Increasing Ad Performance: Lessons From Meta's Performance Marketing Summit

October 17, 2023

Last week I was invited to attend Meta’s Performance Marketing Summit. They talked a lot about the future of AI (including the hundreds of millions of dollars they keep pumping into) and the powers/importance of creative. 

They also dove deep into their Performance 5 Framework –  A strategy of their "best practices" that are designed to empower advertisers and optimize campaigns for maximum performance (what I takeaway as “let us do our thing and stop thinking you are better than our machine”).

However, in a media buying world where their (Meta) “best practices” don’t always equate to best results, there were some solid takeaways from it and I’ll share them with you AS WELL as their beliefs.

The Performance 5 Framework encompasses five key areas: Account Simplification, Creative Differentiation, Automation, Data Quality, and Results Validation. Lets look at each one. 

1. Account Simplification: They want you to get out of the learning phase fast

Meta emphasizes the importance of streamlining advertising accounts to exit the learning phase as fast as possible (although we’ve personally seen results while in learning phase) in order to help advertisers achieve optimal performance quickly. According to Meta's recommendations, no more  than 20% of the ad spend budget should be in learning phase. So by simplifying your account structure and focusing on fewer variables, you can technically speed up the optimization process and achieve desired outcomes more efficiently.

2. Creative Differentiation: Different formats by leveraging different ad types

Creative differentiation is a key aspect of the Performance 5 Framework (NOTE: It was a big part of their overall summit and more on that later on in this article). Meta encourages advertisers to leverage various ad formats to stand out from the competition (nothing really new here). 

The one format that they’re particularly advocating for is Reels. They believe that Reels can be a game-changer, offering entertainment, digestibility, and relatability to captivate audiences (ones that have all those should be high performers). 

In fact, they claim that Reels have been seen to cause a 51% median improvement in cost-per-incremental conversions for lower-funnel conversion events

3. Automation: Sticking with their big venture into AI

Automation is another significant aspect of the strategy, reflecting their continued venture into AI.

They were heavily bullish on and promoting their Advantage+ offerings (various AI-driven solutions) such as Advantage+ Shopping, Advantage+ Catalog Ads, etc. 

They recommended that performance advertisers scale up their Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns (ASC) and allocating at least 30% of their total ad spend to these automated campaigns. 

4. Data quality: Making sure Conversion API follows best practices

Ensuring data quality is super important in the Performance 5 Framework and believe advertisers should follow best practices to track and analyze data accurately. This includes having an Event Match Quality (EMQ) greater than 8 – which ensures reliable data measurement. 

As well, they  highlighted the importance of redundancy to ensure that events are tracked accurately,  deduplication to prevent events from being counted twice and data freshness (minimizing the time from when an event occurred and when it’s sent to Conversion API)

5. Results validation: Move past the last-click attribution

Finally, is the need for brands to move on from  the traditional last-click attribution model (something I’ve been pretty vocal on) and focusing on incremental return on advertising spend (iROAS). 

In the post era of iOS14.5, where tracking changes, pinpoint targeting and attribution have become increasingly challenging… to accurately measure the impact of ads, Meta suggests three essential metrics: Conversion Lift, Geo Lift, and Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM). These metrics allow advertisers to evaluate the incremental lift generated by their ads, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimize their campaigns for better results.

At the summit, they made very clear the critical role of creative in driving advertising success. 

Even pointing out that 56% of all auction outcomes can be attributed to the creative (NOTE: If you’re a brand that doesn’t make enough creative and wondering why performance is low, there’s your official answer).

To hammer this point home and continuing on the post iOS14.5 theme of difficulty in targeting, Meta has said that creative has become the new targeting BUT  that creative fatigue can negatively impact performance.

There’s a 60% average drop in conversions after four repeated exposures.

To combat this, advertisers must focus on developing a diverse range of creatives to maintain freshness and resonate with their target audience. Scaling campaigns effectively requires continuous creative testing and iteration to keep the content engaging and effective.

So how does creative become the new targeting and what can you do, especially if you don’t have the budget or time to constantly produce new creative and content)?

Here’s what they recommend:

Expanding Reach and Cost-Effective Strategies

To achieve additional reach, Meta advises going beyond your core audience. By creating one creative and tailoring the messaging to different audience segments, you can achieve similar results as using multiple creatives. It's not necessary to completely overhaul your creative content; even simple changes such as variations in thumbnails, colors, headlines, or formats can make a significant impact. 

Not surprisingly, Meta suggests that non-polished photos and videos, shot directly from your phone, can often yield excellent results. This approach can be a cost-effective way to diversify your content and connect with your audience on a more authentic level. 

Additionally, partnering with creators and influencers can help generate even more content and expand your reach.

Lastly, you can use high performing organic content and just repurpose by adding a CTA (call-to-action) to it. 

To wrap up, they also provided a framework for creating effective creative content that resonates with your audience:

Differentiated: Your creative content should stand out from the competition and target different audience pools. By tailoring your messaging to specific segments, you can effectively reach and engage with various customer groups. 

Anti-fatigue: To combat creative fatigue, it is essential to maintain a fresh stream of creative content. Continuously test and iterate on your creatives to ensure that they remain engaging and impactful.

Resonant: Your creative content should align with your core audience's values, beliefs, and interests. It is crucial to understand what your brand stands for and what it means to your audience. By crafting resonant content, you can establish a strong connection and drive better results.

While most skilled media buyers know that some of what Meta says is a bit premature and unproven in some smaller direct-to-consumer accounts, there were some big takeaways that hold true and have now become foundational (ie. the power of creative) for those who scale on this platform. 

All in all, it was great to see how Meta views the future of marketing on their platform and how they are actively working to solve performance problems (more iOS14.5 problems). There’s still no doubt in my mind that it’s still the most powerful advertising platform on the planet. 


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