Creative Fatigue: What Is It And How Much Creative You Need To Stay Ahead of It

Nothing lasts forever. Especially in advertising.  Creative fatigue: how much do you need? When an ad’s performance declines because people have seen it too many times, it causes creative fatigue. This affects every ad eventually.

On Facebook, it happens especially fast. Even an unusually successful ad will start showing performance declines after a week or two.

This article was also covered in Marketing Interactive.


Creative Fatigue: How Much Spending Affects Ad Fatigue

The rate of ad fatigue depends in part on how much its advertiser is spending. This isn’t some penalty enacted by Facebook; it’s simply human nature. Each member of the audience being advertised will notice a new ad only a couple of times. After that, they’ll start screening the ad out – ignoring it.

Ad fatigue can begin in as little as three to four days for a campaign with a very large budget because that budget lets the advertiser reach so many people. Or it could take as long as one to two weeks for a campaign with a much smaller budget.

After managing over $100 million in Facebook advertising campaigns, we see this pattern every time: As spending increases, ad fatigue sets in and performance drops.

The chart below shows the typical cycle. On the far left of the chart, you see the initial launch of the ad. It does well – very well – and so it gets fed a lot of budget. But almost as soon as the budget increases, the ad’s performance begins to taper off.

It’s still a top-performing ad (compared to the other ads that never performed well enough to be given this much budget), but creative fatigue has already set in. Over the next few days, the ad’s performance slowly drifts down, until there’s a new creative win and the performance spikes again. But just like before, as the spend for the newer ad goes up, it begins its slow decline.

This sine wave of performance and spending goes on indefinitely. It’s why advertisers need to keep producing new Facebook ad creative.

But spending isn’t the only thing that can accelerate ad fatigue. Having a limited number of creative assets can accelerate it, too.

How Limited Assets Accelerate Facebook Ad Fatigue

Here’s an example of how this works:

  • An advertiser A is spending $1,000,000 with three videos.
  • The advertiser B is spending $1,000,000 with six videos.

Advertiser A’s creative will fatigue two times faster than advertiser B’s because they’re buying twice as many impressions for those videos.

This is really just a different symptom of the same underlying issue we saw before: The members of the advertising audience will notice an ad when it’s new. But after seeing an ad a couple of times, it isn’t news anymore. And so they don’t pay as much attention to it. The ad fades back into all the other advertising noise.

The advertiser with six videos had their ads last longer because only half as many people were seeing each of their ads. If $1 bought an ad impression, here how it would work out:

Budget Impressions bought Video ads Impressions per ad
Advertiser A USD$1,000,000 1,000,000 3 333,333
Advertiser B USD$1,000,000 1,000,000 6 166,666


So it isn’t a question of if ad fatigue will happen. It’s when it will happen.

This means the next question to ask is…

How to Manage Creative Fatigue

If ads are going to wear out so quickly, what’s an advertiser to do?

They have two options: Expand their audience (which will only delay creative fatigue) or create new ads. Creating new ads is the more effective approach, and it’s the one we’ll focus on for the rest of this article.

As we saw earlier in the example of the two advertisers: The larger your advertising budget, the more creative you’re going to need.

An advertiser spending $1 million per month needs ten times as much creative as an advertiser who spends $100,000. That’s because – all other things being equal – advertiser A is buying ten times as many impressions.

Once again, this is just another way of measuring the same principle of ad fatigue: The advertiser’s audience will pay attention to a new ad for only so long. As soon as that window is passed, ad performance drops.

Why Creative (and Testing Creative) is the Last Real Competitive Advantage on Facebook

So why all this focus on creative? Well, because it’s the only real way to beat your competition. As Facebook’s advertising features have gotten better and better, the playing field of advertising has largely been leveled.

If someone is reasonably competent at Facebook advertising, they can now get the same results that only super-sophisticated marketers used to be able to get.

