9 myths about Facebook & Instagram ads
Updated: Sep 3, 2023
I normally don’t like to use clickbait titles on my blog, but I made an exception here. I talk to advertisers weekly and hear all the conspiracy theories about how Facebook Ads work – mysterious ways and strange explanations that make me laugh but also makes me wonder whether or not these advertisers should even be using this platform. I can list hundreds of myths that I’ve heard in the last few years, but I will focus on the top myths I think are worth sharing.
1. FACEBOOK ADS AND INSTAGRAM ADS DON’T WORK ANYMORE
This is my all-time favorite myth. I’ve advertised on the platform since 2012. I remember very well that even in the early days of Facebook ads, you would hear the same theories over and over again – Facebook Ads don’t work anymore and you can’t make money from them.
If Facebook ads didn’t work, they wouldn’t have made 55 billion dollars in 2018 alone from advertising. So there is absolutely no argument as to whether Facebook ads are still effective for businesses.
The real question is whether they still cost-effective for your product. If your performance has recently dropped, it may have been an increase in competition or an increase in cross-industry competition on the same ad space that caused the drop. Understand that for every bad day that you have as an advertiser, someone else is having a great day, and the laws of supply and demand determine who owns the market at a given time.
2. THE ART OF SCALING YOUR BUDGETS
This is my second favorite myth. Articles have been written, groups have been created and the topic of how to scale your budget and spend more money has been discussed around the globe. The crazy thing is that 99.5% of what’s being discussed or offered up as advice is complete nonsense that has no scientific or rational basis.
The most popular suggestion on how to increase your spend is by making incremental increases slowly and by duplicating a few campaigns to be able to sustain performance and spend more money. This is wrong. Why? If you were an advertising platform, your objective would be to get as much money as you can from the advertiser right?
Why would they provide you poor results when you spend more money? Isn’t their interest the same as yours – to get you more results so you can spend more money on their platform?
I’ve spent millions of dollars on the platform and done hundreds of different a/b tests to measure the true impact and create the most effective methods for spending more money while sustaining my goals. I can confidently say that as long as you have bid caps (target goals), dramatic increases in your daily budget won’t impact your results (as long as you have a decent amount in your campaigns and the learning phase is complete).
3. DUPLICATING CAMPAIGNS TO INCREASE PERFORMANCE
This is another big misconception. Many advertisers spend too much time reading inaccurate information across Facebook groups and forums, instead of investing that time into learning directly from the source. They follow the herd and when they see more advertisers using this method, they assume it must be valid.
You may reason that creating many different campaigns and duplicating them each time in an effort to create similar results makes sense. But the basic reasoning that goes against this is the way learning is established and how it works in Facebook campaigns.
Each campaign has its own learning system and separate data history. This means that by splitting your campaigns into many different campaigns, you will have many different learning systems and there is very little cross-campaign learning.
So instead of having one rich campaign with a lot of data, you would end up having a lot of campaigns, each of them having very little data history. Because of how Facebook audience optimization works, your initial conversion on each campaign might be cheap, but you will have a very hard time scaling and results will be very unsteady.
Less is more.
Focus on having fewer campaigns and focus on increasing their spend to achieve the best performance.
4. INTERESTS TARGETING WORKS BEST
Because we can’t target keywords on Facebook, everyone loves using Interests. The problem with Interests is that they are very inaccurate and have no supporting evidence from Facebook or any other source that they actually work!
To view how inaccurate they are, check here what Facebook marks as your Interests for your profile. In addition, many of these interests are the same since there is a huge overlap between them.
You’re probably asking, if they don’t work, then why are they offered? Good question…probably because keywords targeting is not available and Facebook wanted to offer a different tool that makes advertisers feel they have more control over their audience.
Again, some Interests might be accurate to some extent for specific people, but performance won’t be improved by using them. The general recommendation is to always go strictly by the optimization algorithm indicators and let the algorithm work without any restrictions.
