3 Overrated Factors That Impact Meta Ads Performance Less Than We Think

I recently discussed the four most important factors that impact Meta advertising results. It’s only natural that we follow that up with the most overrated.

This post is necessary. Far too many advertisers waste their time on these three things when the impact of their efforts is often negligible. You should be focusing on those four primary items instead.

It doesn’t mean that these three areas don’t matter at all. In some cases, there’s a common misunderstanding about how something works. In others, a thing matters far less now than it once did.

And that’s the biggest issue here. Advertisers are slow to adjust to the evolution of Meta advertising.

Stop obsessing over these three things. They just don’t matter that much…

1. Campaign Objective

I truly believe that this is a case of most advertisers misunderstanding the purpose of a campaign objective from the start. When an advertiser tells me that they are running a Sales campaign or Leads campaign, I have to follow up with clarification. More often than not, they are merely referring to the campaign objective.

Your selection of an objective is the first step when creating a campaign…

Campaign Objective

The choice you make here will impact options that are available to you throughout the process of setting up your ad set and ad. It helps streamline the process to remove irrelevant options. But that’s really about it.

You may think you’re running a Sales campaign because you selected the Sales objective, but that’s unlikely to have any impact on the delivery of your ads. That’s determined by the performance goal.

Performance Goal

Here’s an example…

You could select Maximize Number of Impressions as your performance goal using any of the six objectives. You’re unlikely to see any difference in delivery and performance due to the objective that you used. The performance goal determines how your ads are delivered. Meta cares about maximizing impressions only. You won’t naturally get sales because you used the Sales objective.

If there’s any impact on delivery by the objective selection itself — beyond the options that are given to you in the ad set — I haven’t seen that mentioned officially by Meta. But they are very clear about the purpose of the performance goal.

In Meta’s documentation about ad delivery, the campaign objective isn’t mentioned once when it explains the factors that contribute to how your ad is delivered. Yet, “optimization event” (the former name for the performance goal) is mentioned four times.

Your objective selection is not magical. The only motivation for selecting an objective is that it gives you a specific performance goal option that isn’t otherwise available.

2. Targeting

It pains me to list this here, but you had to see it coming. I didn’t list targeting among the most important factors that impact your results in the last post. It’s absolutely overrated now.

Look… My whole thing for a decade was microtargeting. There was a period of time when I would have confidently told you that this is the most important factor in your advertising by far.

That’s just not the case anymore. There are two primary reasons for that.

1. Evolution of broad targeting. “Going broad” would’ve sounded like insanity a few years ago. But, advertisers started removing targeting inputs, and they still saw good results. Then Meta rolled out Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, which virtually eliminate targeting inputs. And then Advantage+ Audience, which sees your inputs as mere “suggestions” before going broad.

2. You’re going broader than you think. It kills me when advertisers say that broad targeting doesn’t work for them. And yet, when they use detailed targeting inputs while optimizing for a conversion, Advantage Detailed Targeting is automatically turned on. And when they provide lookalike audiences in these cases, Advantage Lookalike is turned on. They can’t be turned off. Meta is expanding your audience.

Advantage Detailed Targeting

These inputs are way fuzzier today than they were a few years ago. The specific interests you provide don’t matter a whole lot. Meta’s going broader anyway. The specific lookalike audiences that you target don’t matter that much either.

There’s way more overlap now. That’s why it’s insane to take the 2018 approach of creating five to 10 ad sets targeting different groups of interests and lookalike audiences. You’re just competing with yourself and confusing the algorithm. You’re driving up your own costs due to Auction Overlap and Audience Fragmentation.

I’m not saying that you should never use detailed targeting, lookalike audiences, or custom audiences. If we’re to be honest, I’m not as aggressive about this as some broad-targeting-advocates are. They’ll tell you to never use those things.

It doesn’t mean that completely broad targeting works for everyone. I think you should experiment with it, sure. And I do believe that those who resist it aren’t giving it a true chance.

There’s no need for more than two cold audience ad sets in a campaign for the purpose of testing. There just isn’t. Limit your effort because the multiple ad sets you’re creating result in an inefficiency.

I still do some remarketing, though I do it differently than I once did. I now only truly remarket when using the smallest of audiences (like abandoned shopping cart). Otherwise, I might provide broader custom audiences as Advantage+ Audience suggestions.

Advantage+ Audience

That’s also how I’d use detailed targeting or lookalike audiences, if I were to use them at all. Don’t obsess over which ones you’re going to use. Use a few as targeting suggestions and move on.

It’s just not that important. The choices you make aren’t that impactful. And the day is likely coming soon when you won’t have a choice about going broad.

3. Placements

There was a time when removing placements made sense. The algorithm wasn’t particularly smart and some placements were a waste of money.

At the same time, I’d say that advertisers overreacted to this as long as a decade ago. I once wrote a blog post (10 years ago!) trying to convince people to stop removing the right hand column placement because the cost per impression was so much lower — which led to efficient results.

Advertisers still do this. In some cases, they only use Facebook and Instagram news feed because “that’s what is most effective.” It’s also what’s most competitive and expensive.

We’re getting very close to the point where we won’t have an option here. Meta pushes Advantage+ Placements hard, to the point of making it difficult to remove placements at all.

Advantage+ Placements

There are weaknesses, of course. If you ever optimize for link clicks or landing page views, it’s in your best interests to remove Audience Network. Otherwise, you’re going to get a ton of cheap clicks that result from accidental clicks, bots, and click fraud (before it’s discovered).

But that weakness is no longer an issue if your performance goal is conversions rather than link clicks. The algorithm will adjust with the goal of getting you conversions. If ads shown in Audience Network don’t lead to your performance goal, expect very little money to be spent there. In fact, I rarely see money spent there at all when optimizing for conversions.

There’s no reason to remove placements simply because you believe they are less effective. Allow the algorithm to figure that out. Removing placements when optimizing for conversions only restricts the algorithm, thereby limiting impressions and driving up your costs.

The only reason to remove placements is due to a weakness related to your performance goal. Beyond that, you’re overthinking it.

Your Turn

I’m sure I’ll get some disagreement on some of these. Again, it’s not that these three things mean nothing at all. But advertising has evolved to the point where they mean far less than they once did. Yet, many advertisers obsess over them like they are more important than they are.

Any other overrated factors that you’d add to this list?

Let me know in the comments below!