How to Scale Your Facebook CBO Campaigns: 4 Strategies to Try in 2020

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When your Facebook ad campaigns don’t meet your expectations and fail to generate positive results, the next steps are pretty predictable – you either take some measures to improve the situation or just kill off the underperforming ads. But what if you’re super successful, have hit the target CPA and see a solid ROAS? What’s the next step to take to grow your business even further? The answer is scale, scale, scale. Naturally a question arises – can we scale CBO campaigns in the same way as we were used to with ad set budget optimization? 

CBO has changed the rules of the game for Facebook ad scaling strategies. In the past, when it came to ad set budget optimization, you would either incrementally increase the budget for ad sets that were performing well or duplicate them with an increased budget, while also keeping your fingers crossed that everything would work well. 

You should consider two things when it comes to scaling your CBO campaigns: 

  1. How to use CBO to scale your previously successful ad sets 
  2. (If you have already switched to CBO) How to scale your successful CBO campaigns

In this post we’ll cover the common ways of testing and scaling your CBO campaigns and explain why CBO scaling is an even better and safer solution. 

If you haven’t yet switched to CBO, here is a source to help you better understand the essence of Facebook’s new algorithmic change and adopt it more easily and smoothly.

Why Does CBO Provide More Scaling Opportunities?

Scaling on the ad set level has always been a major issue for advertisers. When increasing the budget for ad sets that are performing well, there is always a risk that this will cause the ad set to re-enter the learning phase and harm the results you’ve already achieved.

As yet, Facebook has not set out an exact rule about the percentage of increase that is safe and that will really scale your campaign rather than spoil it. As a result, we advertisers are constantly experimenting to find the right scaling formula. 

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Though the rulebook for CBO scaling is yet to be defined, there are a few things of which we can be certain: CBO provides more scaling opportunities, is less volatile, and can scale easier and faster while maintaining a sustainable ROAS. The old scaling methods still work, but with some adaptations made and a more strategic approach adopted. Let’s now take a look at some working strategies to scale your CBO campaigns successfully! 

CBO Scaling Strategy #1: Test New Audiences with ABO First, Then Scale with CBO

As long as CBO is optional and we still have the possibility of ad set budget optimization, why not use them in sync and harness more benefits as a result? One proven strategy is to start with ad sets outside of CBO and then push the winning ones into CBO. This strategy popularized by Depesh Mandalia, one of the leading experts in Facebook advertising, is called CBO Graduation Framework. Here’s the deal!

Testing Phase 

In this phase, you start several ad sets within a campaign, each targeting a new audience, and test them over a certain period to determine which ones perform best. With ad set budgeting, unlike CBO, you can rest assured that all of your ad sets will be given enough impressions and spend their whole budget regardless of performance, and no audience will be given an advantage over another.

For this testing phase, it’s best to start with a small spend, for example $5-10 per day, per ad set. 

Scaling Phase 

Once you identify your winning ad sets, duplicate them or graduate them into a CBO and let them compete against each other. The Facebook algorithm will now start finding the best active opportunities to get results across your best ad sets and identify the best of the best. Then, if you see some ad sets stop performing, you can simply kill them off without worrying that the CBO will re-enter the learning phase. 

To scale your winning ad sets, you can either increase your CBO budget or add new creatives within these ad sets. 

You can also implement this strategy with your previously successful ad sets, pushing them into a CBO and reviving them.

CBO Scaling Strategy #2: Duplicate Your Winning Ad Set 5 Times Within the Same CBO

When using this tactic, you should first test several interests or lookalike audiences within a CBO, then identify the winners and duplicate them. Here are the steps to take: 

  1. Start a CBO campaign with a budget of $100 per day and create up to 5 ad sets with single interests or lookalike audiences of different percentages (LLA 1%, LLA 2%, LLA 5%, etc.).
  2. Let the campaign run for at least 3 days and start to identify the best performers.
  3. Take each winning ad set and duplicate it 5 times within a new CBO. Though the ad sets are exactly the same, with the same audience and creatives, they will perform differently. As the Facebook algorithm will target different pockets of the same audience every time, there’s no danger of audience overlap. 
  4. Now keep the CBO campaigns running for 2-3 days and stop the underperforming ads once you identify them.
  5. Only after that should you scale your CBO budget by 30% or even 50% and let CBO allocate the budget across the winning ads.

