Do you know what is happening while your ad or ad sets are in the Facebook Learning Phase? The more an ad runs on Facebook, the more the machine learning delivery system understands the ad's ideal placement and audience, helping to better optimize for performance. As the Learning Phase is at work in your Facebook Ad Manager, knowing what is happening behind the scenes can help you make better decisions about your campaigns. We'll walk through what the Learning Phase is, how it works, and how it impacts your brand.
Defining the Facebook Learning Phase
When the Facebook ad delivery system is in the Learning Phase, it's gaining insights about an ad set. This phase is activated when a new ad, ad set, or edit is created within an existing campaign. The system analyzes data, such as time of day, ad placement, audiences, and more, to optimize the performance of an ad set. The more an ad shows, the more relevant data it can collect to optimize ad placement for the target user. While your ads are in the Learning Phase, keep in mind that CPA and performance may get worse before it gets better. The decline is due to the Facebook algorithm using signals from targeting and creative to find the right user to display the right message at the right time.
The graph below was generated from a new tool that Facebook rolled out earlier this year. It shows how the Facebook algorithm categorizes spend and summarizes how the advertiser's budget is classified.
The teal section shows that ~2/3 of the spend is falling in the Learning Phase, which means the budget entered another category. In this case, the spend was optimized and moved to the purple "Amount Spent" section. The purple section represents the efficient spend, and the yellow section shows the small amount of budget that is classified as "Learning Limited." The yellow Learning Limited section is a result of Facebook not gathering enough insights from the ad set to optimize the account. Although a bit of spending fell here, the data is a clue to look at the ad set(s) and make changes to help the algorithm graduate from the Learning Phase.
Facebook Learning Phase Triggers
These are the significant edits that will cause an ad set to re-enter the Learning Phase:
- Campaign level
- Bid amount
- Bid strategy
- Ad level
- Any change
- Ad set level
A good rule of thumb is to make any edits to multiple ads all at once so that the Learning Phase only has to reset only one time.
Which Part of the Learning Phase Am I In?
You can determine which part of the Facebook Ads Manager Learning Phase you are in by looking at the "Delivery" column in your ad account.
When your delivery column reads "Learning," your ad or ad set is in the Learning Phase. The delivery system is actively gathering information and gleaning insights to optimize the ad delivery process.
If your ad set still hasn't exited the Learning Phase after seven days, the delivery column will read "Learning Limited." You enter this phase for a variety of reasons. Either your bid control or cost is too low, budget is too low, audience size is too small, too many ad sets are running, or ad sets from the same ad account or Page are winning auctions instead. "Learning Limited" may also come up if the optimization event occurs very infrequently.
When your delivery column reads "Active," your ad sets are officially out of the Learning Phase. Although you have finished the Learning Phase, it's essential to monitor campaigns whenever there are changes.
Optimizing Spend Under the Facebook Learning Phase
Reference the impressions of your campaigns and optimize for clicks or content views. Optimizing for another event, besides purchases, can help you graduate from the phase faster and reduce your spending. Facebook suggests a smaller share of budget during the Learning Phase because this typically results in a higher share of the budget spent on stable performance and lower CPA.
Exiting The Learning Phase
The end goal of the Learning Phase is to exit as quickly as possible by achieving steady campaign performance to avoid wasting budget. This stabilization occurs when an ad set reaches around 50 optimizations within seven days.
- Hold off on edits until after the Learning Phase
- Avoid unnecessary edits
- Avoid high ad volumes
- Use realistic budgets
We suggest checking that your Facebook Pixel is running, and all tracking signals are in the right place. Another tip is boosting your audience size to make it easier for Facebook to identify whom to target.
Why Advertisers Should Care About the Facebook Learning Phase
Facebook Ad Manager is consistently finding ways to improve effectiveness for the advertiser. By taking advantage of the Facebook Learning Phase, brands can gain deeper insights into the Facebook algorithm. Directing attention to the changes in the Learning Phase can help enhance overall account efficiency.
Although the main objective is to get out of the Learning period as soon as possible, it's an essential part of the Facebook ad set optimization process. It shows brand inconsistencies and fluctuations in ad sets performance. Don't be afraid to test new marketing tactics and make edits to creative to improve performance. Sit back, avoid making unnecessary edits, and let the Learning Phase get to work.
If you're looking for an agency to partner with to boost your paid social media performance on Facebook, reach out to us today!