This Facebook Ads myths post was written for the first time in early 2015.
At that time the most common myths were things like: “Facebook Ads are just for branding”, or “Most Facebook Ad clicks are fake”, also “Facebook Ads are not a good way to promote B2B products”, and more.
And we debunked them. ALL!
At the end of 2016, we had a new whole set of Facebook ads myths.
Legends like: “Instagram Ads Cost Too Much/Don’t Matter”, and “Facebook like Likes Don’t Matter” or the everlasting “Facebook Ads is Dead”. And we debunked them too.
Nowadays, Facebook is seen by most marketers as both a mature platform and a reliable advertising channel. However, some early-day myths have survived and it’s time to debunk them, once and for all.
Facebook Ads Myth #1: You can’t have more than 20% text in an image
It’s true that Facebook prefers clear, uncluttered images and for the text to be presented in the ad copy instead. After all, that’s what the ad text, headline, link description and call to action button is for.
It’s also true that up until mid-2016 any ad with more than 20% of the image taken up by text would be completely rejected but it’s a myth that this is still the case.
Since then the rules have been relaxed and images are instead given a rating: from “Ok” to “High”.
If your image has too much text then Facebook can send you warning emails that look really serious:
This has led to some advertisers mistakenly claiming that images still always need to have under 20% text to have any chance of being delivered.
That’s not the case, we often run ads with text-heavy images at AdEspresso leading to lots of comments left on our ads asking “how is that even possible” or asking if Facebook Marketing Partners can break the rules.
Truthfully, we don’t have a preferential treatment with our ads. And no, we can’t break the rules.
But we know a thing or two about how Facebook ads work, and we love when we can use our knowledge to help you grow your business. Both through our articles, guides and University experiments, and through our marketing Services, a wild bunch of top Facebook ads expert (like Paul Fairbrother) that will go above and beyond to let you achieve great results.
Back to our “text-heavy” ad. How did it perform?
Not bad uh?
Think of the Facebook ad delivery system like a queue for fast food. Imagine the restaurant has 100 burgers. It doesn’t matter if you are number 1 or number 80 in the queue, you still get your burger.
This is similar to your advert, it doesn’t matter what priority it is given if there is available space in the newsfeed.
However, if there are 100 burgers but you’re 120th in the queue then you’re going to go hungry.
This is similar to the holiday season when there are more ads in the queue then there is available space in the newsfeed.
In this case, even the slightest issue with your ad can send it to the back of the queue.
And this is why we see ads with excessive text that get good distribution for most of the year and then get shut down during the holiday season.
Facebook Ads Myth #2: Instagram is only for advertising to millennials
While it’s definitely true that Instagram attracts a higher percentage of younger users, a lot of advertisers haven’t kept up with how fast Instagram is growing.
Internal figures suggest user numbers have now hit the one billion mark, and the latest public figures confirm there are at least 800 million monthly active users and 500 million daily active users on the photo-sharing platform.
Clearly, one billion users can’t all be millennials taking photos of their avocado ice cream, that figure must be including a large number of people from older age groups.
Compare this to Twitter with 330 million monthly active users, just over 200 million for Pinterest and about the same for Snapchat. That means the 800 million Instagram user base is larger than Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat combined.
When looking for a second advertising option to complement your Facebook advertising, Instagram IS the place to go regardless of what age range you are targeting if you are looking for volume.
As Facebook ads can be shown on Instagram it means there is no extra effort required to include Instagram in your marketing mix.
Instagram Stories now has over 300 million daily active users, if you’re looking to try something different with your marketing in 2018 try some Instagram Stories adverts, regardless of your audience demographic, you’re guaranteed to reach a large audience.
Facebook Ads Myth #3: A High CPM is Bad
CPM or “cost per mille” is the cost per 1,000 impressions of your advert. It makes sense that (all things being equal) a low CPM is better as you’ll get more distribution of your advert at a cheaper price.
The problem is all things are rarely equal when it comes to Facebook advertising.
Every time you place a Facebook ad it goes into an auction and the price you pay depends on how many advertisers are bidding for the same audience and how much they are willing to pay.
It’s a common myth to think that the lower the CPM the better, but let’s see what a low CPM actually means.
If we aim for a low CPM we are effectively saying to Facebook “get me the cheapest possible ad views” which Facebook interprets as “find me the very cheapest views by serving ads to a junk audience which no one else wants”. This audience is cheap for a reason, no one is bidding on them because they never click on anything and never take action such as filling in a lead form or purchasing from a website.
We all have that one elderly relative who stalks the family on Facebook but never shops online.
When you optimize a cold traffic campaign for impressions these are the type of people you reach! When you optimize for video views it’s even worse, you reach the people that haven’t even thought to turn off autoplay on their videos like most heavy Facebook users have.
