5 Facebook ad Optimization Rules to Steal (And 5 Reasons Why You Need Them)

There are a million and one things to manage with Facebook campaigns. A seemingly never ending slew of variables from placements to devices to campaign types, objectives, creatives, and hell – even CTAs.

Tons of stuff to sweat.

Thankfully there’s a silver lining. Facebook’s optimization rules can help you automate many of the time-consuming tasks that suck away at your day.

The trick to using this nerdy feature, though, is knowing what you’re solving for. The strategy behind the actions or conditions to choose.

Here are five reasons you should be using them ASAP (along with another five to copy and paste into your own campaigns).

Growing revenue is hard.

Scaling Facebook ad campaigns to hit meaningful growth targets is hard.

Good execution – whether that’s design creative or copywriting – is hard.

Managing the basic, day-to-day changes, shouldn’t be.

5 Reasons You Should Be Using Optimization Rules

Let’s be honest:

Optimization rules are nerdy. There’s no way around it.

On the face of it, they seem like one of those geeky, superfluous features only hardcore Facebook advertisers would find value in.

Hundreds of thousands on the line? Cool — you’d probably be knee deep in optimization rules.

Everyone else? Why bother. Sounds like a 1% improvement while you should be chasing 10% improvements, instead.

So they’re easy to dismiss. (Or more appropriately, completely ignore.)

But that would be a mistake.

Because beyond cutting out some of the boring, time-consuming stuff out of your day, there are five extremely compelling reasons to use optimization rules.

1. You need enough reliable data before pulling the plug too early.

But Facebook ads don’t work,” is the common whine you’ll hear from people who throw down $100 bucks without understanding how the platform actually works.

Case in point: The objective you pick.

The little setting, alllll the way at the beginning, can often dictate what results you eventually see. Facebook needs to see enough reliable data in order to self-optimize or self-correct over time.

And what commonly happens, is that someone gets cold feet before that happens. So they pull the plug too early before realizing any of the benefits.

So yeah. You might see a high Cost Per Click for a few hours or days. But that’s no reason to quit before you get started.

Optimization rules can save you from yourself. You can create a ‘backstop’ to pause a campaign if the CPC is too high… but only after analyzing previous performance over a few days (so that results average out).

2. But ad performance will rot over time if left unchecked.

Facebook ads decline over time. There’s no way around it unfortunately.

Banner blindness takes hold. Frequency creeps up. And ad fatigue sets in. Performance drops like a rock.

AdEspresso’s own data shows that you can see CTR declines as quickly as three days! And a 50% decline in only five days.

There are ways around it. Tips and tactics and hacks to counter with.

But optimization rules can help keep you on guard, alerting you to any possible drop-offs before they happen (and before ad budgets get squandered).

3. Cost Per Clicks can be a vanity metric.

This ad has a cost per engagement of $2.30. Not bad!  50% better than your other ones.

Which means… what exactly?

How does that get you closer to your ultimate goal of, you know, actually making money?

Cost per Clicks can work the same way.

A $2 CPC in one industry is expensive. In another, it’s cheap.


Because the ultimate metric you’re after is Cost Per Lead. Cost Per Conversion or Action.

For example, Digital Marketer ran a test.

They used the same exact ad with the same exact targeting. The only difference was the objective:


The first campaign generated 59 leads on $460.81 for a $7.81 cost per lead.

(image source)

While the second generated 332 conversions on $458.63 for only a $1.38 Cost Per Lead.

(image source)

Five times more leads for 20% of the cost.

What were the CPC’s for each one?  

Who knows and who cares!

4. Define the limits of your scenario analysis.

Ad campaigns aren’t static. They move and evolve over time.

On the one hand, that makes it difficult to know what’s going to work ahead of time. In fact, you often don’t. It’s impossible. You just gotta roll the dice sometimes.

But on the other hand, that means you can prepare a simple scenario analysis to create your own internal checkpoints. A few minutes on a spreadsheet will help you define those ‘outer limits’ of a campaign. You’re able to identify ranges for all critical variables (like acceptable CPCs, CTRs, or CPLs) so you can adjust course as needed.

For example, a higher CPC is ok (as we’ve learned) if you’re able to convert a higher percentage of those people. The math still pencils out at the end of the day. Everyone wins.

But if conversion rates start dropping off below a certain point, and CPCs creep up at the same time, you’ve got a problem.

Optimization rules help you define the scenarios that work in your business. You can set limits on either side to know that if (and when) ad performance starts going off the rails, it’ll catch you before it’s too late.

5. And sometimes performance drops with no easy explanation.

Spearmint Love has grown 991% year over year thanks in large part to Facebook ads.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few speed bumps along the way.

Co-founder, John Lott, had no idea why ROI suddenly started falling off a cliff in his campaigns in 2016.

His initial thought? Ad fatigue.

They must be going stale. Time to make a few tiny tweaks.

But results didn’t budge. In fact, they only got worse. And he didn’t know why for a full six months.

Apparently “the cohort simply moved on,” according to their excellent Facebook ad success story on BigCommerce.

