Ep. 8 - Facebook Ads : 3.5X more results by simplifying your ad account

Facebook Ads : 3.5X more results by simplifying your ad account

Episode 8

Facebook Ads : 3.5X more results by simplifying your ad account

My name is Antoine Gagné and I’m very happy that you joined us today for a new episode of Social Selling.

At the beginning of 2019, Facebook released a new way to advertise on its platform. The name of this new technique; The Power 5.

After analyzing over tens of thousands of different campaigns, the engineers at Facebook have been able to circle down five fundamentals.

One of these is called ; account simplification.

The idea is the following; Facebook recommends to have the least possible campaigns in your account to facilitate the distribution of your ads.

It makes sense on paper, but does it work in real life?

Today, we’re going to show you a case study where one of our clients has been able to generate 3.5X more results only by using Facebook best practices. And remember, we used the same ads and the same offer. The only thing that we changed is the way we structured our campaigns.

Nate Ross, Senior media buyer at J7 Media is with me today. Nate, before we talk about this case study, can you explain to the audience what is the Power 5?

We hope you enjoy this episode!

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(Antoine) My name is Antoine Gagné and I’m very happy that you [are joining] us today for a new episode of Social Selling. 


At the beginning of 2019, Facebook released a new way to advertise on its platform. The name of this new technique: The Power Five. After analyzing over tens of thousands of different campaigns, the engineers at Facebook have been able to circle down five fundamentals.


One of these is called account simplification. The idea is the following: Facebook recommends you have the least [number of] possible campaigns in your account to facilitate the distribution of your ads. 


It makes sense on paper, but does it work in real life? Today we're going to show you a case study where one of our clients has been able to generate 3.5 times more results only by using Facebook best practices. And remember, we used the same ads and the same offer. The only thing that we changed is the way we structured our campaign.


Nate Ross, Senior Media Buyer at J7 Media is with me today. Nate, before we talk about this case study, can you explain to the audience what the Power Five is? 


(Nate) Sure. 100%. And thanks again for having me on the podcast. So I think, as you mentioned, it's better off to start by talking a bit about what the Power Five [and] exactly what it is, and then we’ll dive into the case study that you mentioned and take a look at a real life case with one of our clients and how we managed to just simplify his account. Because that’s really the focus for today; account simplification and how we can leverage that tactic, basically, to improve our results.


So the Power Five, basically, the way Facebook describes it, is “the days of manually hacking your way to ad success are no more.”  So, by following these rules of the Power Five, advertisers can leverage a specific set of automated ad tactics to unlock better performance. This is the set of tactics that Facebook calls the ‘Power Five.’ You actually use them together, these five tactics. They’ll have the ability to transform the ad performance on your account and you can scale across the Facebook family of apps way easier that way. 

The first tactic would be the ‘auto advanced matching.’ This improves the accuracy of measurement and attribution. It enables you to better understand where your results come from. So by using the auto advanced matching tool, you can better understand what your campaigns are getting for you and it'll just simplify your life and optimize your ad account because you’ll know where your actual results come from.


The second tactic would be the dynamic ads. So with the dynamic ads, you can automatically deliver the right product ad to the right person based on an interest they probably have expressed on your website or app or anywhere else on the Internet. So, for instance, if someone browses a specific product on your website, dynamic ads will personalize the pitch to make sure that the same person gets an advertising experience that really fits what they saw on the website. 


The third tactic would be the automatic placement. So this allows you to really leverage the whole family of apps to overall decrease your CPA and improve your chances of connecting with the right audience at the right time.


Fourth tactic is campaign budget optimization. This one has been reviewed recently, as we spoke about in a previous podcast But still, it's definitely something that you can – you should use, actually – in most cases. And campaign budget optimization basically helps advertisers improve the ROI by automatically distributing the spend to the top performing ad sets in real time. Simply set a central campaign budget to optimize across all ad sets. This will help boost your efficiency and it will also save you some time in the end. So using campaign budget optimization is probably one of the most important elements that is so powerful.