This became especially true after February 19th of 2018, when Facebook retooled their advertising algorithm and started offering ad features that basically made the native tools in the Facebook advertising platform on par with the most sophisticated (and expensive) third-party advertising tools around.

The native advertising tools in Facebook (and in Google) have gotten so good now that third-party tools aren’t so much of an advantage.

And so – because the advertising technology field is becoming increasingly flat – having advanced Facebook advertising and quantitative skills and tools are becoming less and less of an advantage.

As the Facebook optimization algorithm continues to improve, the only real control advertisers will have is developing better creative and showing it to new audiences.

Creative has become the primary differentiator for performance.

What it Means for Creative to Be the Last Competitive Edge

Creative may be the last competitive advantage, but it’s not an advantage that comes easily. Ask any advertiser or agency and they’ll tell you: It’s difficult to impossible to keep up with the need for new creative.

Why? Because advertisers don’t just have to come up with enough creative to stay ahead of creative fatigue.

They have to come up with twenty times that.

This is because the vast majority of new advertising creative will fail. In our experience creating and testing 300,000 different ads, only about 5% of ads perform well enough to replace the old best-performing ad (aka the “control”).

Nineteen out of twenty new ads will fail.

Here are two graphs that illustrate how unusual high-performing ads are. The charts show two different clients: one in e-commerce, the other in gaming. The (vertical) axis shows how much advertising budget was spent on each individual ad. The x (horizontal) axis shows how many ads were created.

As you can see, the vast majority of ad creative never performed well enough to merit much budget. Only a very slim percentage of ads did well enough to spend real money on.


creative fatigue: how much creative do you need?

So what does this mean for you?

It means you need an efficient, systematic way to create and test ads. Because there’s an enormous amount of work to do.

For example, let’s assume you spend a medium amount on Facebook every week. Ad fatigue takes down your top-performing ad only once a week.

To replace that one winning piece of creative, you need to create twenty pieces of new creative. Twenty ads a week is no small task, but it can definitely be done.

But that’s not all you have to do. You’ll want to have your winning ad run on more than one social media platform, right? So you’ll need to make versions of that winning ad for each platform.

creative fatigue: how much do you need?

And then you’ll need to make variations of that ad for all the different ad sizes.

But that’s not the end, either. The best creative is optimized for how prospects use Facebook – whether they tend to be “on the go” users checking Facebook for updates, or “lean forward” users accessing it from a desktop, or “lean back” users watching long-form video.

You may also want to optimize for a user’s location, or even optimize ads for the app the ads will be advertised in.

So yes, there’s a lot of work to do. And we haven’t even gotten into the testing required to find that new top-performing ad.

But what’s it worth to you to turn Facebook into a river of new customers?


Strategies for How to Test your Facebook Ad Campaigns

Strategies For How To Test Your Facebook Ad Campaigns, as seen on Clickz.

Facebook has two features to help determine which creative is best: Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO), and split testing to run A/B comparisons.

As Facebook has automated its bidding, creative has quickly become the driver for the best financial performance. Advertisers can now optimize Facebook creative to match the user’s experience, location, and device. Video templates assist with the creation of generic creative and dynamic pricing; however, non-templatized creative cannot be generated with AI or machine learning — yet!

Facebook Ad Campaigns

How Much Facebook Creative Do You Need?

Our experience in spending over $150M indicated that 95% of direct response creative fails to outperform a portfolio’s best ad. Thus, a large volume of quality creative is needed to find that 5% of winning creative to achieve and sustain the return on advertising spend (ROAS). Since creative rapidly fatigues with increased spend and audience reach, constant creative testing is necessary to produce wins to offset fatigue.

Facebook ad campaigns

Facebook Ad Campaigns – Features to Help Determine Which Creative is Best

A|B Testing

You should always be A|B testing your creative to optimize on spend, and Facebook has released two new features to help determine which creative is the best. Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) selects the best elements to put into an ad based on audience segments to deliver in real-time the right ad, right copy, right audience, right time, right language, the right placement, and right device. Further, DCO offers both creative delivery at scale as well as testing with endless experimentation, all without human intervention required to drive continuous testing and optimization. It’s also possible to enable language testing through DCO to deliver the most efficient language based on performance.

