Deep Dive Wednesdays

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7-page deep dive on Meta’s learning phase..

Hi, everyone!

If you’ve been following up on my 5 must-have emails flow, I hope you or your team has been executing on it. If you already had them built out, you should be consistently optimizing for it. The cost to advertise is the highest it has ever been, and you need to squeeze the juice out of every organic channel as much as possible to ensure marketing efficiency and keep your bottom line healthy.

Speaking of advertisements, we’ll talk about Meta, and specifically about its learning phase today.

Why Meta? Because it has ~4 billion users accumulatively. Chances are, everyone you know uses at least one of Meta’s products—such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc. If you’re looking to advertise, it’s very likely your customers are using these products as well, and this channel can be monumental for your brand!

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Not sure? Talk to their team to learn more.

Alright, let’s get into it..



  • What is the learning phase?

  • Why is the learning phase critical to your Meta’s success?

  • How exactly is Meta learning and improving the delivery of your ads?

  • When does an ad set re-enter the learning phase?

  • How can you can take advantage of the learning phase to sell more?

  • Key learnings

What is the learning phase?

When you first start an ad set, it starts in the learning phase. This phase denotes a period when Meta doesn't have enough data or learnings to predict who to show your ads to for the best results.

In the learning phase, performance is less stable, and you typically see a worse cost per action (CPA), and possibly high CPMs (cost for every 1000 impressions, know as Cost Per Mille).

Why is the learning phase critical to your Meta’s success?

In a study by Meta, advertisers saw a 19% lower cost per result in ad sets that exited the learning phase compared to those that didn't.

Meta states that an ad set "exits the learning phase" when its performance stabilizes. Typically, this occurs after receiving 50 "optimization events," such as purchases, within seven days.

The "Delivery" column shows an ad set's learning status. If it says Active, it's out of the learning phase. If it says Limited Learning, it's essentially stuck in a loop of not getting enough data to exit the learning phase.

How exactly is Meta learning and improving the delivery of your ads?

Each time one of your ads is shown, Meta learns more about whether it's working and whom to show it, to give you the most value for your money. As you get more data and more learnings, Meta gets better and better at showing the right ad to the right person, so you get better and more stable performance.

Meta learns on the ad set level, which is where you define your target audience. You can see the ad set as the brain that controls which of the ads in the ad set to show to who in the audience for the best results.

It's important to understand that ad sets don't talk to each other. The brain of one ad set doesn't speak with the brains of other ad sets. So, any learnings in one ad set don't help the brain of your other ad sets. This makes account structure important because it determines how many ad sets you have in your account.

With multiple ad sets, you need more data, more orders, to feed all the brains with enough data for them to exit the learning phase. If you don't, each ad set that doesn't exit the learning phase will be stuck in an eternal loop of bad results.

When I consult with Founders, one of the biggest and most common mistakes I see them make is having way too many campaigns, limited budgets, and not being patient enough. So much so, they make at least one change a day depending on each day’s data, and get stuck in that eternal period of learning phase.

If you didn’t already know, I work as a CMO for a brand called Peel Away. Our biggest segment of audience primarily are Caregivers (Audience 1), and secondary are Moms (Audience 2).

When I build an account structure, I like to extremely simplify things and keep everything consolidated, which is what Meta recommends as well. This also helps with not hitting your head every time you open your ad account, because every 9 of the 10 Founders I’ve spoken to, their ad accounts have been absolutely chaotic. At some point, you even forget what the purpose of some campaigns/ad sets were in the first place. Hence, it’s also important to simplify on how you name these campaigns, ad sets, and ads!

You’ll always find me saying CONSOLIDATION. You have to simplify your account structure, and reduce the number of campaigns you run. I know a couple of brands that do annually over $20M, and yet have only 3 campaigns. That’s all you need at this scale. To give you a better understanding, I’ve built this account structure that you could use as a reference point.

When does an ad set re-enter the learning phase?

Even if an ad set has exited the learning phase, it can re-enter the learning phase after what Meta calls a significant edit:

  • Any change to targeting (audience at the ad set level)

  • Any change to ad creative (text, image/video)

  • Adding a new ad to the ad set

  • Pausing an ad set for 7 days or longer

  • Changing bid strategy (e.g. from lowest cost to bid caps)

  • Changing LP/website URLs

Meta also says that a change might cause an ad set to re-enter the learning phase if you do the following, depending on the magnitude of the change:

  • Change anything related to cost controls (bid, cost per result goal, or ROAS)

  • Change the budget, whether it's on the ad set or campaign level (if you increase the ad spend upto 15-20%, it may not enter the learning phase)

Important note: Many people think an ad set resets all learnings after a significant edit. It doesn't. It simply re-enters the learning phase to "recalibrate" after the edit— based on both, the old learnings and the new data from the new learning phase. So don’t be afraid that you’ll end up deleting all your learnings.

How can you can take advantage of the learning phase to sell more?

Reduce time spent in the learning phase, but never avoid it completely. It's important to keep ad sets out of the learning phase most of the time. But it's equally important to test new ads and optimize your account. So, don't be afraid of making changes or adding new ads because of the learning phase. Just be sure to make changes only for a damn good reason.

Tips to reduce time spent in the learning phase:

  • Batch your edits and changes to, e.g., one day per week, so you're reentering the learning phase as little as possible

  • Consolidate ad sets, so each ad set gets more data, and consequently, exits the learning phase faster

  • Make sure you can get enough conversions in a seven-day period to exit the learning phase

  • High enough budgets

  • Big enough audiences

  • Cost controls that aren't too restricting (if you’re using any)

Key learnings

  • Eliminate time spent in learning phase as much as possible. You get better results the less time your ad sets spend in the learning phase

  • Account structure is important as it determines how many ad sets you have and thus, how much data you need for them all to to exit the learning phase

  • Consolidation is key if you don’t generate enough orders for all your ad sets to exit the learning phase

  • Only make changes to an ad set after it has exited the learning phase. Otherwise, you're making changes based on likely-to-change data

Let me take an example:

  • If your ideal CPA is $30, I’d like to assume it to be at least 2.5x in the learning phase, which would make it $75

  • So if I’m looking at 50 sales in a 7 day window to exit the learning phase, that’s 50*75 = $3750 I’d keep aside just for a week, although this number can vary depending on what you’re selling

  • It’s just a rough estimate, but you’ll get to know the actual CPA in the learning phase after you start running the ads

  • If you’re on tight budgets, then my recommendation would be to run as less campaigns, ad sets, and ads as possible, otherwise you’d be stretching your budgets too thin, not given each ad sets/ads enough fuel to extract significant data

Alright folks, that’s it for today. If there’s anything I missed regarding the learning phase, or if you have any questions for me, please let me know here. Even if you just have feedback, you can let me know by clicking the link. It helps me understand how I’m doing.

Thank you.

🗣 Running a B2B and want to reach 33,441 DTC Brands? Start here…