Often when asked to troubleshoot a campaign the client will expect to hear that the CPM is too high but my response is usually that it’s too low.
As an example in the US in 2018, we analyzed campaigns optimized for link clicks and the CPM was under $8 compared to a CPM of $14 when optimized for conversions.
It’s obvious, people that buy are more expensive to reach than those that just click on ads.
A quality audience costs money because they are in high demand and they are in demand because they’re clicking on ads and regularly buying things.
A high CPM indicates your audience quality is also higher and that can lead to better results. There’s a balance, you want to keep CPM under control but don’t worry if it’s a bit higher than usual, that just means you’re reaching a good quality audience.
Facebook Ads Myth #4: You pay more for ads with a low relevance score
For Google AdWords, the price you pay depends on your bid, how much competition there is and your Quality Score.
It’s often assumed that Facebook works the same way with the Relevance Score replacing the Quality Score but this isn’t the case.
If we turn to Facebook’s help center we can slay this myth:
To be clear Facebook does look at quality indicators in the auction system so generally a higher relevance score will lead to a lower cost per click and cheaper traffic may well result in a cheaper cost per conversion. Just keep in mind that the relevance score is just one ad metric among many to take into consideration.
As Facebook go on to explain:
Just as for the frequency rate (which we’ll discuss in myth 7), if your relevance score is low but the campaign is generating good results keep it running.
Facebook Ads Myth #5 Dayparting saves you money
Do you advertise a pizza delivery service using Facebook? If so go ahead and use dayparting, not many people are going to order a pizza at 6am.
If you’re not selling pizza then read on.
A majority of products and services being promoted on Facebook aren’t time specific. Facebook’s algorithm knows this as well and doesn’t spend your budget evenly across the day. Instead, ad spend is focused around the times that most of the audience is online.
In Facebook Ads Manager click on the Account Overview tab and take a look at the hourly breakdown of the amount spent.
We can see that there’s no point in turning off ads overnight, this has already been taken care of.
It’s also sometimes tempting to think that we should run ads Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, but the peak times for Facebook are more likely to be evening and weekends when people have some spare time to scroll through their newsfeed.
Even if you see some variation by time of day resist the urge to use dayparting as the Facebook algorithm likes to be left alone and allowed to run 24/7 to optimize.
Turning the campaign on and off multiple times a day just causes optimization issues and distribution problems. Accept there is some randomness hour by hour and let the algorithm tick along and allocate the budget at the best times of the day.
Facebook Myth #6: Using Manual Bidding is Best
So you think that humans are smarter than an algorithm, right? And that you know your customers better than Facebook, so nothing can beat your brain at analyzing all your adsets and give the best ones a higher bid and the underperforming ones a lower bid.
Basically, you think you can beat Facebook’s automatic bidding, right?
Let’s get all zen for a moment: A click costs what a click costs. A conversion costs what a conversion costs.
What that means is if a click costs $1.00 on average for that campaign then if we decide to bid $0.50 Facebook won’t suddenly do a deal with us and agree to halve its prices, an auction system doesn’t work like that.
It’s true we can get lucky and get a few clicks at the lower price but the volume will be far lower, as we outlined in our experiment: Facebook Ads Bidding Experiment: Automatic or Manual? The Surprising Winner.
When we bid too low we drastically reduce the volume of conversions and ad spend and delivery can be erratic.
As covered in the above section on dayparting the algorithm likes to have consistent delivery to give the best results, also regular conversions help Facebook to quickly complete the learning phase.
Wrapping it up: Unfortunately for us humans often Facebook is smarter than us and automated bidding usually gives the best results.
Facebook Ads Myth #7: A High Frequency Rate Is Bad
This myth needs a bit of context as it depends on the campaign structure.
Take for example this campaign:
With a frequency of nearly 20, logic says it should have been turned off a long time ago.
But let’s look at the results:
$14k of ad spend has resulted in a revenue of $165K! In this case, the revenue is more important than the frequency.
The secret to success is to not target users for too many days.
A suggestion for retargeting campaigns is to use a 7 day window to create an “evergreen” campaign, this means that although a user may see several ads from you a day (but not more than one every six hours) they only see your ads for a week and then drop out of the retargeting sequence.
So, next time you hear this Facebook myth remember: a high frequency rate can be the sign of a failing campaign but if the frequency is high and the ROI is still good then let it run.
This article can be summarized in just 6 words. The AdEspresso motto:
Never assume anything. Always test everything.
No matter what you hear from self-proclaimed Facebook Ad Gurus, always take it with a grain of salt.
Don’t believe everything you read. It might be dead wrong or just way out of date and no longer true. With as little as $100, you can run your own test and confirm what you’ve read before investing further. Start doing that now!
Have we left out any other Facebook Ad myths? Let us know in the comments!