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How many ads do we produce to run Facebook Ads?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to paid social, and here is your definitive guide.
Throughout this last era of internet growth (2008-2020), the job of getting Facebook working was an output of spend, media buying, and a simple last-click attribution model. For the majority of this era, creative was simple, novel, or repurposed as an afterthought.
Those days are over. Spend is important. Media buying less so. Last-click even less so.
The changing factor has been importance of creative. So what do we really mean by creative?
How much creative do I need for paid social?
Of the 360 live or completed experiments we’ve run for our clients over the last six months, 75% were creative experiments1.
Why is that? Well, in our experience, it’s the single biggest contributor to the to ability to spend. Simply put, if you want to increase your spend, you need to increase your rate of creative execution.
Creative objectives for early-stage: learning how to do marketing
Early-stage, you don’t know anything. Your first customers are likely some combination of friends and family, mixed in with some early adopters and some people who really need your product.
These groups of people are not by any stretch normal. Friends & family will be helping you out. Early adopters like novel things and will test lots of stuff. And those early people with the high need states? They’re willing to crawl to the top of a mountain if your product might solve their problem.
That means the first customers you acquire are the easiest. Beyond that, conversion rates drop, CPAs shoot up, and the dread hits you that you might not have product-market fit.
So in this early-stage, your creative execution rate is really your learning rate.
The question isn’t: how much creative do I need?
The question is: how much do I want to learn?
One: customer psychology
Early on, you need to detach yourself from your product. (Warning: this is God Tier Difficult).
Instead, you need to learn your customers’ jobs to be done, their anxieties, their lives, how they are currently solving their problems, their language, the places they turn to for advice, the ways they describe problems to a friend.
Only then can you understand what it is about your product that is improving their lives and how to communicate that to them.
Two: Earning attention
Then you need to learn how to earn their attention.
Earning attention is difficult. By the time you read this, you’ll have come into contact with well over 250 ads today. How many do you remember? What was the article you read last night?
It’s not good enough you’ve got a killer product (they don’t care remember). Nor is it good enough you’re answering their problems.
You can’t just stick a variant of ‘this product solves your problem’ and expect it to capture attention.
“Build it and they will come” is a misnomer.
You’ve got to learn how to earn attention. This is a never-ending game.
It’s a never-ending game because the way we interact with the world is ever changing. When every brand starts doing UGC it is no longer novel. We get blind to it.
Finally, you need to learn how to convert those customers.
What’s your conversion rate on your site? If you’ve got a fairly good one at 5%, that means 95% of people don’t convert.
Conversion starts with your creative.
For early-stage businesses, you’re learning how to do marketing. Therefore the rate of creative needs to be high so you can test as much as possible.
Creative objectives for growth-stage: staying relevant
At scale, things change. You’ve now got a good idea of customer problems. Hopefully that addressable market is massive and your product fixes problems better than others.
But you can’t just hit your market over and over again. If you read the same article every day, you’d get bored on the second pass. If your friends reposted the exact same photo to their Stories every day you’d skip it and unfollow them.
People expect new and fresh. They want stuff that continues to break through.
Calculating how much creative you need
“OK,” I hear you cry “we’re convinced, but how much do we actually need?”
Start with your current platform CPA on Facebook for the average creative. Multiple that by 50 and that gives you the cost of running one creative cohort. Now take your entire experiment budget and divided it by that number to give you creative volume.
Say your CPA is £45. Multiplied by £50 gives you £2,250. If you’ve got £10k of experimentation budget assigned that means you need 4 new creatives for that budget.
In practice, it’s usually different. Why? A lot of your early experiments will be total duds. That means 1 of those creatives will be £25, one might be £45, but the other two could be £105 and £250. You’re not going to burn through £2k on a £250k CPA. You learn faster, hooray!
The question then becomes, are you happy learning four things per month? Is four learnings per month going to get you to your next stage of growth? Or does that experimentation budget need to be higher.
What should that creative be?
It’s not learning if you’re throwing stuff at the wall. You should be coming up with ideas that are testing certain themes or ideas or hooks or types of people. All of those things you need to learn should be informing all of those tests. It’s not the case of ‘a static or a UGC’ but one of ‘how do we do marketing to grow our business?’
“What types of creative should I be producing?”
“What do you want to learn?”
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, please do give it a like on Substack, or a comment on LinkedIn. Or hit reply and ask me questions. I’d love to feature questions from you in future issues. What would you like to read next.
Internal data. 75% creative, 16% audience or user journey, and 9% are account management.