The ultimate guide to Facebook ads automation
When your Facebook campaigns have a lot of ad sets and ads, it becomes a time-consuming process to manage everything. Bringing automation to your Facebook ads will save you significant time by removing the need of monitoring performance daily while still making sure you're getting a healthy ROI.
Here's some quick use cases of Facebook ads automation before we get into the details. You can automatically pause low performing ads before wasting too much budget. Or you can increase budgets as soon as an ad set starts performing well - all without having to refresh the Facebook Ads Manager every hour.
Sounds pretty amazing right?
- Using automation with Facebook ads will save you money and time, and help you scale your campaigns
- Ad automation works 24/7 making data driven decisions as soon as scaling opportunities arise
- You can automate bid and budget management, duplication, creation, and more
If you want to significantly increase ad performance and scale your Facebook ad campaigns while spending less time on manual work, this guide is for you. Read on to discover how to use automated rules.
Navigate the guide
- What are Facebook automated rules?
- Why use Facebook ads automation?
- How Facebook ads automation fits into your strategy
- Best Facebook automated rules with examples
- Troubleshooting Facebook automated rules
- How to create your first Revealbot automation
- Bonus: Automated rules cheat sheet
- Wrapping up
In this guide, I’ll show you how to set up Facebook ads automation using Facebook's native automated rules and several basic strategies to get started. I'll also show you what more you can do with Revealbot's Facebook ad software, which is easier to use and gives you more options than the standard (native) Facebook automated rules.
What are Facebook automated rules?
Facebook Automated Rules is a free advertising tool available to all Facebook advertisers that lets you create automation formulas that automatically perform an action when certain conditions are met. Those conditions in your automated rules are continuously checked so they're always running to help manage your Facebook Ads for you.
Facebook Automated rules (also can be referred to as Facebook ad rules) can be applied to all levels of the Facebook account structure (campaigns, ad sets, and ads) as conditional criteria to trigger an action in your automated rules.
To begin using Facebook Automated Rules you'll need a campaign with at least one ad set and ad.
You can access Facebook automated rules from the business tools menu anywhere you are inside the Facebook ads manager.
Don't have a campaign yet? There are two ways to create one:
- Manually create a campaign in the Facebook Ads Manager.
- Use Revealbot's Bulk Creation feature to set up multiple ad sets and ads fast (but this is a whole other topic).
When the campaign setup is done you can move on to the automated rules setup. For basic rules you'll be able to use Facebook's native automated rules tool. To use additional actions and more complex conditions (such as duplication, metric comparison, custom metrics, different timeframes in one rule, etc) you'll need to use Revealbot.
Why use Facebook ads automation?
Recent updates to the Facebook algorithm and the Instagram algorithm resulted in users spending less time in the news feed, so now the ~5 million Facebook advertisers have to fight even more vigorously for users' attention. For us advertisers, this has caused higher CPM's and makes achieving our desired cost per action more difficult.
Now more than ever, we need to be more efficient with how we allocate our ad budget. To do this, we have to frequently launch new ad sets, pause underperforming ad sets, adjust budgets and bids, and duplicate ad sets and ads. The good news is some of these tasks can be automated and done without lifting a finger using Facebook Automated Rules (and all can be done with Revealbot).
Facebook Ads Automation gets you out of the infinite loop of a launch-pause-relaunch routine so you can scale your campaigns efficiently and effectively.
Once ad automation is set up, it will take the appropriate action faster than you can spot it and correct.
So as you get started setting up automated rules for your Facebook campaigns, think about the things you frequently look for in Ads Manager and the actions you have to take from those insights. For example:
- Do you pause ad sets when they hit specific spend but have zero conversions?
- Do you increase the ad set budget based on ROAS?
- Do you increase your bid if the delivery is low?
- Do you duplicate ad sets if they perform well?
Campaigns of any scale require daily check-in and management, which is why those who spend a significant part of their marketing budgets on Facebook Ads and don't use automated rules lose a lot of money and opportunity.
