In paid social advertising, nine out of ten ads will fail. That’s why high-volume ad testing on social media is so critical.
You’re probably not launching enough new ads to hit your goals. With changing algorithms and creative styles, it’s more important than ever to refresh your ad creative and unlock new audiences.
Here at Primer, we aim for 50 new ads for every $25,000 in ad spend.
Why do we recommend launching 50+ new ads per month?
Testing a high volume of ad creative in paid social helps in four key ways:
- Improves critical metrics like CPA and ROAS
- Keeps ad creative from growing stale (this is increasingly important as converting creative styles change)
- Unlocks new audiences (this is particularly helpful for content-marketing-focused brands
- Leads to a more sustainable growth strategy (Bonus: Consistent testing means you can find wins even as algorithms change)
Won’t testing that much hurt CPA?
Short answer: no.
Using a regular, high-volume testing cadence, we scaled purchase volume by 60% and increasing conversion rate by 65% over a 3-month period for one of our partners.
You can expect a new ad set to increase CPA during its learning phase (right after launching); however, if you structure your test correctly, you can minimize the impact.
Here’s how: create your test in a separate ad set and make sure this testing ad set budget should be less than half of your overall monthly ad spend. This means any spikes in CPA should be both temporary and minor.
In the long run, you’re much more likely to hit your goals with regular testing than by leaving the same two to three ads active for months at a time. This is because of “creative fatigue.” Over time, an ad that was once a strong performer loses its efficiency, and CPAs start to increase. By consistently finding new wins, you can defend your account against this phenomenon and unlock new strategic learnings to use in your future tests, content marketing, email campaigns, and more.
This is particularly true on TikTok, where creative fatigue happens much faster than on Meta.
Here’s what to test in new ads
Launching dozens of ads per month means you should be able to run multiple split tests.
For our purposes, a paid media “split test” means trying out multiple new variations of one element of an ad while keeping everything else the same. And then seeing how those new ads or audiences perform against the old “winner” (i.e. your control ad).
Here are some elements of ads you should test regularly:
- Image Headlines
- Calls to action (CTAs)
- Video thumbnails
- Landing pages
Try testing out new colors, layouts, phrases, and more. Maybe your audience likes emojis, or maybe they’re more into facts and stats. You won’t know until you try those elements.
How to launch a lot of ad tests fast
(This works for TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram)
Step 1: Set up a new test ad set in your the campaign with your current goal (e.g. Website Purchases)
- For audience tests, use your past top-performing ads with a new ad set audience
- For all other types of tests, use your top-performing audience with new ads within the ad set
- Tip: Make sure you name your ad set so that you can easily tell what it’s testing at a glance. (example: 2022_Purchase_ImageTest_THEME)
Step 2: Launch Ads in Bulk
- Batch together ads in a new test, changing one element (e.g. the copy) and keeping all other elements the same, as a control
- For example, when you test 15 new copy variations, use your top-performing image and audience
- On Facebook, we recommend launching ad sets with 10 – 25 ads in them, though you can go up to 50
- On TikTok, we recommend keeping tests to between 4-6 ads per ad set
Step 3: Set Your Budget
- You want to make sure your budget is high enough that your test can exit the learning phase within 1 – 1.5 weeks. Since the learning phase is generally more expensive, this will help minimize the impact of new launches on your overall CPA.
- For most Facebook campaigns, we recommend using ad set budget optimization (ABO) to have increased control in your test spend. For TikTok, if your budget is under $100k per month, the best option is usually CBO because of the increased creative turnover rates. [Here’s more about setting up TikTok ad campaigns.]
- For Facebook, Instagram and TikTok here’s how much you should spend:
- For ad set budget optimization (ABO): set a daily budget that will yield a minimum of 3x conversions a day with your average CPA
- For campaign budget optimization (CBO): pick a daily budget that ensures you can hit at least 50 conversions per week in the campaign
Step 4: Pause Bottom Performers
- After 48 – 72 hours, you can begin pausing bottom-performing ads (Note: Changes in iOS App Tracking Transparency mean there can be up a 72-hour delay in conversion reporting)
- Pause ads with a higher-than-average CPA
- Continue this process for 1-2 weeks (depending on your budget)
- Once you have 1-4 ads left that either beat the previous period’s average CPA or beat your goal CPA, those are your WINS
Step 5: Scale Wins and Repeat
- First, scale the budget to the wins in the test ad set (for ABO) or campaign (for CBO)
- Then, iterate off of those wins for your next test
- Make sure to keep all elements except what you’re testing the same so you can compare performance between the new ads and the control (i.e., the previous wins)
Routinely testing on paid media is the best way to ensure long-term success and growth for your brand.
If the above process feels familiar, it should. At its core, split testing on paid media is grounded in the scientific method.
As you get more information about what performs for your buyer personas (and, perhaps, why), your ads should lead to more conversions from your key audiences and unlock new audiences to expand into.
Still curious about how our methodology works in practice?
See how we launched over 2,200 ads in six weeks for Madison Reed to get them 41% more customers.
Or, book a consultation to get a free growth plan below.