Split Testing

Their second innovation is a simple split test that allows advertisers to efficiently run A|B comparisons between videos, images, ad copy, and more. The real innovation here is that Facebook will split the traffic on the back end to avoid overlap. For example, if you have an audience of 1,000,000 and you want to test five videos, Facebook will show each video to an audience of up to 200,000 people. This new feature has radically simplified creative testing of ads for Facebook and allows for much more efficient media spend.

Split Testing in Dedicated Campaigns

You should configure split tests in a dedicated campaign to eliminate the likelihood of incurring a significant loss to your regular structure. Once a winner is identified, you can roll it out and scale using your dedicated scale campaigns ad sets. If you are testing new audiences, and an ad set performs well, use the ad set continuously and add new ad creative overtime to offset audience fatigue. If the audience does not perform, pause and abandon it.

End Dates

All of your split testings should have an end date. Facebook recommends that you now use daily budgets instead of lifetime budgets. Once a winner is identified, you should pause the split test contestants and re-launch an ad set with a dedicated unique audience.

Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO)

CBO vs. non-CBO: Place a single campaign budget and allow Facebook to dynamically adjust ad set budgets. This gives control to Facebook for budget optimization. This also allows top ad sets to scale volume without triggering a significant edit. Thus, putting less risk on high-value ad sets.

Dynamic Language Optimization (DLO)

DLO vs. non-DLO: DLO is particularly useful for targeting multilingual audiences in a single location. Allow Facebook to determine which ad and which language to serve. This hands more control to Facebook to surface the winning ads automatically.

It’s important to note that DLO performance seems to fluctuate significantly. It is also possible that non-DLO ads can outperform DLO ads during any given month. In general, language targeting requires continual testing with a focus on refreshing copy, creative, and audience. Also, country targeting appears to make a significant difference. For example, targeting worldwide French speakers may produce different results compared to targeting French speakers in France, Canada, etc., and vice versa.

Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)

DCO vs. non-DCO: DCO automatically optimizes ad creative based on multivariate testing. By running DCO, Facebook has control over which creative is served. This will also quickly optimize a high volume of creative combinations versus just running many ads per ad set.

Split Testing

Split Testing vs. CBO vs. Neither: Use split testing for creative, audience, and placement testing to optimize your campaigns.

Final Thoughts about Facebook Ad Campaigns: Always Test Your Ads

Regardless of the size of your ad spend on Facebook, continuous creative testing of copy, video, and images are imperative. This will help you reach your campaign objectives. By using a variety of testing techniques on Facebook, you’ll be able to continue optimizing your spend and start generating ROAS with your campaigns this year.

Facebook Holiday Advertising: How To Win When Ad Costs Rise 25%

Facebook Holiday Advertising: How To Win When Ad Costs Rise 25%, as seen on MarTech Advisor.

Late Q4 is unlike any other advertising environment of the year. Facebook ad costs typically spike by 25% or more. The competition for inventory is fierce. But it’s also the biggest shopping season of the year. Ecommerce advertisers are managing their boom time, while other advertisers, like user acquisition and lead gen marketers, are hoping to close the year strong.

Facebook holiday advertising gets particularly ferocious. But while Facebook ads might get more expensive during late Q4, Mark Zuckerberg’s platform is still the best game in town. A 2018 holiday marketing study from Shopify Plus  e-commerce marketers say Facebook ads are the most effective channel for new
customer acquisition.

Of course, everybody knows ads get more expensive around Christmas. Anybody who’s looked at a Facebook ads dashboard during the holidays has had to swallow a lump of coal when they looked at the cost per click.

