When a new campaign, ad set or ad is created in Meta (Facebook Ads Manager) the ad set goes into what is called the “learning phase”. This is the stage when the system is learning how and when to show your ads to best achieve your objective.
Each time an ad is shown, based on the advertiser’s chosen placement(s) and audience, the system learns more about how the ad(s) are going to perform. This includes things like the best people to show them to, the best placements to show them on and when’s best to show them.
How long is the learning phase on Facebook?
Obviously the more an ad is shown, which can sometimes be determined by budget (among other things), the faster the system learns. And whilst the ad set is in the learning phase cost per results can be higher and the performance more volatile.
When a new ad set is created it goes straight into learning but ad sets can also go back into the learning phase if a significant edit is made. Significant edits include:
- Changes to targeting
- Changes to ad creative
- Creating a brand new ad in the ad set
- Pausing the ad set for more than 7 days
- Changing the bid strategy
These changes may or may not be classed as significant changes, depending on the how big the increase/decrease that is made is:
- Ad set / campaign budget
- Bid control, cost per result or ROAS goal amount
How to exit the learning phase on Facebook
To get an ad set out of the learning phase, around 50 optimisation events have to occur. So if you have a campaign set up and the objective is sales and the ‘Conversion Event’ is ‘Purchase’, then the ads will have to generate around 50 sales to exit the learning phase.
This means that if you do not expect your ad set to deliver 50 sales in the first week or so you are better off changing the optimisation event to something else, something you are more likely to see 50 of in a short space of time, like ‘add to cart’ for example.
Other things you need to consider are the size of your audience and your budget. You must ensure that the pool of people that can see your ad(s) is big enough to allow the system to learn fast enough. Similarly, if your budget is too small, this can limit things.
It’s also best not to make any edits in the first week as every time you make an edit the learning starts from scratch. If after a week your ads are still showing as ‘Learning’ there are some further edits you can make:
- Try and improve your ad creative.
- Ensure that you do not have too many ads within an ad set as this dilutes the learning process.
- Try blending some of your ad sets – if your ads and audiences are similar you could combine ad sets to get them to learn faster.
- Test different placements – Meta recommends choosing automatic placements, which might not be best for everyone, but if your ads are allowed on all placements then it could be worth testing it to see how they perform.
- Use campaign budget optimisation – similar to combining ad sets, you can also combine campaigns and use campaign budget optimisation (CBO). This feature optimises your given budget across ad sets to try and achieve your objectives.
- Use the lowest cost bid strategy – using this should get you the most results for your budget. If you have chosen to set a cost cap or bid cap, you may have to increase those caps to get more results.
There is a checklist here that you may or may not find useful. I personally wouldn’t work through the checklist in the order it is currently in, but all the main points are on there.
If you need any help with your Meta ads management, contact us today.