Understanding The Facebook Ads Learning Phase

January 29, 2018

About The Facebook Ads Learning Phase

In the Facebook Ads learning phase, we show ads to different audiences to learn which audience is the mostly likely to get your ads optimized. We do this because when we first start delivering your ad set, we don’t have all the data needed to deliver the ad in the most stable way. So, we have to learn who will most likely lead to optimization events.

Once we gather the data needed, your ad will perform more efficiently and experience less fluctuations. The next step is to make an informed decision about your ad set. If you’re happy with it, you can increase the budget and keep running it as is. Or, if you aren’t satisfied you can make changes to the ad set and try to improve the performance.

Important note: This phase is a normal part of your ad set’s lifecycle and has always existed in the process. Seeing the learning phase occur doesn’t mean that your ad set is having any performance issue, it;s just something we have to do to ensure your ad set performs at its best.

What to Expect During the Learning Phase

During the learning phase, it’s likely that you will see more fluctuations in performance than usual. We recommend that you don’t make any big edits to your ad set during this phase because if you make any significant changes you may have to start the learning phase over.

How Long the Learning Phase Lasts

To complete the learning phase your ad set needs to get approximately 50 optimization events within the first week of the ad set starting to run or the last significant edit made.

Important note: You’ll need to factor in your conversion window if your ad set is optimized for conversions. For example, if your conversion window is 1-day click, the 50 or so conversions you need all have to happen within 1 day of the click that led to them. If you’re using a 7-day-click conversion window, we recommend letting your ad set run for at least 10 days so it has a chance to get conversions that are within that longer window. These numbers are general guidance and could vary by ad set and optimization event.

You might be wondering if the learning phase only ends when your ad set gets 50 results. The answer is no. There are actually two situations that cause the learning phase to end:

  • Your ad set gets about 50 optimization events since the first run or your last significant change. This means that we learned enough to start delivering your ad more stably. Delivery will stabilize further as we gather more data after the learning phase. Keep in mind that another learning phase will be needed if a significant edit is made.
  • Your ad set doesn’t get 50 optimization events and enough time passes. Your ad set’s delivery isn’t stabilized, but we don’t show the learning phase anymore. This can happen if the result your ad set is optimized for is too rare (doesn’t occur the minimum number of times explained above) or if your ad set is not competitive enough in the auction. If this happens, we recommend any/all of the following:

 What Will Reset the Learning Phase

It might seem like any edit will reset the Facebook Ads learning phase but that’s not necessarily true. Every edit you make in your ad set’s lifetime affects it in some way, but not every change resets the learning phase. If the edit isn’t significant, the learning phase won’t reset. However, we may need to update our learning with additional optimization events to ensure the delivery remains stable. If the learning phase does reset, we’ll need another 50 optimizations or so to regain stable delivery.

Edits that will reset the learning phase:

  • Any change to targeting
  • Any change to ad creative
  • Any change to optimization event
  • Pausing your ad set or the campaign your ad set is in (the learning phase will reset once you un-pause the ad set / campaign)

Edits that may reset the learning phase:

  • Bid amount (or bid cap amount / cost target)
  • Budget amount (unless you’re using the target cost bid strategy , in which case budget changes of any magnitude are not considered significant edits)

Whether or not these changes reset the Facebook Ads learning phase depends on how significant they are. For example, if you increase your budget from $100 to $101, that isn’t likely to reset the learning phase. However, if you change your budget from $100 to $1000, that may reset the learning phase.

Learn more about Facebook’s delivery system.