And then the fifth one is the one we're going to focus on today. It's account simplification or a simplified account structure. And basically, by simplifying your account structure, you allow the machine learning of Facebook to auto test which creatives and ad placement drive the best results so they can actually optimize in real time. 


Having a simplified account structure minimizes the risk of competing against yourself on the platform as well. I've seen many examples of overcomplicated account structures with numerous campaigns targeting the exact same audience with different hooks or product lines. Doing this will increase your total audience overlap, and you may very well end up bidding against yourself on that audience, which will in turn increase your CPA.


(Antoine) Yeah, also, there's one thing – it will facilitate your understanding of your account. Like when you have twenty different campaigns in your account, at some point, it just is hard to optimize your campaigns when you have so many of them in front of you.


(Nate) Yeah, definitely. Having a super intense account structure will just... like you can probably get lost in your own campaigns. You'll end up running stuff that shouldn't be running, ads that maybe don't get the best results all the time. And you just won't have the ability to see that in a really structured way. And a lot of people actually get lost in their own account structure. So it really definitely helps in a lot of different ways. 


And, yeah, definitely for today's podcast, I think the main focus is account simplification. I think it was the right idea. It's [...] really a minor change that you can easily implement on your account and this will lead you to better results instantly. 


So we're going to take a look at how we implemented a simplified account structure for one of our clients. And also take a look at the results this new structure brought to us. This example is particularly interesting because it was actually very challenging to simplify, [and] to implement such a simplified account structure in the context of this account.


So I think we can probably start by talking a bit about the client himself, which is a client that we actually spoke about in different podcasts prior to this one. They're called MudGirl. So the company itself is Sportera. They run an obstacle course race for women, which is called MudGirl. This client actually had a lot of growth in the last couple of years. And today they run race events in multiple cities across North America. These races that they hold across North America are held in different cities at different moments.


So as anyone would expect, advertising for these events is something you would not really instinctively do in a simplified way. You do it more in a fragmented way, meaning you would have one campaign for each and every event. And this is especially true considering that the promotional cycle for one of these events usually lasts around six months from lead generation to the launch of the ticket sales leading up to the event. So not all events have reached the same stage of the cycle at the same time. So we can easily talk about a simplified structure, but running this ad account in a simplified way with only the least amount of campaigns was really challenging because you'd instinctively go for basically one campaign per city or per event, and it would be the logical thing to do.


Before I introduce the implementation of the simplified account structure for this client, I'm also going to let you know exactly how we used to structure the account itself, which is exactly how I just explained it.


Basically, we had a single funnel for each event or each city. You can put it how you like. So we had one top of funnel campaign centered around the city in which the event was taking place. So the targeting was really like...for instance, if we had Los Angeles in California, this whole campaign was centered around Los Angeles. Our visuals may have presented Los Angeles. The way we communicated on the ads was centered around Los Angeles. And we also had a bottom of funnel campaign which was targeting the exact same zone as well. So our targeting method was way more narrow, rather than global. 


And to give you proper context on how things were generally going so we can have a better understanding of our optimization timeline in 2018 and early 2019, the things weren't going bad at all for the client. If we take a step back, even in time, we started working with this client in late 2018 and they weren't even using the pixel on their ads at that time. But still the client was actually seeing a lot of growth and most events were sold out within that six month period I spoke about earlier.So, at first we were mostly using traffic goals on our campaigns because the Pixel simply didn't have a lot of data and history on it.


And at that point, our main challenge was not really to sell tickets, but rather having consistent sales on every event over a long period of time. So we were having a lot of success, mostly around our price increases, but we were having a hard time having really consistent results across the six month period. So we were noticing our average ROAS drop to dangerously low levels every time we weren't running our ads and a price increase period, which indicated in many ways that our budget was just simply not optimized properly.


So our first experiment, it really wasn't about the targeting method, but rather the optimization method. So the first main optimization we tried was to switch from traffic campaigns, which had the advantage of bringing in a lot of volume, to the add to cart optimization once the pixel was installed. This was meant to have the advantage of connecting with fewer people probably, and having less volume, yes, but still connecting with highly valuable audiences. 