Most marketers are already aware of the problem. Keenly aware of the problem: 80% of them say “rising ad spend” is a concern for holiday marketing.

facebook holiday advertising

Despite the expense and the competition, Q4 is a massive opportunity. For retailers, it’s an opportunity to maximize the best buying season of the year. And for user acquisition managers and lead gen marketers, the holidays precede the most cost-efficient advertising season of the year.

To help you navigate the season, here are five Facebook advertising best practices for late Q4 advertising:


Facebook Holiday Advertising


1. Manage the Strategy Shifts of the Ad Spend Wave

Done right, the ramp-up to holiday advertising can be as important as the holidays themselves. Advertisers can leverage retargeting, email lists and other more cost-effective channels after December 8th – if they’ve scaled up their campaigns properly before that.

But don’t underestimate the after-shopping Christmas boom, either. Everybody likes to splurge with their Christmas money, to buy themselves what Santa forgot to bring. That’s why the period after December 26th can be especially effective if advertisers test out new device ads, video (more on that in a moment), and new messaging/creative.

2. Increase Average Order Size

If user acquisition costs rise, you have two choices for preserving profits: cut your overhead/product costs, or raise average order size. Fortunately, increasing average order size complements what’s going on in Q4 nicely – people are spending more, both on themselves and others.

There are plenty of ways to increase average order size:

  • Bundling products
  • Offering extra features for a discount
  • $-off discounts (“spend $X, get $ off” offers)

You may also want to just skip this average order size strategy entirely, too. Depending on your company and your situation, it could make sense to just go with a loss leader in Q4 and use it to build your customer base.

If you manage the loss-leader strategy well, you could break even (or make a very slim profit), but you’ll add a ton of people to your buyers’ list. Pair that with effective retention marketing, and Christmas could be a good opportunity to just bring in as many new customers as you can.

3. Wait It Out

Of course, not everybody is in e-commerce. If you do app marketing or lead generation, the holidays present a very different problem.

For non-eCommerce Facebook advertisers, the best time to scale spend during the fourth quarter is between October 1st and December 7th. CPMs will increase during that time, but not too much. We typically see them rise about 10-15% from Black Friday through December 7th.

The real increases kick in from December 8th to December 25th. That’s when CPMs rise from 30-40%. If you can, it’s not a bad time to just sit things out or to scale back your ad spend and focus only on your most profitable campaigns.

Fortunately, the expensive days do pass. Almost like magic, on December 26th, costs drop. Most of the eCommerce marketers have spent their budgets, sold their inventory, and consider the year done.

This is when non-eCommerce marketers – like app marketers, user acquisition managers, and lead generation marketers – have their heyday. They will enjoy some of the most efficient CPMs of the year from December 26th through to the end of February.

So, if you’re going to spend money in the fourth quarter – and you’re not an eCommerce company – try to frontload spend as much as possible in October and November.

And if you have to spend money in December, spend it before December 7th. Then pull back as much as possible from December 8th through the 25th. Pick it back up on December 26th and let it rip through the end of February.

4. Focus on Mobile

Everybody knows mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic. But many marketers still believe “mobile traffic doesn’t convert”, or at least that it doesn’t convert as well as desktop traffic.

That might no longer be true.

A 2018 study of Google Shopping ads found that there’s been a dramatic increase in mobile conversion rates since just last year. The conversion rates for shoppers who begin and end their buyer’s journeys on mobile devices has increased by 252%.

facebook holiday advertising

This might be even more interesting: “The path of shoppers starting their search on desktop and completing their purchase on mobile rose 259% year over year.” Some people are actually choosing to check out via mobile rather than on a desktop.

Of course, that’s Google Shopping, not Facebook ads. But Facebook has done its own research, and also found mobile users are shoppers, too.

facebook holiday advertising

5. Use Video

If you’ve been hanging back from investing in video advertisements or investing more in the video, it might be the edge you need for Q4.

According to Facebook research, “Nearly 1 in 3 mobile shoppers surveyed in the US said that video is the best medium for discovering new products.” So if you want to get more buyers, make more videos – both for Facebook and Instagram.

