How to prepare for Facebook’s Sept. 1 ad targeting, bidding changes


Starting Sept. 1, all targeting and bidding on Facebook rolls up to the ad set level. You can no longer do mixed targeting and mixed bidding.

In March, Facebook announced plans to simplify its advertising structure, breaking it down from campaign, to ad set to add. Facebook’s Patricia Lai announced in the PMD News group recently that the company is moving forward on part 2 of this plan: moving targeting, placement and bid settings to the ad set level. That three-tiered structure will roll out globally starting Sept. 1.

Here’s what Lai told members of the group:

In our updated interfaces, all NEW ad sets will define targeting, placement and bid settings at the ad set level. This does not change how our system optimizes; it only changes where these settings are defined. Comparing audiences, placements and bid settings across ad sets results in clearer and more meaningful insights. In our updated interfaces, advertisers will no longer be able to create ads with mixed targeting, placement or bidding within the same ad set, a common source of advertiser confusion. Ads will now be defined by your creative, leading to more clarity and predictability in regards to delivery.


In plain English: 

You should group your ads by creative, not by audience.

So when you have a piece of content, you make an ad set for it, choosing multiple targets and a bid.

Then Facebook will make the individual ads for you and optimize.

Your existing ad sets and ads will work just fine. You will have the option to migrate existing ad sets to the new ad set settings. All new ad sets created with Facebook ad interfaces will utilize the new ad set settings.

For optimization pros:

Don’t make ads by audience any more. The reason people did this was to prevent larger audiences from eating budget from smaller audiences.

Yet, the trade-off with this approach is that you’d have to create many, many ads for each creative.

Some notable pros have insisted that you create ads by audience, as they may have not understood that Facebook was in the process of implementing frequency capping, that creatives don’t live forever, and that bidding is something that shouldn’t be gameable.

When you have just one ad set per audience, you can easily turn off a creative in one place.

Let’s say you’re promoting an event, current news, or content that has an expiration date. If you had followed the advice of building ad sets by audience, you’d have to go kill each of those ads across multiple ad sets.

That would be crazy, unless you had Facebook ads API access to automate.

Look at Google AdWords.  They break campaigns into something they intentionally call “ad groups”, since it’s by the ad (creative).  Had they wanted you to organize by keywords, they’d call them “keyword groups,” right?

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While some people will complain about Facebook’s announcement here — the optimizers who try to game the system in a SEO-like way and the people who complain about any sort of change — we see this as quite positive.

Facebook is doing the right thing to make our lives as advertisers easier.

Imagine we get to the point where we merely tell Facebook our various business goals and they automatically select what combinations of audiences to receive what content?  Folks, we’re not that far off. Optimized CPM gets a good part of the way there.

This will put a number of Facebook ad vendors (selling training courses and software) out of business, at least the ones that don’t add vaue beyond just Facebook. But you knew this was going to happen.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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