Who should use Facebook automated rules?
I think every Facebook advertiser can benefit from using automated rules, even if you run an account with modest spend and don't expect that spend to increase significantly.
If you're trying to scale your Facebook Ads, you'll definitely benefit from using Facebook ad automation as you can create automated rules that can help you turn off underperforming ad sets and increase budgets when ad sets perform well to quickly test different creatives and audiences you've discovered from your Facebook Audience Insights.
For the same reasons, if you're spending over $10,000 in Facebook Ads monthly, you should be using several automated rules not only to save you time, but also to make quicker adjustments that will results in less wasted spend and a better ROAS.
How Facebook ads automation fits into your strategy
Now that you know a little more about what Facebook Automated Rules are and why businesses big and small include them into their marketing strategy, let’s see how you can actually use this tool to optimize your campaigns.
First, I’ll go over the marketing fundamentals and then move on to what automation can do for your business.
Fundamentals of the customer acquisition funnel
Start with the key metrics for your funnel that you want to optimize: from ad view (impression) to conversion.
Some examples of KPIs depending on your business:
For mobile apps:
- Cost per mobile app install
- Cost per mobile app tutorial (level) completed
- Cost per mobile app checkout initiated
- Cost per mobile app purchase
- Mobile app purchase ROAS
For B2C companies with spontaneous purchases it can be:
- Cost per lead
- Cost per website checkout initiated
- Cost per website purchase
- Website purchase ROAS
For B2B companies with a longer sales cycle:
- Cost per lead (of a content download)
- Cost per lead (of a demo request)
- Cost per custom event (ex: free trial)
- Cost per website purchase (ex: free trial)
Find your maximum cost per result
The next step is to identify the maximum cost for each step of your funnel.
Let’s assume that your business model works if the cost per paying customer in your mobile app is less than $30. You know that 10% of those who install the app become paying customers. That means the maximum cost per app install you can afford to pay is $3.
With this same method, you can define the maximum cost for every step of the funnel for your business model. If you can't calculate this using your historical data, most business models work if you earn 3x more than you spent on an ad campaign.
How automating Facebook ads can grow your business
Now that you've defined your funnel and the maximum amount your willing to pay to get someone to each step of the funnel, we can look at where Facebook ads automation comes in.
Just like how a machine is more efficient than a human in terms of mechanical tasks, Facebook Automated Rules will outperform any marketer in terms of day-to-day operations of Facebook Ads.
This is because after you set up an automated rule with its conditions, the rule will take action (also called firing) as soon as those conditions are met.
Ad spend over $100 with no conversions? Immediate pause. Cheap conversions today? Immediate budget increase.
Whether you have five or 5,000 ads, the rule will always fire. For us advertisers, it means more efficient budget allocation, more revenue for our businesses, and higher ROAS.
Analyze how you make a decision before taking an action and set the same conditions so that the automated rule can perform the action for you.
Here's the available actions you can automate with Facebook Automated Rules:
The first rule Revealbot customers usually set up is pausing underperforming ad sets (more rules examples below).
With automated rules, you can automatically scale your best performing ad sets both horizontally and vertically. What does that mean? Check our advanced guide on scaling Facebook Ads for copy-and-paste scaling recipes.
For now, just know that bringing automation to your Facebook Ads can go beyond just daily maintenance to help you significantly scale your campaigns.
Automating Facebook ad creative testing
Testing dozens of ad creatives is also much easier with Facebook Ads automation. Top advertisers and agencies are using Revealbot's Bulk Creation to set up multiple ads and ad sets in seconds and test them against each other to see which combinations produce the best results.
You can even set up an ad rotation rule to make sure that each ad gets equal impressions before evaluating its performance. Check out our guide on automating Facebook Ad rotation to see how to set it up.
For now, this isn't available in the native Facebook Automated Rules toolkit and only available in Revealbot's Facebook Automation Software.
Best Facebook ads automation rules with examples
Pause underperforming ad sets and ads
Most Revealbot customers begin with the rules relating to pausing underperformers. They are probably the easiest to set up and the first to bring value.