They sell baby clothes. Babies don’t stay babies forever.

“His work to change the superficial variables had failed. His copywriting wasn’t off. His understanding of human growth and progression during the child-rearing stage was.”

Two lessons:

  1. ‘Macro’ factors have a much bigger influence over ‘micro’ ones we obsess over, and
  2. Sometimes those ‘macro’ factors are external and you have absolutely no control over them


So piggybacking on the past few points, optimization rules help you hedge your bet. They can help you avoid the downside while taking advantage of the upside.

If (and when) external factors start influencing results, you’re safe. And instead of getting bogged down in Facebook ad minutia, you can stay focused on the big picture stuff.

5 Optimization Rules to Copy, Paste and Enjoy

So. Optimization rules are still nerdy.

But they’re the good kind of nerdy. Harmless and helpful. Like Urkel.

Optimization rules have condition and action options.

You define conditions (like a CPC rising above a certain amount), and a subsequent action is performed (like pausing the campaign). Here’s what else you can set:


Sounds easy enough, right?!

Good. Let’s look at a few samples to get you started that you can simply copy and paste into your own AdEspresso account.

1. Send Yourself Status Notifications

This is about as easy as it gets. But it’s important.

If you’ve got tons of ads or campaigns running with multiple optimization rules, things start changing fast.

The easy way to stay up-to-date is by sending yourself a simple status update.

Karola recommends one every 24 hours. That way you’ll get a simple digest of all automated updates (without having to do all the time-consuming, manual checking).

2. Automatically Cap Your Frequency

Frequency is a leading indicator. (It can also be misleading. But that’s a topic for another day.)

So when it starts creeping up to a certain point with a valuable audience, you can automatically start backing those campaigns off.

Karola recommends also simply lowering the bid on ad sets, too.

3. Avoid Overspending on Underperforming Campaigns

One of the biggest optimization rule benefits is saving your budget (or @$$) when things go awry.

So you can set up a few ‘backstops’ to limit the downside.

For example, if CPC’s start increasing and you’re worried about overpaying, you can hit the pause button quickly.

You can also go further into the funnel, pausing campaigns when your Cost Per Acquisition starts creeping up as well.

You can also use it to create caps on how much you’re spending within a given time.

Using these together gives you a way to manage campaigns fluidly.

Meaning: A single max daily budget cap isn’t very helpful in practice. Sure, it helps you avoid spending too much in aggregate. But it can also handicap performance when things are going well.

Instead, using a few of these optimization rules in concert gives you the best of both worlds.

4. Conversions Matter. Not Costs. So Increase Bids, Too!

Cost Per Click doesn’t always matter when Cost Per Acquisition does.

That means there’s many times when you purposefully want to increase bids in order to stage a land grab.

But once again, you can (and should) add even more nuance by combining multiple rules to work together.

This next example comes courtesy of Jon Loomer. Here’s the gist:

“I am having Facebook increase my budget by 50% if the CPC is under $.15, lower it by 50% if it’s over $.25 and stop it if it’s over $.30.

We’ll see how this goes, but this could allow me to leverage strong performance by increasing budget sooner while cutting back waste when something just isn’t working.”

So you’re creating three rules that work together. You’re setting limits to:

  1. Capitalize on the upside (e.g. “increase bids under $0.25 CPC)
  2. Minimize the damage (e.g. “lower bids if over $0.25 CPC)
  3. Avoid the downside (e.g. “pause if greater than $0.30 CPC)

5. Same Applies to Free Conversions, Too

Increasing or decreasing bids is tricky when you’re dealing with ‘free’ conversions, like using a lead magnet to add new subscribers and data sync them into your email marketing service.

(Technically speaking, most companies should have a theoretical cost (or value) per subscriber. But I can count on one hand the times a client actually knew their Cost Per Lead off the top of their head. So asking for a Cost Per Email is asking a bit much.)

Once again, Jon has experimented with two different scenarios in order to keep performance humming while also limiting the risk of overpaying on ‘free’ subscribers.

First up, he wants to automatically ditch the ‘loser’ campaigns that ain’t delivering.

Then he also wants to stop any campaigns where the Cost Per Acquisition is becoming too expensive for these early prospects.

His threshold in the example above is a dollar. So that’s a decent play to start if you haven’t already identified this metric.


Life is complex enough. Facebook ads are, too.

So there’s no reason we need to make managing them any more difficult.

No reason we need to keep wasting precious hours checking and rechecking campaigns every hour to make simple adjustments.

Optimization rules, while seemingly complex on the surface, are actually pretty easy once you get the hang of them.

They’re also incredibly useful; helping you in a variety of ways to make campaigns changes in real-time based on the performance you’re seeing.

The secret is not to create them from scratch, but simply copy them outright. You need to understand the underlying strategy you’re solving for. And then you can simply hit Copy and Paste to load them into your campaign in all of a few seconds.

It might take you thirty minutes or so to get the hang of it. But doing that one time to save at least thirty minutes every day after seems like a good use of your time.