Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s Learning Phase

Facebook uses machine learning to gain insights on the best users and placements to show an ad. With each impression, Facebook’s delivery system gets slightly better at optimizing ad performance.

In late 2017, Facebook unveiled the learning phase. This ad set-level metric gives advertisers a pulse check on any algorithmic optimizations occurring behind the scenes each time an ad is served.

If you’ve pushed an ad set live between the rollout of this delivery insight and the present day, you’ve likely seen this message in your Ads Manager dashboard.

In the Delivery column, Facebook indicates which ad sets are actively gathering learnings and lets you monitor progress as your ads get closer to reaching the recommended 50 conversion events.

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Regardless of your campaign objective, Facebook relies on the learning phase to gather as much data as it can to figure out the most effective way to deliver an ad set. The delivery system is looking for around 50 conversion events in a seven-day window to gather the insights it needs to stabilize performance, and ad sets will remain in the learning phase until the necessary number of conversion events have been reached.

During that time, though, you can expect your performance to fluctuate. Ad sets in the learning phase generally see higher CPAs than stabilized ad sets, so it’s important to wait for your ad sets to exit the learning phase before jumping to any conclusions about the performance of your campaigns.

In this graph, you can see the correlation between the amount of ad spend in the learning phase and both conversions and CPA. In this graph, you can see the correlation between the amount of ad spend in the learning phase and both conversions and CPA.

According to Facebook, “advertisers with ~20% of spend in the learning phase (2nd decile) see 17% more conversions and 15% lower CPA than advertisers with ~80% of spend in the learning phase (6th decile).”

With that in mind, your ad sets would ideally spend the least amount of time necessary in the learning phase before performance stabilizes. Sometimes though, that’s not the case. If a week has gone by and your ad set still hasn’t exited the learning phase, you’ll see the “Learning Limited” insight in the Delivery column.

Learning Limited

The Learning Limited status indicates that your ads could not generate the recommended number of conversions during the initial seven-day learning phase.

In this screenshot from Facebook Ads Manager, you can check the Delivery column to see if your ads are Active, in the Learning Phase, or flagged as Learning LimitedIn this screenshot from Facebook Ads Manager, you can check the Delivery column to see if your ads are Active, in the Learning Phase, or flagged as Learning Limited

As a result, the Facebook delivery system won’t be able to optimize performance, meaning your ads won’t see full results or may encounter issues spending your budget in its entirety.

If your ads seem to be stuck between Learning and Learning Limited status, you’re probably wondering what gives. If that’s the case, it’s important to step back and make sure you’re not inhibiting Facebook during the learning phase. This means you should avoid:

  • Budgets that skew too large or too small. You need enough ad spend to get you the recommended 50 conversions, but an inflated budget can impact the way the delivery system optimizes.
  • Edits to your ad set or ads.
  • High ad volumes. This can unintentionally force your ad sets and ads into competition, resulting in fewer learnings for each ad set and ad.

If you’re obeying Facebook best practices and still seeing “Learning Limited” in the Delivery column within Ads Manager, try troubleshooting by testing some of the strategies below.

Mitigate Audience Overlap

Without distinct targeting parameters, your ad sets may be unintentionally overlapping. Not only can this lead to higher costs, but it plays a big role in the delivery of your ads, too. When audiences are used across ad sets or share similarities, Facebook prioritizes the top performer to mitigate competition within a single account. This means the other ad sets won’t fully deliver; as a result, they may be forced into Learning Limited status.

To combat this, combine ad sets with relevant targeting to minimize overlap. You can get more insight into any potential crossover with the “Show Audience Overlap” setting within the Audience tab of the Assets section.

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Consolidate Ad Sets

If remedying targeting overlap still leaves you with an excessive number of ad sets, Facebook recommends account simplification through the consolidation of ad sets. When too many ad sets are live at once, the ads within them are served less often, resulting in more time in the learning phase.

Advertisers can work around this by consolidating relevant ad sets. For example, using automatic placements eliminates the need to break out ad sets by placement; opting for multiple languages in a single ad set means you don’t need to create a unique ad set for a single language.

Expand Your Targeting

If your audience is too small to begin with, there’s a high likelihood that’s a factor that’s limiting your ad sets’ ability to win auctions.

Audience definition directly impacts the effectiveness of your targeting, especially for organizations that sell niche products or services. Keeping your budget in mind, make targeting adjustments that give your audience pool more breadth.

By expanding your targeting, you’re giving Facebook a wider pool to more accurately search for the users that are most likely to take the desired action from your ads. Make sure you’re keeping audiences sizes consistent across ad sets, though. Campaign Budget Optimization will typically prioritize the delivery of the ad set with the largest audience, which could unintentionally impact the learning phase of your other ad sets.