The hardest part is to define the best moment when you're completely certain about ad inefficiency. It may not seem tricky at first glance, but pausing ads too early is just as bad as too late, because you may stop a good ad that just didn’t have enough time to prove it. Let's look at the most common pause scenarios.
Not a single sale after enough ad spend
Let's say your maximum cost per purchase (CPA) you can afford to spend is $46.65. We could pause an ad set if it has spent that much but hasn't resulted in a sale. However, I recommend giving the ad set some room to breathe and allow it to spend up to 1.5x your max CPA (in this case $70). Here's how that automated rule will look:
You can take this same formula and use it for other metrics like when CPC is too high, or AddToCart too expensive. This could be an earlier indicator of poor performance.
Ad Sets with declining performance
Here's a similar rule that pauses ad sets that have spent a good amount of money and did have at least one purchase, but the cost per purchase has become too high.
Pause ad set if Spend > $200 and Purchases > 0 and Cost per Purchase > $50
You can combine conditions with Facebook automated rules only by an 'and' operator. In other words, you can't fire a rule if one or more conditions are met (an 'or' operator) - they all have to be true.
In Revealbot, you have the ability to use 'or' operators to combine multiple conditions and you can even nest conditions.
Monitoring sudden drops in performance
Another available option is to use two different time frames to monitor both short term and long term performance. For example, you can compare the cost per purchase in the last 3 days to the last 7 days.
You can only compare metrics and time frames like this to each other in Revealbot's Facebook Ad tool and it's one of my favorite features.
This type of monitoring is especially important for ad sets that run on large budgets and have a lot of conversions. By checking recent statistics, such as the last three days, you'll be able to see if a great ad set has recently gone bad.
And instead of Purchase, you can track any event like Click, Lead, Install, Checkout Initiated, Custom Events, and so on. In other words, you should select the metric that you can get enough valid statistical data for in the selected time frame.
Pausing ad sets with low ROAS
If you run an ecommerce business where prices and quantities vary or an app with monthly and yearly subscription plans, ROAS is the right metric to track.
Before using this in automated rules, you should have the lowest ROAS you're willing to accept already defined. If not, a general rule is to have at least a ROAS of 3.0 if the target ROAS is unknown. In that case, you can make the following rule:
Pause ad set if Spend > $70 and ROAS < 3
Which means that this ad set will pause if more than $70 is spent and recorded purchase revenue is less than $210 ($70 x 3).
Similar for mobile apps:
Pause ad set if Spend > $100 and App Purchase Revenue < 3 * Spend
Relaunch ad sets and ads with late conversions
The time a customer needs to convert varies – oftentimes an ad set can have zero purchases, you pause it, and then a few people convert in the following days.
Turn ad sets back on with good performance
You can use automated rules to relaunch ad sets that have been prematurely paused either manually or from one of your other automated rules.
Start ad set if Cost per Purchase < $50 (last 12 hrs) and Purchases > 0 (last 12 hrs)
This automated rule looks for paused ad sets with at least one purchase with a total cost per purchase under $50 in the last 12 hours.
In my experience, if the ad set was paused longer than that it loses some optimization data and might not work well anymore. If that's the case, relaunch the ad set as a new ad set.
Turn ad sets back on
Here is another example why you'd want to unpause an ad set. Say a rule checks daily metrics and pauses ad sets if Cost per Result is too high. But Facebook is infamous for its volatility and even an exceptional ad can have a bad day. So you'd want to relaunch it the next day if its last 7 days metrics are good.
This rule will unpause those ad sets that are off right now, were paused yesterday, but performed well in the last 7 days.
Start ad set if Impressions < 100 (yesterday) and Cost per Purchase < $50 (Last 7 days) and Purchases > 1 (Last 7 days)
You need to set up a custom schedule for such a rule so that it runs only at midnight. Again, this level of sophisticated automation is only available through Revealbot's Facebook Ads Tool.
