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7min read

Facebook ads not performing? Here’s the real reason (Hint: It’s not what you think)

Apple’s iOS update is a gift that keeps on giving - if the gift were a waking nightmare for DTC advertisers that wholly depend on Facebook ads performing.

If you’re new to the whole privacy shebang, start with our simple guide that addresses the iOS 14 situation and what it means for advertisers like you.

If you’re caught up on that, here’s what’s happening to advertisers right now:

  • Facebook’s pixel technology has been rendered virtually ineffective thanks to the iOS 14.5 update
  • The lookalike audience performance is degrading, but it’s picking back up as Facebook’s modeled data efforts improve
  • Facebook recommends waiting 72 hours before measuring performance, so it’s hard to get real-time performance data

But wait, there’s more.

Your creative now has a shorter shelf life because there are fewer people available for targeting.

What does that mean?

The “wrong” creative might be served to people driving down performance into the ground.

So is it time to bid adieu to Facebook? Not quite. Even with the limitations, no other ad  network can compete against Facebook.

DTC advertisers, it’s time to focus on what you can control - creative.

Using creative to fix your Facebook ads performance

Wait, didn’t we just say that the creative has a shorter shelf life? So are you supposed to revisit and tweak your creative constantly?

You could if you had the budget for a design and copy team on standby to perform CPR on your dying Facebook ad.

But let’s be honest.

Most brands don’t, and even for the ones that do, it’s a massive drain on resources when there’s a much smarter way of doing this - put your creative on auto-pilot.

Level 1: Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)

In a battle for attention, personalized ads win. Top brands have known this for a while now. They have been leveraging Facebook’s dynamic creative optimization, and so should you.

Plug 5 of your best-performing ad titles, text, descriptions, images, and CTAs into Facebook and spin the wheel. Facebook shows each combination to a smaller audience before reporting the winning combination and displaying it to a larger audience through relevant ad placements.

From geo-targeted ads, and feed-based product ads, to really cool weather campaigns, we’ve seen it all. When done right, dynamic ads are pretty powerful. Telekom Slovakia decreased their CPA by 50% via highly personalized on-brand creative ads.

Besides helping you drive conversions, dynamic ads can also mitigate ad fatigue, which is a leading cause of poor performance. Ad fatigue is caused by generic ads being frequently displayed on users’ feeds.

So if you’re ready to jump into action to fix your ad performance on Facebook, check out our round-up of 15 killer dynamic creative examples.

But is dynamic creative optimization enough to improve your ads performance?

A year ago, using DCO might have been the answer to your ad performance woes, but arguably it isn’t such a secret anymore. So everyone’s on a level playing field.

Plus 5 variations of each ad component means a lot of work for the creative and media buying team. However, it’s still not enough to effectively understand what resonates with your audience - an audience whose expectations are constantly changing.

The latest ads trend that’s emerged due to the pandemic is ‘shoppertainment.’ Live shopping and gamified ads are the new normal.

The only way to truly test what works is to scale the idea of dynamic creative optimization to massive proportions. You need a way to automatically launch lots of ads quick and easy, aka creative automation.

Level 2: Creative automation

Creative automation is the answer to slow creative processes, generic ad experiences, and inconsistent design.

You can move 3x faster on production, freeing up time for creative ideation. Even with little to no design experience, anyone can create thumb-stopping ads. Plus, you can localize content for a global audience without spending a fortune.

All this just by connecting your data feed to a creative automation platform. For instance, Hunch’s creative studio enables brands to create and launch 1000s of ads automatically through the use of dynamic creative templates that ensure on-brand creatives on auto-pilot.

Fashion ad example

Creative automation is also immune to human errors. During the creation phase and when it’s time to launch, the platform does the media buying for you, leaving less room for error.

6 tips to manually improve your Facebook ads performance

Even without dipping your toes in automation and DCO, your ad creative can still improve by following these 6 best practices:

1. Optimize your videos for mobile

Vertical videos are in. They’re more engaging and immersive since they cover the entire screen. Use a vertical or square aspect ratio for your ad.

2. Use less text on images

Although there’s no limit to how much text you can use, using fewer words is optimal. Images with less than 20% of text perform better.

3. Make your text concise

Remember that you’re in a battle for attention. People seeing ads on Facebook and Instagram take just half a second to engage with mobile ads and have a reaction - positive or negative.

4. Use the carousel format

Why use one image when you show several at the same cost? Carousel works great for brands with several products.

5. Animate your creative

Ads with movement stand out. Use Facebook’s free templates or free apps like Hyperlapse, Boomerang, Adobe PhotoShop Express, or Adobe Spark to animate your creative.

6. Get creative with your CTA

Your call-to-action needs to be just as creative as the visuals you use. Test how your audience reacts to different CTAs and improve conversions.

Troubleshooting your Facebook ads performance

While creative differentiation gives you an edge over your competition, your ad’s performance might be taking a hit because of basic issues.

Here are 3 common scenarios that occur and how to troubleshoot them:

1. Your ad is not running

Check if your ad is running by reviewing the Delivery column status in Ads Manager.

  • If the Delivery column shows an error icon, hover over it to see what the problem is and how to fix it
  • If it shows a pending icon, your ad is either in draft, scheduled for later, or pending review. Hover over it to see the issue
  • If the Delivery Column says off, your ads have been turned off. This can happen if you’ve turned them off, an automated rule turned them off, or when they are scheduled to end

2. Your ad is running but not getting enough results

  • Some of your ads are getting results while others are not. This is normal. Facebook decides to show the ads that it predicts the ads that will generate the best results and not deliver other ads in the same ad set or campaign. If you want all your ads to deliver equally, create an A/B test.
  • If your ad set’s Delivery status is Learning or Learning Limited, you can optimize your setup to get better results.
  • If your ad isn’t in the learning phase and your budget isn’t being spent, check your Delivery status:
  • If the Delivery status shows “Bid Limited” or “Cost Limited”, cost control might prevent your ad from being delivered. Choose the lowest cost bid strategy or raise your cost control.
  • If the ad frequency is high or the Delivery status displays “Creative Fatigue”, your ads are experiencing creative fatigue. You can either add a new creative or expand your audience.
  • If your ad set has high “auction overlap”, other ad sets might win ad auctions. You can either combine similar ad sets or turn off overlapping ad sets.

3. Your ad is running but the cost is high

If your ad spend is too high, this can negatively impact your ROAS driving your performance down. Set a cost control to make sure your costs don’t exceed your budget. If your ad has exited the learning phase but is still showing unstable performance, try this:

  • Expand or modify your audience. Refrain from removing an audience segment since this will prevent the delivery system from finding low-cost opportunities.
  • Use new placements to find a larger audience with lost cost conversions.
  • Improve your creative. No surprise there! If your ad relevance diagnostics score is below average, your creative and post-click experience requires your immediate attention.

The future of creative is video

2022 belongs to video.

We’ve seen how short-form video content once native to TikTok has made its way across platforms. Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube heavily promote short videos. And changing consumer behavior has already affected how people shop.

As a result, ads on TikTok, Reels, and Shorts are increasingly prevalent. These ads provide the perfect blend of immersive and entertainment that shoppers crave.

So if you want to get a jump ahead, watch the recording of our webinar where we unveiled exactly how video will be integral to being successful on paid social.