Facebook will soon be transitioning advertisers to campaign budget optimization (CBO), which automates budget optimization across the ad sets in a campaign. Originally scheduled to happen in September, the company pushed the move to February, giving advertisers more time to test it.
“With this shift, the budget will be set at the campaign level, much like search campaigns are now,” said Michelle Morgan, director of client services at Clix Marketing, “Facebook will then, in real-time ‘optimize’ the campaign by giving budget to the ad-set that is performing best out of all within the campaign.”
Morgan, who will be speaking about CBO and paid social tactics that drive conversions at SMX East in New York next month, says early tests her team has run have shown inconsistent results but that testing is critical.
What should advertisers expect with CBO?
“Where things are better or flat, we leave CBO in place, and where things are worse, we revert and try to organize again for a new test,” said Morgan. She’s found that about 40% of the time, campaigns switched to CBO come out ahead or remain flat — but about 60% of the time, campaign results end up being worse, forcing the agency to reconsider the campaign’s structure.
Morgan does think CBO will make it seem simpler to set up a campaign, and that it will make for an easy jump from search to social for advertisers. She said she doesn’t see it as an inherently good or bad move on Facebook’s part, but does believe that the algorithm, and optimization itself, needs work.
“At the moment, I’m seeing very mixed results with it and I’ve heard from many that their traditionally budgeted campaigns are out-performing CBO on the regular.”
It’s time to starting testing now
For advertisers who haven’t started testing CBO campaigns yet, Morgan said it is imperative they do so now.
“Even if performance isn’t better, this is going to be the way things are in the future, so get some data under your belt and know what to expect,” said Morgan.
In cases where campaign performance diminishes, Morgan recommends implementing minimums and maximums on your ad-sets. “Facebook still allows for that as a way to control the budgets — just in a different way.” However, she doesn’t recommend setting minimum and maximums for campaign-level budgets, “If you try to hold the system down too much, it can also get stuck by not being able to learn and test new things.”
If an advertiser isn’t seeing improvements using a minimum/maximum strategy, Morgan suggests it may be time to revisit the campaign structure altogether.
“Although it will make for a bulkier account, it might make sense for advertisers to shift to a more broken out campaign strategy, where a campaign that normally contained six ad sets is now six campaigns — each with only one ad set.”
Give the platform time to learn
Morgan points out advertisers may need to be patient — and put more time into managing their campaigns — if they’re not seeing the results they want.
“If you’ve recently switched to CBO and performance drops, take a look at where CBO is spending your money. Is it on the same ad sets it was before, or has it shifted? Once you have a feel for that, start setting the minimums and maximums to try and regain control, but do so gradually,” said Morgan.
“If a campaign with two ad sets used to split the budget 50/50, but now is at 90/10, set the minimums to guide spend to 80/20. Wait a few days and then shift to 70/30, etc. Give the platform time to learn and adjust as you guide it back to 50/50 or potentially look to break the ad sets out into their own campaigns for better control.”
Keep your eye on the goal
“It seems like a small tweak to the platform, shifting the budget from ad set to campaign level, but it has more implications than that,” said Morgan. She uses the example of an ad test with one creative asset that runs way with impressions. “Sometimes it’s the one generating the most conversions, engagement, video views at the lowest cost — and sometimes it’s not. It’s the loss of control for the ‘sometimes it’s not’ scenarios that makes this a large shift.”
So start testing CBO now and keep an eye on overall performance — continually evaluating whether campaign performance is getting better or worse.
More from SMX
- Download your free copy of the just-released Periodic Tables of PPC now!
- Video: Frédéric Dubut of Bing on core ranking, spam fighting and much more
- Google on building a better holiday omnichannel strategy
- A framework for SEO success with structured data