Since 2018, Facebook’s algorithm has been rapidly changing to make users’ time on the platform more meaningful and valuable. In an effort to be more transparent and give users control of what they see, Facebook made critical updates in early 2020. 

What is the Facebook Ads Algorithm?

The Facebook Algorithm works to serve ads to the people most likely to convert based on the campaign goal. Since the social platform doesn’t provide much visibility into how the algorithm works, advertisers and brands are forced to be creative with the execution of their media. By allowing campaigns to stay automated, Facebook streamlines ads and delivers them straight to target audiences. While it might be difficult to fully trust the algorithm, brands can still control and optimize their campaigns however and whenever they want.

What Facebook Algorithm changes can brands expect in 2020?

  • Users can click the button on the top right corner of an ad to select “Why am I seeing this ad?” to learn more about why certain content is appearing in their feeds.
  • Users can choose to hide all ads from specific advertisers. 
  • Users can make changes to their ad preferences by adjusting settings to personalize their ads.
  • Users can hide or report ads that are irrelevant or not of interest to them.

How can brands prepare for Facebook algorithm  changes?

The most recent changes to the Facebook algorithm allow users to choose their own adventure when it comes to the ads they’re served. Each time a user hides a brand’s ads, potential reach decreases and costs increase. The top three reasons users hide ads is irrelevancy, repetitiveness or they are already a customer. To combat this, brands should be cognizant of both ad quality and frequency. Customer lists should also be updated in the platform regularly and excluded from target audiences to avoid wasted impressions.

What should brands control when placing ads on Facebook? 

Brands are able to rely on the algorithm for smaller optimizations, but factors such as objective, budget and ad format still need to be set by the brand. Objectives should be based on the advertiser’s goals and KPIs and ad format should align with the campaign objective. This approach will allow the algorithm to make more educated optimizations. 

Budget is one of the most important factors given the recent algorithm changes, as it correlates with reach and frequency. It’s extremely important to use historical data and forecasting tools when planning Facebook ad budgets. If a brand allocates too much budget to a campaign, it risks inundating users with the same ads. If the budget is too small, the campaign might never advance beyond the learning phase– when the algorithm first tests placements, times of day, audiences, etc. A lack of learning can negatively impact the algorithm’s optimizations for the remainder of the campaign.  

What should brands let the Facebook Ads algorithm control? 

There are times when optimizations are better off under Facebook’s control. For example, placement type. When setting your placement type to auto-optimize, it allows Facebook to find the best place to run your ad and often leads to the greatest relevance within the algorithm. 

What should be controlled by the algorithm and the brand?

As the Facebook algorithm has evolved, targeting has become more important than ever. This is a space where manual optimizations and the algorithm work well together. Brands should create broad target audiences using a combination of demographics, interests and custom audiences. The Facebook algorithm is then able to use audience data that isn’t available to advertisers to optimize on the backend. Advertisers are able to see performance by certain demographics, but Facebook still doesn’t provide significant transparency when it comes to targeting reports. Setting up the target audience and then allowing the algorithm to take over is the best way to achieve optimal performance. 

These are just a few steps a brand can take in order to ensure success within the ever changing algorithm of Facebook. As the social platform continues to become more transparent, it’s important for advertisers to trust the process, test continuously and stay in close contact with Facebook for updates and best practices.