5. FACEBOOK INCREASES COMPETITION TO INCREASE THE PRICE OF ADS
I hate to break the news, but Facebook doesn’t set the price for advertising, advertisers do. Why would Facebook jack up the price to push out advertisers? Wouldn’t that work against their objective? They want you to be successful so you spend more money, so why would they increase the prices?
The price per impression is determined by the amount of competition and by how much other advertisers are willing to pay for that impression. It’s a bidding system. So if you think the prices are increasing dramatically all the time, I suggest that you examine your overall cost per impression.
Like every market, prices do gradually increase, but if you are seeing a big drop in performance, it might be because your market or product is saturated – simple supply and demand laws.
6. ONLY USE AUTOMATED BIDS, BID/COST CAPS DON’T WORK
I get this a lot. Every time advertisers make a little change in their ads, they think it’s the direct cause once performance drops. The way automated bids/lowest cost strategy works is really simple. You tell Facebook to get you the cheapest results in any given audience and bid.
This means that Facebook will always try to deliver the lowest cost per conversion. But what happens when the lowest cost per conversion they are able to deliver is three times the cost you are willing to pay? How will they know what your goals are if don’t put bid caps or cost caps? They are simply aiming to get you the lowest cost per result, but the lowest cost per result can be bad for your business.
Using bid caps helps Facebook understand how much a conversion is worth to you and what your goals are. If they can’t predict that they are able to deliver you results at a given time for that bid cap, they won’t deliver your ads.
7. THERE ARE SECRET METHODS AND HACKS TO GET BETTER PERFORMANCE
This is kind of like believing that the tooth fairy exists and that it’s not just your mother hiding that quarter under your pillow while you sleep. The greatest thing about Facebook Ads is simplicity.
Everything is visible and extremely easy to use, and there are no magic tricks that marketers can pull out of their hat. The bigger the campaign, the more simple the structure looks.
Big advertisers understand how to leverage the system in the most effective way and that’s why they use the most simple structure and let the optimization algorithm to take over while they focus on the creative work.
8. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS WARM UP YOUR AUDIENCE BEFORE TRYING TO CONVERT THEM
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of campaigns where advertisers spend huge sums of money to invest in educating users about their product before trying to sell it to them. This thought comes from the idea that users need to be warmed up before they are ready to purchase, which can sound rational in some cases.
While this might make sense in the case of brands that sell a very high ticket item and require a lot of work to build product credibility, other brands who sell low ticket items also use this strategy often. They don’t understand that they have very little room to wiggle when it comes to the amount of money they can invest in one potential user.
I am a huge believer in great first impressions, and it’s the first initial interaction that will determine the likelihood of someone being interested in your product. It’s important to understand the economics behind your marketing strategies. If you can convert a user on his first click, why make him go through a series of ads?
If he is not ready to make a purchase on his first ad, how do you know how many times he needs to see an ad before making a decision? Did you measure and test it? Besides, how likely is he to remember your product or brand, considering that in a single day a user sees so many similar ads? Is it worth it?
My general recommendation is to directly highlight your product or offer from day one, then follow up with branding ads that will establish credibility and value (if needed).
9. FACEBOOK CARES ABOUT YOU…
Last but not least, here’s a shocker: Facebook doesn’t care about advertisers. Whether you spend $100 a week, $1000 a day, or a million dollars per month, they don’t care about you. It doesn’t matter how much you spend – if you do anything that it is against their policies, you will be blocked immediately.
The same applies to when you spend a lot of money – they won’t charge you more per impression just because you have a large budget. The price you pay per impression has nothing to do with your advertising spend. So big or small, you will be treated exactly the same and pay the exact same price as all other advertisers.
Facebook Ads myths are everywhere, the vast majority of them don’t have any basis in reality. Be careful whose advice you take and take time to learn about Facebook Ads from official sources.
Facebook Ads was designed to give all advertisers an equal chance and function based on a bidding system. There are no secret tricks or hacks that can help you become successful. Keep your ads simple and use rational thinking and common sense to create the most effective strategy for your business.