And yes, there is still enough time to get videos made before the major shopping holidays. Contact our Creative Studio team to learn more.


Get Your $99 Facebook Video for Black Friday

One of the biggest shopping weekends is approaching, along with one of the biggest days for deals. Black Friday is not just for consumers – digital marketers can also get in on great deals to fuel their initiatives for 2019. Our Creative Studio can help you prepare for the spike in holiday advertising costs. CPMs are about to get expensive, so we’re offering a Black Friday Special – a new video ad for only $99!

To claim your $99 Black Friday video ad, we’ll need your brand guidelines, an image/video source files, an example of your current social ads, logo, fonts and any music/audio. We’ll produce one video in 1:1 or 9:16 format or one image if you prefer.

How Does The Creative Studio Work?

Facebook’s and Google’s machine learning algorithms have automated media buying and optimization. As optimization is automated, ad creative has become the primary differentiator for advertising performance. Our creative studio produces high-scale videos and images for advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Google UAC, SnapChat, Pinterest and IAB.  Free access to Shutterstock’s library of over 180 million images and videos.


Fresh Creative Concepts At Scale.

We’re experts at direct response, social advertising. We’ve built a high-quality, in-house team of video editors and designers that have delivered over 300,000 concepts. We understand successful social advertising requires a tremendous volume of fresh creative concepts and we’ll deliver an endless supply of creative strategies based on the best practices of each social channel.  With our Creative Studio, you can easily increase the intensity of creative testing, benchmark and supplement your internal team capabilities. We offer free access to Shutterstock’s library of over 180 million images and videos.


Real Experience. Real Results.

We’ve produced over 300,000 ads and spent over $1 billion in advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.  We’ve built our knowledge for producing high-performing creative into our Creative Studio. We understand the careful balance between branding and performance ads and how to iterate on prototype ads vs finished/polished ads.  We’ll maximize results and follow best practices for each social channel.


How to Reduce Wasteful Ad Spend on Facebook

As seen on Business of Apps. Digital advertising on Facebook is an easy place to waste your user acquisition budget. In just a few minutes, you can spend hundreds or even thousands of ads that aren’t converting efficiently, and driving an audience that doesn’t match your user profile. Fortunately, you can take control of wasteful ad spend by applying Facebook’s recommended best practices for user acquisition. The platform has improved its automation and campaign management tools tremendously over the past year to make user acquisition more effective for publishers both large and small.

Here is a guide to the best practices that you should be applying to your Facebook acquisition campaigns today to reduce wasteful ad spend and drive spending efficiencies:


Reduce Wasteful Ad Spend on Facebook


Get Your Bidding Structure off to the Right Start

Mobile App Install (MAI) ads are ideal for brand new accounts in order to build up conversion history. Set up your mobile app campaigns with these ads because they are an ideal that lets users download your app within just a couple of clicks.

After you’ve tested MAI, you should transition to App Event (AEO) and Value (VO) bidding. For new accounts, VO will not initially be available until you have enough AEO optimization data. AEO needs slightly higher quality audiences than VO, while VO needs broad audiences. VO is a more finite audience than AEO and will reach audience saturation more quickly. VO should be more efficient for new audiences and new creative, and AEO may be more efficient for you as the VO audience pool becomes oversaturated. As a bit of context, on average, we’ve seen that AEO is 2-3X the cost of a mobile app install, and VO is 2-3X the cost AEO.

You should also consider having both bid types set up in unique campaigns and be prepared to move the budget between AEO and VO to continue optimizing your ad spend.


Test Different Bidding Structures

Automatic bids focus on the lowest cost, while manual bidding gives you more control over your cost per acquisition (CPA) to stay within your target advertising cost. You can test both of these bidding models depending on the ads you’re running. VO is auto only, while you may find that AEO is better for manual bidding. Stay tuned as VO manual bidding will be coming soon for Facebook advertisers.

