When a new campaign, ad group or ad is created in Meta (Facebook Ads Manager), the ad group goes into the so-called “learning phase”. In this phase, the system learns how and when to show your ads in order to best achieve your goal.
Each time an ad is shown, the system learns more about how the ad(s) will perform based on the placement(s) selected and the advertiser’s audience. This includes things like the best people to show them to, the best places to show them, and when is the best time to show them.
How long does the learning phase last on Facebook?
Of course, the more frequently an ad is shown, which can sometimes be dictated by budget (among other things), the faster the system learns. And while the ad group is in the learning phase, the cost per result can be higher and performance more volatile.
When a new ad set is created, it goes straight into the learning phase, but ad sets can revert back to the learning phase if a significant change is made. The main changes include:
- Targeting Changes
- Changes to the advertising medium
- Create a brand new ad in the ad set
- Pausing the ad set for more than 7 days
- Change the bid strategy
These changes may or may not be classified as significant changes depending on the size of the increase/decrease made:
- Ad Set/Campaign Budget
- Bid control, cost per result or ROAS target amount
How to complete the learning phase on Facebook
To get an ad set out of the learning phase, around 50 optimization events must take place. So if you have a campaign set up and the goal is sales and the ‘conversion event’ is ‘purchase’, the ads need to generate around 50 sales to complete the learning phase.
That means if you don’t expect your ad set to deliver about 50 sales in the first week, you’d better change the optimization event to something else that you’re more likely to see 50 of in a short time, like “add to cart”. for example.
Other things to consider are the size of your audience and your budget. You must ensure that the audience that can see your ad(s) is large enough for the system to learn quickly enough. If your budget is too small, this can limit things as well.
It’s also best not to make any changes for the first week, as learning starts over with every change. If your ads are still showing as “Learning” after a week, there are a few other changes you can make:
- Try to improve your ad design.
- Make sure you don’t have too many ads in an ad set as this will dilute the learning process.
- Try mixing some of your ad sets – if your ads and audiences are similar, you can mix ad sets to make them learn faster.
- Test different placements – Meta recommends choosing automatic placements, which may not work for everyone, but if your ads are eligible on all placements, it may be worth testing them to see how they perform.
- Use campaign budget optimization – Similar to combining ad sets, you can also combine campaigns and use campaign budget optimization (CBO). This feature optimizes your given budget across all ad groups to meet your goals.
- Use the lowest bid strategy – this should give you the best results for your budget. If you’ve set a cost cap or bid cap, you may need to increase those caps to get more results.
There is a checklist here which you may or may not find useful. Personally, I would not go through the checklist in the current order, but all the important points are on it.
If you need help managing your meta ads, contact us today.