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Facebook campaign budget optimization: How marketers must prepare for September 1, 2019

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If you are using Facebook’s Ads Manager, campaign budget optimization (CBO) will become mandatory for all ad campaigns as of September 1, 2019. 

If you are using an API tool like AdRules, you have until September 2020 before it is mandatory.

If you do any advertising on Facebook, you will be affected by this change. It will apply to both new and existing ad campaigns.

If you don’t want a rude awakening on September 1 when CBO activates in Ads Manager and your Facebook campaigns start to behave very differently, you need to start testing campaign budget optimization now.

Example of campaign budget optimization for Facebook AdsManager

While nobody likes mandatory, sudden changes, this is not all doom and gloom. There are some considerable upsides to CBO. You will have to give up some control over your campaigns after September first, but with CBO:

1. You’ll have less to manage

If you spend hours adjusting bids every week, or if you pay someone else to adjust bids every week, much of that bid optimization work will be over.

When campaign budget optimization is activated in Ads Manager, Facebook automatically shifts the ad budget to whichever ad set in a campaign is most effective. You get to control the definition of what “effective” means by specifying a goal for each campaign. Goals that are fairly late in your sales funnel, like a purchase or a download, tend to work best with CBO.

Because all that bid management work will be done by the Facebook algorithm, you may be able to hire less expensive people to manage your campaigns or have your team members work on more networks or accounts. Or, if you’ve been doing those bid edits yourself, you may find you suddenly have extra hours free every week. We recommend using those free hours to develop better creative, to study your competitors’ creative, or to set up a more efficient creative testing machine.

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2. You’ll get a better return on ad spend (ROAS)

While there were some early reports of CBO not working as well as human-managed campaigns, the algorithm has gotten considerably smarter than when it first launched.

We’ve found that if a campaign is set up properly and the bids are high enough, CBO generally can get better results than a human can get.

CBO will also reduce how often your campaigns are put into “learning mode”. That means you won’t get penalized when Facebook’s algorithm reassesses your campaigns.

But you do need to give campaign budget optimization time to work. The algorithm needs about 50 conversions per ad set, per week, before it accrues enough data to ramp up your campaigns. And speaking of ramping up campaigns if you want to scale your campaigns, CBO is extremely effective. Especially if you keep feeding it new, high-quality audiences.

3. You will still be able to control spending (to an extent) with ad set spending limits

If you set a minimum spend for an ad set, Facebook will dutifully spend at least that amount. And if you set a maximum ad set spending limit, Facebook will not go over that limit.

This is a way to set a “governor” of sorts on your spending. It will force Facebook to run ad sets perhaps longer than it might otherwise have, but if you’re not quite ready to relinquish control, ad set spending limits are a way to ease into this new campaign management approach.

Those of you who also advertise with Google’s App Campaigns may have an edge already. Facebook is in some ways following Google’s lead by requiring advertisers to shift over to automated budget optimization.

You could, potentially, get around CBO by creating dozens or even hundreds of campaigns, each with on single ad set. But that would be working against the algorithm. And besides, CBO works well. There aren’t many good reasons to try to circumvent it. Especially when you use it along with other Facebook best practices and Facebook’s simplified campaign structure recommendation.

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Start testing campaign budget optimization now

The benefits of CBO are proven, but you need to start testing now to see how to make it work well for your accounts. We still have a couple of months until the change in Ads Manager, but you may need to run multiple week-long tests to get the hang of this new budgeting strategy.

You may also need to shift how you’ve been defining goals. Using CBO for clicks is a waste of potential. Instead, look towards the end of the buyers’ journey. We like to optimize not just for app installs, but for specific app events like purchases. And not for just two-dollar purchases, we target people who are likely to spend $20 or more.

As you begin to test and measure CBO, don’t get too attached to the results of individual ad sets. Look at the campaign level, as this graphic illustrates:

Comparative study of having vs not having campaign budget optimization

Also, get ready to bump up your creatives. For CBO to work, it often needs several creative assets for each ad set. Including a few videos and elements for dynamic creatives helps too.

Pay close attention to your audiences, too. Many advertisers have found that CBO works best for them if they create separate campaigns for different audiences like one campaign for cold audiences and another campaign for a “warm” audience, like a retargeting audience.