You should also consider testing bid types with and without auto bidding. Manual bidding will require manual bid adjustments to maintain scale, which may trigger significant edits if you change more than 30%, but it can be more efficient in certain circumstances.

  • MAI – auto and manual bid both available
  • AEO – auto and manual bid both available
  • VO – the auto bid is the only current option, but the manual bid is in beta and coming soon


Increase Your Bid Amounts Incrementally to Find the Sweet Spot

Higher bids will give you more access to high-quality inventory, so try bidding high to capture paying users on AEO. Test a 10% change on your bids. If no significant edit was triggered, make a 20% change. Incrementally increase your bid until you find the tipping point. You can run this test on small and big budgets separately because smaller budgets will absorb a greater percent change without triggering the significant edit.

Note, it’s important that campaigns, ad sets, and ads should never be paused if you intend to spend additional money with them in the future. Any pause is considered a significant edit and restarts the Facebook platform learning phase. You want your ads to graduate into Facebook’s optimized phase. In this phase, your ads will be rewarded and you should see an uptick in performance.


Target Your Audience and Ad Placements

When running AEO or VO bidding, it’s a Facebook best practice to run both broad targetings with all placements and auto-bidding. This allows Facebook to dynamically adjust bids and find the right audience regardless of the product they are using.

Test different audience types with different bid types to maximize reach while hitting financial goals. Here are the Facebook best practices:

  • MAI – lookalike audiences
  • AEO – interests with wide-open age targeting 18-64+ (testing required to determine if targeting expansion is helpful)
  • VO – broad audiences to maximize reach, use wide-open age targeting 18-64+


Manage Your Daily Ad Spend Effectively

To land at the desired daily spend level without pausing your budget or triggering a significant edit, you can utilize Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) and set the desired daily budget at the campaign levels, or set auto bidding. This ensures all your daily budget will be spent.


Starting Budget Recommendations for Ad Sets for Non-CBO Campaigns

Brand new accounts with no existing historical data should use a multi-ad structure. Use at least 2-3 ads minimum to start, within a single ad set, with budgets set at $100-$200 for the entire ad set.

Existing accounts with sufficient historical data should use a multi-ad structure with higher budgets (>$200 for the entire ad set). There is an obvious advantage to launching non-CBO ads with existing historical data. This is because you already have a general sense of which ads work and do not work.


Scale Your Volume Safely

You can safely continue scaling an existing CBO budget after all ads have completed the learning phase. But there’s a spend threshold where the return on advertising spend (ROAS) will be impacted. As a result, you will have two choices. First, to launch new audiences under new ad sets within the same campaign. Or second, to launch new ads within the existing ad sets.


Make Significant Edits Only When Necessary

You’ll have a positive impact on your campaigns if you make significant edits when pushing a new ad and re-setting the learning phase. Or, if you’re deleting a negative ad to avoid it counting towards your history.

Additionally, if you build up a negative history with an ad that stops performing well, you would benefit from the significant edit. It also makes sense to pause an ad and re-launch if it performed well and then stopped performing well at some point.


What’s Next After Reducing Ad Spend?

After you’ve successfully applied Facebook’s best practices for structuring your media buying, you can begin shifting your focus to generating high-performing Facebook ad creative. This will becomes the primary differentiator in your campaigns and financial success. Constant creative testing of copy, video, and images becomes imperative to your campaign objectives. A large volume of creative is needed to achieve and sustain ROAS. Especially as creative rapidly fatigues with increased spend and audience reach. Moreover, 95% of creative fail to outperform your portfolio’s best. So even when having a high-performing creative, you need to think about replacing it. By adopting Facebook’s best practices and focusing on a winning creative strategy, you’ll be able to beat the competition. Thus, start reaping the rewards this year.

facebook ad spend


Read Our

Creative & UA Best Practices For Facebook, Google, TikTok & Snap ads.

    Please prove you are human by selecting the House.