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Newcomers to the Facebook advertising platform often come to a standstill after the budgets start to spend and the task of optimizing beckons. Even for Facebook advertising veterans, it’s often helpful to zoom out a bit to gauge opportunities to improve performance.

In this post, we’ll walk you through how to react to fluctuating cost per acquisition on the Facebook advertising platform.

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To start, pull a report for the previous three days that includes CTR, CPC, budget, the previous day’s spend, and CPA on ad set level; then sort CPA highest to lowest.  Once you’ve isolated CPA, we recommend the following:

  1. If CPA is below goal and the full budget was not spent the day before, increase the ad set’s bid
    • If using automatic bidding, switch to a large manual bid
  2. If CPA is below goal and spent its full budget the day before, increase budget
  3. If CPA is within 20% of goal, let things run as is to allow the Facebook algorithm to naturally improve performance
  4. If CPA is high but within 150% of your CPA goal, decrease bid
    • If using automatic bidding, switch to a small manual bid
  5. If CPA is more than 150% of your CPA goal, decrease budget
  6. If CPA is extremely high, turn the ad set off
    • If you have a new ad set that has spent more than 5 times goal and has not converted in the first week, turn it off

Other ideas if CPAs are high:

  • If you are seeing weak CTRs and CPCs, you may want to consider refreshing existing ad content. This is an easy way to start with fresh engagement and knock out any negative engagement that may be affecting your numbers. Note: if you are seeing frequencies of 2.5 or above, you should launch completely new creative.
  • Like I mentioned before, you can also look into adjusting the bid type. I recommend starting with automatic oCPM bidding and, if that is inefficient, trying manual oCPM and CPC, respectively. Try to stick with oCPM if possible because it does push a stronger CVR, but if CPCs are very high, pushing aggressive small CPC bids can bring down initial costs and improve performance.
    • Note: These bidding tips also apply if you have an ad set that continually hits CPA goal but has trouble scaling.

As you are optimizing, be mindful of seasonality and latency on your account, as both factors could have a large impact on performance. If your account does see a lot of latency, open up the report data to a larger time range so you can get a more complete picture of performance.

I recommend that you repeat this process on a weekly basis to allow the Facebook algorithm enough time to efficiently optimize before you make changes – but if you’re trying to scale, you should repeat the process more frequently.

Happy optimizing!