Get ready for things like “The Breakdown Effect” to make your reporting look a little strange at first. “The Breakdown Effect” occurs when discount pacing (how frequently your ads show) intersects with discount bidding and makes it look like the system is overcharging you for conversions. What’s actually happening is the system is trying to find the most affordable conversions first, then it tries to find more expensive conversions.

Graph showing "The Breakdown Effect"

If you do a lot of testing, this breakdown effect pattern may be familiar. It’s similar to how one cell of a test can look like a winner at first but as the data accrue, that early winner falls away and another cell is shown to perform better in the long-term.

Closing thoughts

Facebook is evolving. Everyone knows this, but the CBO change in September for Ads Manager is yet one more example of it happening again. And because Facebook’s advertising platform is evolving, advertisers have to evolve with it, too. If you’re still doing Facebook advertising like you were a year ago, you’re losing money and missing out on better ROAS.

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Brian Bowman is the CEO of ConsumerAcquisition.com.

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MARKETING

What Will It Take To Drive Content Marketing Forward?

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What Will It Take To Drive Content Marketing Forward?

You’re doing everything in your power to craft amazing content.

You sweat over quality, optimize everything to the last keyword, and feed those greedy channel beasts more and more and more.

But the results you get don’t match the effort you put in. What are you doing wrong?

The game has changed. Simply doing the once-right things – and more of them – won’t guarantee wins.

Doing more of the once-right things no longer guarantees #ContentMarketing wins, says @Robert_Rose via @joderama @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Playing to win now means doubling down on strategy

“The content you create provides no sustainable competitive advantage for your business.”

Robert Rose kicked off Content Marketing World 2022 with that bold statement. Even the most exceptional work will be copied, remixed, reimagined, and reissued by other brands and consumers.

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But don’t take that statement as a eulogy for our beloved practice. Instead, celebrate new and different ways of looking at your work, Robert said, starting with your strategy and structure.

Having the right resources (including the strategic roles, teams, and repeatable procedures) lets you fluidly change and evolve all the time.

And that’s where you’ll find your new competitive advantage.

Invest in a remarkable (and human) voice

Take Netflix, for example. The streaming giant made the strategic choice to invest in real, live humans to write the closed caption subtitles for its smash-hit Stranger Things. That choice paid off with the kind of online buzz no brand can buy.

Woman with brown hair and glasses in a floral suit on stage.Marketing Profs Ann Handley brought the backstory to the keynote stage:

Most streamers use automated transcriptions to help people with hearing difficulties follow what’s happening on screen. But Netflix assigned marketing writers to craft vivid descriptions of the sounds accompanying the Stranger Things action.

The evocative and unsettling words they used (wetly squelching, tentacles roiling) caught the attention of younger viewers – a segment that watches shows with captions on regardless of their hearing ability. Earned media mentions skittered across the web, entangling viewers in a whole new viewing (and reading) experience.

The lesson, Ann said, is that voice can carry your brand’s unique personality, even when your brand isn’t mentioned. Investing in it is a strategic choice that sets your brand apart.

“A warm, relatable brand voice is increasingly crucial. It’s how we need to start developing relationships with our audiences, especially in this world of content abundance,” Ann said.

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A warm, relatable brand voice helps develop relationships with your audiences in a world of #content abundance, says @annhandley via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

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Do what others don’t dare

Black man with a mustache and beard wearing a black shirt, sport coat, and black pants on stage.Before Netflix broke the closed-caption mold, marketing visionary Bonin Bough broke publishing conventions.

While writing a book about how mobile phones transformed communication, he hit on a unique idea. Why not put his phone number on the cover, so readers could reach out and continue the dialog?

His publishers balked. So, Bonin purchased the rights from them and published the book his way. Since 2016, more than 50,000 readers of Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life. Let’s Talk About It have called to create a personal connection with him.

A co-founder of Group Black – a media collective and accelerator focused on advancing Black-owned media properties ­– Bonin built his groundbreaking marketing career by thinking differently about what others consider impossible.