CBO Scaling Strategy #3: Duplicate Successful CBO and Increase Budget Aggressively by 30-50% Every 24 Hours

Do you have a successful CBO campaign that shows stable performance and a high ROAS? If your CBO provides stable delivery within 48-72 hours (the average length of a Facebook learning phase) and continues to show the same stable performance for a week or so, you are ready to scale and grow even further. 

What we recommend here is that you duplicate your whole CBO, increase the daily budget by 30-50% every 24 hours and pause any underperforming ad sets. 

With ad set budgeting we would increase the budget more carefully, so by making a 20% increase every 2-3 days. With CBO, however, you can scale more aggressively as the algorithm seems to stabilize things much faster.

The good news is that you can automate this process using Facebook’s automated rules tool. Define the condition that indicates your CBO is doing well, choose the action Increase Daily Budget by and set the variable in percentage terms. Finally, schedule the rule to be checked daily. And that’s it: your CBO is all set for automatic scaling.

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You can apply this ready-made automation strategy with Adscook. You can select a scaling rule from pre-built templates like Scale while profitable, Duplicate winners or Scale duplicates. You can also set complex rules with And/Or logical expressions, implement more actions like Duplicate, Delete, Add/Remove/Replace text in the name, or implement more flexible rule scheduling. Join Adscook now and get 1 month’s free access to the tool.

Adscook Automated Rule Templates

CBO Scaling Strategy #4: Scale the Best-Performing Ad Set Within a CBO by Turning off Other Ad Sets 

Do you have one particular ad set within your CBO that’s generating most sales and want Facebook to spend more budget on it? If so, you can turn off all the other ad sets and the budget will automatically be redirected to that particular audience. That way, your best-performing ad set and its creatives get more budget. 

From there, you can take things further and increase your CBO budget or add more creatives to the ad set.

Closing Thoughts 

CBO will become mandatory for all ad accounts exclusively by 2021. Until then, we have a fantastic opportunity to mix and match ABO and CBO to go great guns and to be better prepared for the final transition towards CBO.  

Whether or not you are happy about Facebook’s algorithm change, it makes an advertiser’s life a lot easier. As well as providing a simpler structure for advertisers to manage their campaigns, it also gives more potential for scaling. CBO offers you greater flexibility to test multiple audiences and creatives, easily get rid of underperformers and scale good performers faster and more aggressively. 

Have you already experimented with CBO? What are your scaling strategies? 

Leave your fear of change aside and embrace the power of CBO. Enjoy advertising!

Co-Founder & Marketing Strategist

24 Comments

  1. WOW – this has been great! I’ve been really looking at the proper steps on how to scale. Many sources always just say “scale whatever is winning” without ever going into further detail as to the actual step-by-step mouse clicks that need to be done to achieve this. This is so far one of the most in-depth articles I have found on the internet regarding this topic!!! Thank you 🙏 I just had a few questions regarding the strategies above. Is there any way you could include further detail on the following questions?

    ————————————————

    For Scaling Strategy #2
    question 1:
    – let’s say I tested 5 interests in the original campaign. from there I have 2 winning ad sets. what is the correct step?
    a) duplicate the 2 adsets 5 times each, for a total of 10 adsets and put them ALL under 1 single CBO?
    or b) duplicate the adsets 5 times each, for a total of 10 adsets, but put in 2 CBOs (1 CBO for each)

    question 2:
    when duplicating winning adset to cbo, do I…
    a) turn off the original campaign entirely?
    b) leave the original campaign on
    c) in the original campaign: turn off the winning adsets that i’ve duplicated, and leave on the other ones (who weren’t duplicated)

    ————————————————

    For Scaling strategy #3:

    Alongside having a duplication of the successful CBO and aggressively increasing its budget

    Do I…
    a) turn off the original CBO
    b) leave original CBO and leave budget as is
    c) leave original CBO and also increase its budget aggressively

    ————————————————

    For Scaling strategy #4

    – does turning off other adsets hurt trigger the learning phase or hurt the algorithm? can it potentially damage the currently successful adset?

