After announcing a coming limit on how many ads a business Page can run at any given time in November last year, Facebook has now outlined exactly how its new regulations will apply, with four tiers of advertiser categories that will define how many ads each can run concurrently. Which, Facebook says, will help maximize ad performance.
As explained by Facebook:
"When an advertiser runs too many ads at once, each ad delivers less often. This means that fewer ads exit the learning phase, and more budget is spent before the delivery system can optimize performance."
The 'learning phase' in this context is the period within which Facebook's ad system is 'learning' how to maximize your ad performance, based on who your ad is shown to, how they respond, and how that aligns with your campaign goals.
"During the learning phase, the delivery system is exploring the best way to deliver your ad set - so performance is less stable and cost-per-action (CPA) is usually worse. The learning phase occurs when you create a new ad or ad set or make a significant edit to an existing one."
Essentially, you need to run your Facebook ads for a period of time to see optimal results - and when advertisers run lots of ads at the same time, Facebook says that many promotions never get that chance.
"We discovered that four in ten running ads fail to exit the learning phase, and many of these ads come from advertisers running too many ads at the same time. For this reason, we’re implementing a limit on the number of ads each Page can run at once."
Facebook's almost limitless ad targeting and customization options provide huge advantages, but it can also be tempting to constantly tinker with the details as you see the results come in - especially if you're running many ad variants. According to Facebook's data, that's problematic, which is why it's implementing new limits on how many ads you can run.
But don't worry - the limits are pretty generous:
So even the smallest Facebook advertisers will still be able to run 250 ads at once, which is a lot, especially given the spending thresholds. Though it may be problematic for, say, the Trump campaign, which reportedly spent nearly $20 million on more than 218,000 different Facebook ads over the course of 2019.
When you average it out, it's actually probably not even a problem in that case, as the campaign would still be able to run 20k ads at any one time. So the scope is fairly wide, though it will have some impacts on those looking to run lots of Facebook ads for their latest offers.
The new limits will come into effect from February 2021, with a rolling implementation for Pages from that time - so you still have some time to refine your ads down in order to meet the above thresholds. Advertisers will be able to see when their ad limit will go into effect within Ads Manager.
In some ways, it's strange to see Facebook actively limiting ad spend - if you want to spend the money, they should probably just let you do it. But then again, poor results don't reflect well on Facebook overall as an ad platform. If Facebook can provide better results, in a way that, realistically, won't have a major impact on overall ad spend, that's probably better for Facebook and its partners, as it will enable Facebook to demonstrate better ROI and encourage further investment.
You can read more about Facebook's coming ad limits here.