Bonin offers advice on how to challenge convention into meaningful marketing actions:

  • Aspire, but have a plan to see ideas through: While aspiration is a significant first step, you must develop the muscle memory to see your ideas to completion. Allocate the time, resources, and effort to execute the ideas.
  • Operate in real-time: The set-it-and-forget-it mentality doesn’t work anymore. Think about how you can change your business to deliver products in real time.
  • Be resourceful: Experimenting with content is not about how much money is available. It’s about how well you use the assets, talent, and resources you have.
  • Operationalize innovation: Look for models you can reverse-engineer to guide the development of your ideas and create guardrails and structures that make innovation more manageable.
  • Be curious: If you build the skill of curiosity, you can foster environments that create change.
  • Don’t give up: A no from stakeholders doesn’t mean your idea is bad. It just means it’s not the right fit under the current situation. Keep workshopping it. If all else fails, consider developing it elsewhere or on your own.

How you use the assets, talent, and resources you have matters more than the size of your budget, says @boughb via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Advocate for a clear content career path

People remain the most valuable (and expensive) content marketing assets. So cultivating content marketing careers is one of the most strategic choices an organization can make.

Upcoming CMI research shared at the conference shows most content marketers are at least somewhat satisfied with their current roles. Yet few feel sure about how they’ll grow in those roles. And of those who do have a clear career path, 20% say they’ll have to leave their employer to get there.

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“We have to build a career path into what it is we do. There’s no way content becomes a strategic function in the business if we don’t look at this. It will always be just a content factory,” Robert said.

White woman with blonde hair wearing a navy blue shirt and green and navy pleated skirt on stage.Jessica Bergmann shared how Salesforce did this. Working with the employee success team, Jessica and colleagues documented a career path for content team members to follow to progress from individual contributors to executive management.

Each company should build a path that suits its structure and culture. But Jessica shared some ideas any brand can use to start seeding opportunities and laying a professional path for content team members:

  • Advocate for integrated content teams: “It’s important that you show up as one company with one voice. We can’t have all different teams creating content everywhere and showing up with different voices and perspectives,” she said.
  • Define content roles and responsibilities clearly: Understand how content-centric teams across the organization collaborate and align their efforts to help content strategy get a seat at the decision-makers’ table.
  • Create democratized performance dashboards: Empower company leadership to see each content asset’s performance without asking for it.
  • Automate the ordinary: Using your automation tools to reduce time spent performing mundane tasks will allow content teams to focus on creating extraordinary and impactful content experiences.

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Set your vision on meaningful change

Perhaps the most urgent strategic question today is this: How will you create content that leads to a meaningful change in the world?

With trust declining in government and other institutions, audiences now expect brands to work toward something beyond their balance sheet. Robert Rose pointed out in his talk that the subhead for Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer is this: “Societal leadership is now a core function of business.”

Light skinned black man wearing a black shirt and black pants on stage. Content Marketing World 2022 on screen in the background.

Mark Harrison brought home the role of content (and individual content practitioners) in this function. A volunteer and entrepreneur who founded sponsorship agency T1 to work exclusively with impactful brands, Mark is committed to making a difference.

“I have a simple personal vision, and that is to create a world of belonging,” he said. “No matter what you look like, what you sound like, or where you come from, you will feel that you belong.”

Mark executes his mission by building what he calls the above-ground railroad, giving the nod to the underground railroad that helped thousands of enslaved people escape to freedom in the United States. The above-ground railroad activates networks of people to bring greater equity and opportunity to those who have been marginalized by society.

Part of that work involves amplifying their struggles and their strengths to those who have the power to increase inclusivity.

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“Amplifying voices is not giving your social pages over to somebody that doesn’t look like you. It’s about showing real courage,” Mark said.

Amplifying voices is about showing real courage, says @MarkHarrison3 via @joderama @CMIContent #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Mark shared a brand example that shows how powerful courageous content can be. When Harry Met Santa, a video from Posten Norge, tells the story of a developing relationship between a man (Harry) and Santa Claus. The video ends with a romantic kiss between the two, followed by this closing line: “In 2022, Norway marks 50 years of being able to love whoever we want.”

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How will you make content better for everyone?

These and other Content Marketing World conversations make one thing clear: You have your work cut out for you.

But you also have an opportunity to rethink your content strategy to create something remarkable. That strategy might include investments in:

  • Talented creators who help develop your brand’s distinctive voice
  • A clear career path that helps you keep your talent
  • New and different approaches to content possibilities
  • Making a societal impact

What takeaways resonate with you? Where do you plan to focus your strategy for the rest of the year and into 2023? Let us know in the comments.

Want more insight from these and other Content Marketing World speakers? Register for an on-demand pass to get access to session recordings through Dec. 31, 2022. Use code BLOG100 to save $100.

 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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