How to Scale Facebook Ads: What You Should Know

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve had a once successful Facebook Ads campaign that tanked after you either increased the budgets or tried to scale it.

Right?

If this is you, don’t take it too seriously – it happens to the best of us. In fact, scaling is one of the hardest aspects of running Facebook Ads campaigns.

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In this article, we’ll cover some of the most basic mistakes advertisers often make when scaling their ads, and some of the most common methods to increase your budgets successfully.

What Does Scaling Mean?

Scaling essentially means carefully increasing your daily spends – while trying to maintain the same (or close) cost per result.

It’s as simple as that.

But if it really is that simple, can’t we just increase the budget on our best-performing campaigns?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Why Can’t I Just Increase My Budgets?

Facebook’s algorithm is extremely delicate, and even the smallest changes in an active campaign can cause major fluctuations in performance.

You’ve likely noticed this on your own, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. Here’s why that is.

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For a short period of time after you launch a new campaign (or ad set), each time an ad is shown, Facebook’s algorithm learns more about the type of users who are driving good results and uses this information to deliver more ads to similar users.

In turn, this results in lower overall costs. Simple, right?

Now, what’s important to know is that this short period of time is known as Facebook’s Learning Phase – and whenever you make any considerable change to any active campaign or ad set, it will reset.

In turn, it can cause your costs to increase as Facebook restarts its’ Learning Phase.

What’s Facebook’s Learning Phase?

In Facebook’s own words, the Learning Phase is…

“(…) the period when the delivery system still has a lot to learn about an ad set. During the learning phase, the delivery system is exploring the best way to deliver your ad set – so performance is less stable and cost-per-action (CPA) is usually worse. The learning phase occurs when you create a new ad or ad set or make a significant edit to an existing one.”

In short, if you want to successfully scale your Facebook Ads campaigns, you want to make sure you avoid resetting the learning phase as much as possible.

What Can Cause Facebook’s Learning Phase to Reset?

To avoid resetting Facebook’s learning phase, you want to make sure you don’t make any significant edits to active campaigns, or ad sets.

A “significant edit” can be, according to Facebook, anything from…

  • Changes to your ads.
  • Significant changes to your budgets.
  • Pausing your ad set for 7 days or longer.
  • Changing bid strategies.
  • Changes to optimization events.
  • And more.

You can read more about this in Facebook’s official documentation here. You can also use the “Inspect” tool in your ad sets to see your Significant Edit History.

Facebook's significant edit history panel in the ads manager.

Now, with all that said, how can we scale our ads without resetting our learning phase?

How to Scale Facebook Ads: Two Methods

There are two “main” methods of scaling your Facebook Ads campaigns:

  • Vertical Scaling: consists of slowly increasing your daily budgets on active campaigns, or ad sets over a period of time.
  • Horizontal Scaling: consists of creating new campaigns or ad sets, and reaching different audiences, thus increasing your overall account spend.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between each method, and some of the pros and cons of each one.

How to Scale Facebook Ads with Vertical Scaling

The key to successful vertical scaling is to incrementally increase your budgets across your most successful campaigns, or ad sets.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you now know that significant changes to your budget on active campaigns can cause Facebook’s learning phase to reset.

But what does a “significant budget increase” mean?

While there isn’t a clear official answer from Facebook on this, a lot of experts agree that a significant increase is anything above 20% to 30%.

In other words, if you want to use vertical scaling:

  • Don’t increase your budget by more than 20% to 30% every day. We typically increase our budgets by no more than 15%, to be safe, but this can change depending on how aggressively we want to scale.*
  • Avoid making multiple changes to your budgets on the same day. Each time you change your budget, there’s a chance you’ll reset the learning phase.

*We typically find that campaigns using campaign budget optimization can be scaled more aggressively without resetting the learning phase.

Vertical Scaling: Pros & Cons

There are a few benefits to this method, but the main one is that it’s:

  • Less time-consuming. With a few tweaks, you can increase your budget and scale your campaigns without the need of creating new audiences, creatives, or other elements.

On the other hand, vertical scaling does have a few limitations.

  • Riskier. If the campaign you want to scale is bringing in most of your account’s results, a budget increase can jeopardize the account’s entire results. It can be frustrating to see a once top-performing campaign stop performing all of a sudden, especially when it was once bringing in most of your sales/results.
  • Audience saturation. Unless you’re targeting very broad audiences, there’s a risk you’ll eventually deplete your audience when you scale.
  • It takes time. Since you can only increase your budget in small increments, it will take time to reach significant investment levels.

How to Scale Facebook Ads with Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling relies on spreading out your budget across multiple different audiences, and creatives.

The main benefit of this method is that since you’re not making any edits to your active campaigns, you run no risk of resetting the learning phase on your top-performing campaigns.

Sure, your new campaigns (or ad sets) will still need to enter the learning phase, but you won’t risk ruining the results in your already proven campaigns.

For example, to scale horizontally you could:

  • Expand into broader lookalikes. If you’re targeting a 1% lookalike audience based on website visitors, try creating a new campaign or ad set targeting a 2% lookalike audience based on website visitors, too.
  • Expand into other countries. If you sell to multiple different countries, try creating new campaigns for different countries.
  • Try open targeting. A common horizontal scaling technique is to add no interests or lookalike audiences, and exclusively target with demographics.*

*This is only recommended if you’re using conversion-focused campaigns.

Horizontal Scaling: Pros & Cons

As with vertical scaling, there are pros and cons to this method. As for the pros:

  • Faster to scale. Since you can expand into an almost unlimited supply of audiences, you can quickly create several new campaigns and quickly increase your spends.
  • Less risky. Since you’re not required to edit your top-performing campaigns, you can comfortably create new campaigns with low budgets and adjust accordingly, without running the risk of ruining your current results.
  • No audience fatigue. When fatigue starts to kick in, you can create and reach new audiences to lower your account frequency.

However, there are downsides to horizontal scaling, too.

  • Can be more expensive. When you expand into new and broader audiences, you’re likely to reach less relevant users who aren’t as likely to convert. In other words, higher costs per result.
  • Takes more time. Between audience research, setups, and creatives, you’ll need to spend more time to scale your account.
  • Can become confusing. As you create new campaigns, your account may become heavy with too many campaigns making it harder to navigate and manage.

Which Method Should I Use?

The short answer is both.

If you’re unsure about which method suits you best, you should take into consideration:

  • How quickly you want to scale. If you’re more focused on getting sales faster at the expense of more profitable sales, then you should focus on horizontal scaling to speed up the process. If you can afford to scale slowly, then vertical scaling might be best.
  • Your budget. Horizontal scaling requires more budget to start with since you want to make sure you have enough budget for all ad sets to properly exit the learning phase within the first week or so of results.
  • Your audience size. If you’re targeting a small geo-location with a small audience size, then it might be harder to scale – both horizontally, or vertically.

Closing Thoughts

It’s very easy to see your results turn south when scaling your Facebook Ads – especially if you don’t know the best practices for increasing budgets without blowing through your budget.

In this article we covered some of the basics of scaling Facebook ads campaigns – we hope this helped!

What are some things you’ve found to be most difficult when managing a Facebook Ad campaign? Is there anything we should have included in this article but didn’t? Drop us a comment below and let’s talk!

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