And I have to tell you, the results for that first experiment that we ran were horrible. Very disappointing. Especially on cold audiences. So, just to give you a good idea, the month prior to the launch of that experiment, if you will, our customer add to cart on cold audiences was around $34 and our ROAS was close to two, so 1.96. And then for the full month after this first experiment, our cost per add to cart shot up to $86 per add to cart and our ROAS dropped to 0.56 and this was around the end of the 2019 tour for MudGirl. 


So we actually decided to go back to our first traffic campaigns at that point to basically finish off the sales of the 2019 tour on a good note. But you know, they were already planning the next season for MudGirl and the client was adding many new cities to the tour. And with Facebook, who had just released the Power Five method at that point, we knew that we had the opportunity to leverage these five new tactics. So we did a lot of thinking.


And by reading through the Facebook document that they provided us on the simplified account structure, we understood that maybe a wider targeting meant more opportunities for Facebook to optimize properly on our audiences, and that with this type of very large audience, we would probably have more success using better campaign goals rather than just using traffic. So we wanted to go back to an add to cart optimization. 


So, we decided to try something out that was really out of the box. And to be honest, presenting that to the client – at first, it took some time. It took some time. It took some convincing. But instead of narrowly targeting each city with a single campaign, we decided to try a global campaign which would target within the same audience each and every city in which there was an event. So there were many things we needed to adapt: the messaging on the ads, better tracking of the budget spent…But mostly two things happened.


The first was the average audience size went from 250k to 500k per campaign, [to an] audience of around 12 million. So our audiences exploded. There were maybe like 20 times more people on our average audience than before.


And then for that first experiment, the second thing that happened also, which we noticed is in November 2019, with only around 10% of our top of funnel budgets going to the global campaign, 40% of our top of funnel conversion revenue was attributed to that global campaign. So, with 10% of the budget, we actually converted 40% of our total revenue for this month of November 2019. 


(Antoine) So, can you give us just to be sure – so the audience can understand these numbers, because there's a lot of numbers – can you tell us the difference between this top of the funnel campaign per city, the ROAS compared to the TOF that you just discussed? So, the acquisition campaign based on the country wide [audience]. You were targeting a broader audience. Can you just give us the numbers?


(Nate) Yeah. I don't have the numbers in terms of the ROAS for the first month.

I do have them for the aggregate period after which…so basically [for] the second experiment. We decided to go global just to test it out. 


Basically, we did realize at first that our results were definitely better on that global campaign. But at that point, most of the investment was also going to the usual narrowly targeted campaigns. So it was definitely just a hunch. We kind of knew that there was an opportunity for us to go in that direction. But we were doing it at a small scale with 10% of the budget only going to that campaign. So we weren't getting that excited, but we definitely understood that we could test it out at a larger scale. And this is exactly what we did. 


So for the third experiment, with all these results in mind, we decided to run the same test, but with a broader scale, with around 40% of our budget going into the global campaign and the results that we managed to get from running this experiment were astounding.


To give you a clear idea, and I have all the aggregate KPIs for that whole three month period. So that was from November 2019 to January 2020. The average KPIs for the per city campaign, so our previous optimization method, our previous targeting method... We invested for that three month period $138,000. Our cost per add to cart was at $33. Our cost per purchase was at $66 and our conversion value was 240k for a ROAS of only 1.74. 


For the same period, using the exact same hooks, the exact same visuals, the exact same ads but just with a broader targeting, we invested $51,000, which was 40% of the budget. Our cost per add to cart was $10. Our cost per purchase was $20, [and] our conversion value was $261,000 with a ROAS of 5.12. So our cost per add to cart was 3x smaller. Our cost per purchase was 3x smaller. Even more than that, our ROAS was actually close to 4x better for the exact same period with a pretty considerable investment as well, and with using the exact same content, basically.


(Antoine) So same same offer, same hooks, same messages, same period. And your ROAS went from 1.74  to 5.12, right?


