Meta Ads for ecommerce: 7 things to test and iterate
A few years ago, you’d have been laughed out of any room for even insinuating that paid social and paid search had similarities.
Fast forward to the era of automation in PPC advertising, and there’s more in common between Meta and Google’s ad products than you might realize.
For example, both ad platforms:
- Include algorithm-based campaigns that are heavily promoted by each platform: Advantage+ (Meta) and Performance Max (Google).
- Allow you only to see data and settings you can control, whether in part or full.
- Have their biggest growth levers outside the ad account (e.g., business-specific data inputs, ad creative, landing pages, sales experience, etc).
But while there are overlaps, both channels retain the unique characteristics that make them complementary channels rather than contesting ones:
- Paid search typically has been used to capture demand – though the emergence of campaigns like Demand Generation is moving things in a different direction.
- Paid social has historically been able to both create and capture demand, creating a true full-funnel approach that modern paid search seeks to replicate.
Think about users’ state of mind when searching for something specific on Google versus the endless scroll associated with social media networks like Facebook or Instagram.
Search users want to research and/or buy products or services at that moment, while those on social media are open to new and interesting offers.
A 7-point ecommerce framework for Facebook and Instagram
When they’re set up and managed correctly, ecommerce campaigns on Meta can print money for products with market fit.
But what exactly should you be looking at? How do you determine what the best choices are?
Here are the top considerations.
1. Experiment with Advantage+ campaigns
Unlike lead generation, where you don’t really have the option of running purchase-focused campaigns, ecommerce on Meta Ads gives you two options – one of which is the relatively new Advantage+ Shopping.
Meta introduced Advantage+ Shopping during the holiday season of 2022. It’s similar to Performance Max in that it’s a broad-scope campaign that limits your ability to target specific audiences.
You give it creative assets and messaging, the system looks for buyers, and refine the campaign with parameters and rules (e.g., data inputs, block existing customers, focus x% of budget on existing customers, etc.).
As always, try both and see how it goes before leaning into one or the other.
Dig deeper: Testing Meta’s AI-powered Advantage+ targeting: What we learned and what to expect
2. Test broad targeting on standard Conversion campaigns
If you choose the route of standard Conversion campaigns, you’ll want to pick the right targeting settings. Typically, as long as your pixel has enough data, you’re better off just doing broad targeting.
With lead generation campaigns on Meta, we like to feed them with audiences because you want to be much more nuanced in terms of who you’re going after.
But with ecommerce, because they see the revenues and much of the pixel data, just take away all your audiences. Maybe exclude recent purchasers (people who bought from you in the last 30 days), but otherwise, let the system find new customers.
By giving it limitations, you artificially inflate your CPMs for no reason.
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3. Prioritize purchase conversions
Conversion campaigns allow you to focus on different ecommerce goals: purchases, cart adds and clicks. That’s the order of preference you want to pursue.
We will almost always use the purchase conversion as the focus and recommend that as the ideal scenario. Some advertisers like to start with ‘add to cart’ targeting, but I prefer to focus on purchases.
One thing is certain: Meta’s algorithms are powerful and will give you what you ask for.
If you’re not running Advantage+ Shopping and instead use Conversion campaigns with a cart add or click focus, it’ll give you that.
While it’s nice for someone to add to cart (and certainly has its uses), you usually want and need revenue. So focus on that when it comes time to generate returns.
4. Trust in 7-day click (usually)
Our campaigns on Meta typically use 7-day click attribution, and we don’t like to look at view-throughs. Here’s why.
When it comes to lead generation, 1-day is enough. But with ecommerce, you’re going to want to use 7-day click. Unless you’re selling a product that is more of an impulse purchase (in which case 1-day click is enough), most people take time to make a purchase decision.
At the same time, view-throughs will be inflated because everyone who places an order likely sees an ad. And while there is value to that, I would rely on that data to almost certainly have duplicate attribution.
5. Get creative with your creatives
When it comes to the ads themselves, we advise having a good mix of asset types that you can test, test, and test some more.
- Us vs. them
- Media mentions
- High production value
- UGC or influencer style
- Short-form and longer videos
- Tools like Marpipe and Socioh help build visually attractive catalog creatives
In one instance, a video worked well for a while before performance fell off.
We ran it through the Google Ads trim video tool, which algorithmically cut up the video to tell a different story. You can shorten the output and push that live as an ad in Meta, and it revitalizes and breathes new life into an old asset. That ad is performing really well again.
There’s another tool we use called OpusClip, which you feed with short-form video and it automatically adds subtitles and overlays in the “Hormozi” style that you see often on YouTube Shorts.
You don’t have to use these tools exactly, but take advantage of AI tools like these to keep things fresh and avoid stagnating.
Dig deeper: 4 new rules for PPC ad creative
6. Always test new assets
I’ve been asked multiple times by both clients and advertisers:
- How often should I test out new creatives?
- How much should I spend to test a new ad?
Finding the right answer is less about time and budget, and more about how much traffic has flowed through it.
Is the data output set statistically significant enough to base decisions on it? Ideally, you want a few thousand clicks to establish that validity.
In terms of frequency, bigger budgets allow you to get away with more, so you can cycle new ads more often than you can with smaller budgets. Either way, you’ll want to look for the winners and double down on them.
Another important consideration is when ads do well but taper off, like in the scenario I covered earlier. When you see that happen (or have an ad you think should have done better), try editing the first few seconds to present a different hook.
7. Follow a consistent naming pattern
How do you keep track of what’s working?
The only way to do this without tearing your hair out is by using consistent ad naming conventions, which allow you to easily filter and report on things like:
- How are image ads doing compared to video?
- Do review ads perform well?
- Does influencer content get better results?
- Which of your two CTAs is the winner?
Without this, you’ll have to dig through layers and layers of the Meta UI to figure out what’s performing before you can make decisions.
Tools like Motion can help you analyze creatives across multiple campaigns, but like all things, this process becomes easier with a consistent naming convention already in place.
What makes running ecommerce ads simple
Unlike lead gen campaigns, where the value of a lead is nebulous and dependent on a host of other factors, a sale is a sale in ecommerce. Currency amounts are consistent and fixed in value, making for easier math around calculating costs and margins.
Unless you have a high volume of fraud – a problem that transcends advertising – there’s little to worry about when it comes to conversion quality. Track returns and chargebacks, and you should clearly know your brand’s true profitability.
At the same time, there’s a world of marketing channels and branding plays beyond the DTC-preferred duopoly of social advertising and email.
No matter how successful your Meta Ads campaigns are, there is always more growth to unlock.