with things you know are effective for your business. Testing during Q4 could be a negative thing for your account due to the competitive nature of the season.

Allow For Additional Ad Approval Time

The holiday season will drive a large influx of advertisers. This means lots and lots of ads are going to be created. This puts a major burden on Facebook’s ability to review ads for approval in a timely manner. Expect long ad approval times. Get your ads created as far in advance as possible so you aren’t missing out on opportunities because your ad is stuck in review. Got an ad disapproval? Check out this article for help.

A Quick Nod to Covid and the Election

You know about them. You’ve heard about them, probably a lot. This holiday season will be further impacted by both COVID and the US presidential election, meaning CPMs will probably be even more expensive than usual during the season. Make sure to follow the above tips to minimize their impact. And when you are making your ads, just be mindful of the general landscape. Be honest, genuine, and informative when presenting your brand. This is your chance to stand out with a fun and authentic message in a sea of negativity.