(Nate) Exactly.


(Antoine) And it's quite impressive, right?


(Nate) Yeah, absolutely.


(Antoine) That's that's why you should use the Power Five almost all the time. It works perfectly.


(Nate) And one of the most positive things also is that it really allowed us to solve our main issue, which was consistency. So as I mentioned and I pointed out earlier, the main challenge for this client wasn't to sell tickets. We understood how to sell tickets. We had great content, great hooks. His brand is really established. So we definitely could sell out most of the events. But our issue was really having consistent results over a long period of time.


The challenge that we had is that we were basically investing a lot of money at times, in which maybe some of the events weren't as responsive. So we were wasting money on these campaigns, while others might have been performing better at the same time. And using this simplified account structure really allowed us to leverage this advantage of Facebook, this quality that Facebook has. 


It's great at optimizing a large audience so if you give it many cities to optimize where events are happening, maybe during, I don't know, a week period, advertising in Los Angeles will actually be way cheaper than advertising in New York. And Facebook will understand that and it will prioritize Los Angeles over that period of time, which will in turn drop the average CPA, which means you'll invest your money smarter. And having a simplified account structure really allowed us to leverage that quality that Facebook has. 


And I mean, the results speak for themselves. The ROAS on cold audiences was 5.12 with a considerable budget going into that campaign. It really speaks for itself. And it's just unfortunate that we had to put a hold on everything after January 2020 because of COVID-19.


But definitely this is something that we started implementing on other accounts as well, because we understood the power that it had and the added value that we had using that kind of structure. So really, it was a lesson for all of us. And we were glad to have access to that information. At first, when Facebook started releasing all the info about the Power Five, our thought method was really to just sit down and look at these five tactics as a whole and see how we could really implement each and every one of them into our ad accounts, especially when we had a challenge like this one. We were looking for consistency. We understood that having a broader targeting would lead to better consistency. We implemented it and tested it. And definitely it was a success for us. 


(Antoine) Yeah, no, that's that's very impressive. But I think for people who are listening today, stop thinking that you can outsmart Facebook with your audiences, that you can target people based on X, Y, Z interest. And for that reason, you're going to have better results.  Just give a specific objective to Facebook. After that, give Facebook a broad audience and let the algorithm work for you because that's how you're going to generate results. 


Facebook targeting isn't the same as it was three or four years ago. The same interests, the same targeting is there. But you shouldn't use it the same way as you were before. I remember like two or three years ago, we were doing campaigns by city. We were, not only for this account, but for so many accounts. We were having very specific targeting and the results were there. Now it's different. The Pixel is outperforming our brain (laughs) and we should work with the Pixel instead of working against the pixel.


(Nate) I'm one hundred percent with you on that one. I think definitely advertising on Facebook over the last two to three years changed a lot. The machine learning and the algorithm and the AI on Facebook's system improved by so much. 


And nowadays, it's funny. I see people who haven't worked on the ads manager for a while get back to me and ask me how to properly do something. Their instinct is to really use these interest based audiences, try to target as narrowly as possible on an audience to try to match their product with that interest as much as possible. And they think it's going to be the best thing for them, but actually using that machine learning, that A.I., those algorithms that Facebook has enhanced and improved so much in the last two years, is really how you're going to leverage the platform properly and end up lowering your CPAs.


(Antoine) Yeah, 100 percent. 100 percent. OK, cool. Nate. Very interesting. Anything else that crossed your mind that you think the audience would benefit [from] around the account simplification technique?


(Nate) No, I think it's one of the five great elements of the Power Five. If you just sit down and take a look at these five tactics and try to implement them on your own account, you're probably going to end up finding some success.


(Antoine) OK, great. Thank you very much, Nate


And for people who are listening, use account simplification. Go read about the Power Five. We’ll give links in the notes around the case study that we did on this blog, [so] a blog article that we put on our website based on this case study that we just told you. And I'm pretty sure that it will help you to generate better results. 


See you soon for a new episode of Social Selling.