    – when you mention to “take things further”.. if i have 1 successful adset where I turned off the other 4 unsuccessful adsets, what is the benefit of adding more creatives? by “creatives” you mean adding more “ads” to the existing adset right?

    1. Hey Dee,

      Thanks much for your feedback and your interest. Glad to hear you’ve found the strategies helpful.

      Great questions!
      _______________________________________

      For Scaling Strategy #2

      Question 1: For the scenario you have described, choose the second option – duplicate each winning ad set 5 times but put them in 2 different CBOs (1 CBO for each). So you’ll have 2 CBOs each having 5 ad sets. As you know, Facebook will not show your ad to every single user in your target audience, so when you duplicate the same ad set 5 times, this way you allow the CBO to use your winning audience to its fullest potential – show your ads to different parts of your winning audience.

      Question 2:
      Here you can either turn off the original CBO entirely or give the CBO another chance. If new winning ad sets come up, you may go ahead and implement the same duplication strategy for these ad sets.

      _______________________________________

      For Scaling strategy #3

      At an early stage when you’ve just duplicated the well-performing CBO, leave the original one as it is with the same budget. Then after some time if you see the duplicated one has started performing better, you are safer now and can pause the original one.
      _______________________________________

      For Scaling strategy #4

      Question 1: As Facebook officially claims, as long as the edit is made at the ad set level, other ad sets within the same campaign won’t re-enter the learning phase. You can safely delete an ad set or add new ones within a CBO without damaging other ad sets.

      Question 2: Yes exactly, I mean adding new ads to scale your best-performing ad set. It’s up to you, you can scale either by adding new creatives, expanding the audience (horizontal scaling) or by increasing the budget (vertical scaling).
      _______________________________________

      Overall, these strategies are too individual, they have successfully worked for our campaigns. So you can take them as they are or make some adjustments and test how they work specifically for your business.

      Please, let me know if you have any other questions, would be happy to help.

      1. Hey Gavin, this has been the most helpful article I’ve read on scaling with CBO. I have one question though.
        1. When testing new interests while scaling, do you test in the Campaign with your wining adset or do duplicate your campaign then test those new interest?

      2. Another question Gavin, please and thank you. Do you duplicate your whole CBO campaign everytime you increase your budget?

        1. Hi Shamir, so glad the article was helpful to you. Thanks for the questions.

          1. I usually test new interests within an ABO first so that I have full control over the budget and once they show good performance, I graduate them into the working CBO where all winning interests are grouped together
          2. Duplicating the whole CBO while increasing budget is to stay at the safe side, but you can also try without duplication. It seems safer now with CBO than with ABO.

          1. HI,
            “I graduate them into the working CBO where all winning interests are grouped together”
            do you mean to grouped the winning interests or LLA to one adset ?
            or different adset to within one CBO?
            EX : cbo 1
            adset 1 combine of all winning interests ?
            or
            adset 1
            adset 2
            asset 3

            Thank you again for the very useful article!

  2. Dear,

    For strategy 2:

    Should I turn off the succesfull adsets in the original campaign that I duplicated into cbo’s If I choose to give the cbo another chance.

    Thank you

      1. Dear,

        Thanks for the answer, so as I understand, I leave the original adset in the original campaign running. Until the new cbo with 5 copy’s of the original adset is successfull. Only then do I pause the original adset.

        Regards

  3. Great article! You answered many of my questions that everybody else made complicated. I do have a question: 1) for strategy #3 where you duplicate the CBO ad that is doing well by 30-50% every 24 hours, can we also manually adjust the budget instead of duplicating? or is that not advised since that throws the CBO ad into learning phase? Thank you.

