Optimize Creative with Flexible Formats, But I Have Questions

Meta is rolling out a new feature to help with creative optimization of your ads called Flexible Formats. It’s actually pretty interesting. But, documentation is limited and I have lots of questions.

I don’t have all of the answers here because I’ve yet to stumble on any official documentation from Meta. So, we’re left figuring this out on our own. It’s like a scavenger hunt!

Let’s walk through what we know from early experimentation as well as what is incredibly confusing.

Join me on this crazy ride…

Initial Setup

If you want to use Flexible Formats, there are some basic structural requirements.

Use the Traffic objective.

Traffic Objective

Yeah, I’m not a fan of the Traffic objective, but it’s the only way to access this feature right now.

Use the Website conversion location.

Website Conversion Location

I’ve tried selecting all of the performance goal options, and it doesn’t seem to matter.

When creating the ad, use Manual Upload as the creative source.

Meta Ad Creative Source

Flexible Format

Under Format, you should see a new option of “Flexible” in addition to Single Image or Video, Carousel, and Collection.

Flexible Format

This means that Meta will “show your ad in the format we predict may perform best.” Admittedly, Meta’s documentation is limited at this stage. There’s also an initial “See What’s New” alert…

Flexible Format

It reads:

Optimize your ad whenever it’s delivered with flexible formats. Use flexible formats to reduce creative fatigue and show your ad in the specific format we predict will perform best for each person.

Let’s walk through how that’s going to work.

Under Ad Creative, you can select up to 10 images or videos. It can be a combination of each.

Flexible Format

I went ahead and selected five images and five videos.

Meta also seems to suggest you use the Optimize Creative For Each Person option.

Optimize Creative For Each Person

This essentially applies Standard Enhancements you’re used to seeing from Advantage+ Creative.

Optimize Creative For Each Person

When you’re done, you’ll be able to preview your ads by format.

Flexible Formats

You can see the carousels that are assembled for you.

Flexible Formats

Missing Pieces

At the moment, this seems incomplete. Here are a few reasons why…

1. What are the ideal dimensions?

It appears to be 9:16 for images and 1:1 for videos (when you edit it, those are the dimensions shown for “recommended”), but the image or video would need to be easily cropped to fit all other aspect ratios automatically without your input.

2. Customize by placement?

Related to the first one, I guess, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to customize the aspect ratios of the images and videos by placement. That makes this an enormous challenge since Meta then does all of the cropping automatically.

3. Copy Previews.

If you look at the previews above, they don’t include any copy (primary text or headlines). That’s strange since I provided five primary text and headline options.

4. Why Not Other Objectives?

This actually doesn’t make much sense since it’s available for any performance goal when using the Traffic objective. In other words, you should be able to get access to the same creative optimization options when your performance goal is Maximize Link Clicks, regardless of your objective. I assume this will come eventually.

But, most importantly…

Isn’t This Just Dynamic Creative?

Okay, this is weird. I know you’re thinking it because I am, too. This sounds a whole lot like Dynamic Creative.

Dynamic Creative

Here’s how Meta describes it:

Provide creative elements, such as images and headlines, and we’ll automatically generate combinations optimized for your audience. Variations may include different formats, templates or audio based on one or more elements.

So, the minor difference there is that Dynamic Creative also includes the text, but Flexible Formats used with Optimize Creative For Each Person is basically the same thing.

Also, Dynamic Creative is turned off when I used Flexible Formats. Once I turned Dynamic Creative on, Flexible Formats was no longer available. But, you know. It felt pretty darn similar.

One primary difference is that Flexible Formats generates a carousel option. But if you were to press me on the differences beyond that, I’d struggle to make much sense.

My guess is that Flexible Formats will eventually replace Dynamic Creative. They can’t be used together, and they’re basically the same thing. It also makes slightly more sense since it’s all set from the ad rather than turning Dynamic Creative on from the ad set.

Of course, this is where it would also be helpful to have official documentation from Meta on the benefits of Flexible Formats, but that doesn’t currently exist as far as I can tell.

Watch Video

I recorded a video about this, too. Watch it below…

Your Turn

Have you experimented with Flexible Formats yet? What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below!