This message from Facebook Ads Manager alerts you that your audience size may affect budget distribution. If your audiences are significantly different in size, ad sets with the largest audiences will likely receive the most budget.This message from Facebook Ads Manager alerts you that your audience size may affect budget distribution. If your audiences are significantly different in size, ad sets with the largest audiences will likely receive the most budget.

Readjust Your Optimization Event

If your audience is too small to begin with, there’s a high likelihood that’s a factor that’s limiting your ad sets’ ability to win auctions.

Audience definition directly impacts the effectiveness of your targeting, especially for organizations that sell niche products or services. Keeping your budget in mind, make targeting adjustments that give your audience pool more breadth.

By expanding your targeting, you’re giving Facebook a wider pool to more accurately search for the users that are most likely to take the desired action from your ads. Make sure you’re keeping audiences sizes consistent across ad sets, though. Campaign Budget Optimization will typically prioritize the delivery of the ad set with the largest audience, which could unintentionally impact the learning phase of your other ad sets.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s Learning Phase appeared first on Portent.

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8 Virtual SEO Conferences for B2B Marketers

8 Virtual SEO Conferences for B2B Marketers

8 Virtual SEO Conferences for B2B Marketers

It’s the beginning of our second week of social distancing here in Minnesota. I’ve already cleaned my house no fewer than 10 times, cleaned and organized closets, and gone on approximately 100 walks. I’m about 24 hours away from dressing my cats in costumes and putting on a (very sharp, bitey) show. But if that’s what it takes to keep spirits up and minds occupied at home, that’s what we will do.

Among the uncertainty and boredom we all face in these unprecedented times, we tend to take solace in the familiar. Keeping ourselves busy with ideas, concepts and work that nourish our minds is one thing we can do to stay sane and focus on the things we can impact.

While many of our favorite search conferences are being postponed to later dates, there are still plenty of excellent virtual conferences to attend in the meantime. If you, like me, are looking for something tangible and productive to put your mind to, this list of 8 virtual search engine optimization (SEO) conferences may be just the ticket for you.

[bctt tweet=”“While many of our favorite search conferences are being postponed to later dates, there are still plenty of excellent virtual conferences to attend in the meantime.” @Tiffani_Allen” username=”toprank”]


The CMC 2020 Digital Experience: The 2020 Content Marketing Conference has been relocated to their online CMC Academy this year. Conference sessions will be available beginning April 21st including session recordings and workshops from speakers like:

They are also offering a free ticket to next year’s CMC 2021 LIVE for CMC 2020 ticket holders so you can make connections and meet in person next year!


Midwest Digital Marketing Conference: This popular conference has moved online this year. Join the live, two-day virtual marketing summit on Wednesday, May 20th and Thursday, May 21st to hear from speakers like:

If you aren’t able to make those days work, the on-demand experience will be available online for a year following the event.


Adobe Summit: Get the latest insights into customer experience, which is an important factor for every SEO, at the first-ever digital Adobe Summit. The full lineup has yet to be announced, but you can register here for updates about the March 31 event.


Atomicon: This year’s Atomicon conference has gone fully virtual this year to bring insights from the world of content marketing, social media and search engine optimization. The conference takes place on April 28, 2020 featuring sessions from speakers like:

Not all the sessions are SEO specific, but every session touches on a digital marketing tactic that’s integral to making the whole digital mix successful.


SMX Munich: The first of the SMX series to move online, coming at you from Munich with everything you need to know about trends in PPC, SEO and search marketing overall. Speakers include:


Confab: This content strategy conference is a must-see for search marketers, and the virtual experience will be live on May 17-May 20. Search absolutely needs (and deserves) a seat at the content strategy table, and vice versa. The details are not yet finalized for the online version of this conference, but they should be coming soon! Some speakers to note:


SEMRush Live Webinars: SEMRush has compiled live webinars from some heavy hitters in the SEO and content marketing industry to provide advice, tips and other educational nuggets for marketers. Some webinars that look promising include:

Of course, there are many other past events to view on-demand as well.


Search Engine Journal Webinars: Browse on-demand and upcoming live webinars on topics ranking from BERT to boosting lead volume. A few that I found exciting were:

Stay Connected and Learn at Virtual Conferences

Attending conferences – even in a virtual setting – is a great way to stay connected to the marketing and SEO community. And, we could all use some human connection right now. Take some time to build your skills, renew your passion for search marketing, and avoid skin and eyeball risking activities like cat costume parties.

Did I miss an event you’re looking forward to? Leave me a note in the comments or tweet us @toprank.

The post 8 Virtual SEO Conferences for B2B Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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