    1. Hey, thanks for your question. You can also try increasing budget without duplication as CBO seems to stabilize things faster. Duplication is for staying on the safe side.

  4. Great info, Gavin!

    For strategy #1, we tested 20 single interest ad sets at $11/day, and found half of them were converting after almost two weeks. Should we take all 10 winning ad sets and push them to a single new CBO (and pausing the original ABO campaign), or split them into two new CBOs with five ad sets each? Wasn’t sure the max number of ad sets you’d recommend per CBO.

    Also, say strategy #1 works well for us after we move our winning ad sets to new CBO, would you suggest scaling further by duplicating top performing ad sets within the same CBO or new CBO and pausing the underperformers?

    Thanks!

  5. I have another question regarding any of these strategies for a localized campaign with a smaller budget (ex. $20/day or less). How would you recommend structuring a test and then scaling when budgets are extremely limited?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Mike, glad the info was useful and thanks for the questions.

      For question 1: It actually depends on your budget. If you set a small budget with many ad sets, Facebook will not have enough range to find the best opportunities. When calculating your CBO daily budget, take into account the number of ad sets and your target CPA. Suppose that your target CPA is $100 and you have 3 ad sets within a CBO. To break even, you should spend $300 daily ($100×3). So the more ad sets you have within a CBO, the more budget you should have for effective CBO performance.

      For question 2: I would suggest scaling them by increasing budget either right in that CBO or duplicating it with increased budget.

      For question 3: With extremely limited budget I would not suggest running any CBO campaign.

  6. Hi Gavin!
    First, I want to thank you so much for the insightful article, it really does clears up a lot of concepts to me. After all, Facebook isn’t all that transparent about their algorithm.

    I have a few more questions in mind and I would really appreciate if you could share your thoughts.

    #1 In the scaling strategy 2, or scaling CBOs in general, do you usually pause underperforming ads or underperforming adsets? Also, is there a “kill rule” that you follow? For example, say an adset within a CBO is having a higher than acceptable CPA, would you kill it immediately or give a few days for a chance to optimise?

    #2 For strategy 3, will duplicating the winning CBO create competition for itself? in other words, will campaigns with the same or similar audience compete against each other? As I have tried this method myself and the CPMs also seem to increase for both the original and duplicated CBO, resulting in both being unprofitable.

    #3 About inconsistencies, I understand Facebook ads result might not be exactly consistent all the time, but the inconsistencies I have experienced is making me really struggle in making the right decisions. Some CBO that has been performing really well often experience a drastic drop in performance after some time, especially after scaling (I tried both duplication and budget adjustment). I wonder how do you deal with these inconsistencies? are there ways to minimise this or fix this?

    Thank you very much in advance and I hope it doesn’t take up too much of your time. God Bless.

    1. Hi Ian, so glad you found the strategies helpful and thanks for your questions!

      1. It depends – sometimes you may identify an underperforming ad set, sometimes only one underperofrming ad within an ad set. As for the “kill rule”, I usually create an automated rule based on CPA or ROAS and give it, for example 3 days time range. The rule will look like this:
      Action: Turn off ad sets
      Condition – Website Purchase ROAS < 2
      Time Range – Last 3 days

      2. If your duplicated CBO starts gaining traction and performing better than the original one, I recommend pausing the original CBO. But overall, if you have a broad audience (500K – 1mm), it's less risky to compete against yourself. Things are quite different if you deal with a narrow audience.

      3. What percentage do you increase the CBO budget by? If you scale aggressively, say, by 50% and it affects performance, try to increase the budget by just 15%-20% every 2-3 days.

      Please, let me know if you have further questions.

  7. Thank you , your article is very clear and helpful, I have a few questions if you please.
    Q 1 : I don’t have a website just a fb business page, do you suggest an objective that gives better results with your strategy ?
    Q 2 : it isn’t related to your article it’s about post engagement objective often the results just 3 seconds video view if it is a video ad & photo view if the ad is image , no post reaction or very rare as if I’m running video view objective, I tried more than 50 campaigns only 3 get very good post reactions, like , comments & share. I’m very confused. Thank you

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