Increase budgets for top performing campaigns and ad sets
As with any other investment, not only do you need to pause unprofitable campaigns, but also invest more in the best performing ones.
Conditions are similar to the pause rules, but do the opposite.
Increase budget on a good day
Set budget to $500 once a day if Purchases > 2 and Cost per Purchase < $30
This automated rule only increases the budget on a given day when performance is good, which in this case is more than two purchases at a cost per purchase of less than $30.
Increase budget relative to performance
You can also have separate rules for when the metrics are good and when they are great – and increase the budget accordingly.
If your maximum cost per acquisition is $30, then you can set up an automated rule that increases budget for a good ad set (similar to the above rule):
Increase budget by 20% once a day if Purchases > 5 and Cost per Purchase < $30 and Cost per Purchase >= $20
Here's what this rule looks like in Facebook's native Automated Rule creator:
But if it turns out you have a killer ad set with CPA < $20, you would definitely want to pour even more money into it. So you can create a separate rule for ad sets, in our case, that has a cost per purchase below $20.
Increase Budget by 100% once a day if Purchases > 5 and Cost per Purchase < $20
These two rules together increase the budget for the day moderately for good performers and a lot for top performers. Using Facebook's automated rules for this ensures you're taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Similarly, these types of rules also work for ROAS.
Increase Budget by 100% once a day if Purchases > 5 and ROAS > 3
You can add an ‘increase budget’ condition only when you have already spent half of your daily budget.
Increase Budget by 50% once a day If ROAS > 3 and Spend (today) > 0.5 * Daily Budget
In most cases, Facebook does a pretty decent job of optimizing the bid to get you the lowest cost for result. But if you want to control your cost per optimization event in some way, you can add a bid cap or set target costs.
Increase the bid for ads with low impressions
The following rule will increase the bid if it is too low for an ad to go into the auction:
Increase bid by $0.5 every 2 hours Impressions < 100 (last 2 hrs)
Increase the bid to prioritize high performing ads
If one of your ads is doing really well, you can prioritize it in the auction by setting a higher bid for this exact ad:
Increase ad bid by $0.25 once a day Cost Per Lead > $10 (Today) and Leads >= 2 (Today) Cost per Lead < Cost per Lead (ad set level)
Duplicating ad sets and ads
This is another interesting tactic that many marketers use. Duplication helps automate two strategies: 1) horizontal scaling 2) relaunching ad sets that were paused.
This rule will scale the campaign by duplicating successful ad sets:
Duplicate ad set once in a lifetime if Spend > $100 and Purchase > 0 and Cost Per Purchase < $50
Here's an article we wrote on why you might want to duplicate an ad set.
To duplicate an ad set that was paused, set up the following rule:
Apply to: ad sets status – inactive Duplicate ad set once in a lifetime if Time is less than 12p.m.
The following rule can do that:
Start ad if Hours since creation is less than 1
Troubleshooting Facebook automated rules
Sometimes your rule may show some unexpected behavior. To dive deeper into why the rule triggered or did not, you can always check the logs or activity for each rule.
Just click on the "Activity" tab in Facebook's Automated Rules section to see a history of your rules.
Or if you're using Revealbot, you can see your history in our Logs section, which also contains a log of reasons why your campaigns, ad sets, or ads did NOT trigger a particular rule.
This makes it really easy to pinpoint errors and improvements in your Facebook Ad automation system.
And if you're already a Revealbot user, you can always reach out to our customer support team for questions.
How to create your first Revealbot automation
Once you have defined your core funnel and their values, you can begin setting up your first rule.
1. Choose from scratch or an existing Strategy
You have the option to start creating a rule from scratch or to choose one of Revealbot's strategies. For the purpose of this guide, we'll start from scratch.
2. Give your automated rule a clear name
It should be easy to tell what the rule does without accessing it. Best practice for naming is stating the action that it does, followed by the condition.
- Pause Ad Set if Spend > $100, Purchase < 1
- Increase Budget once a day if CPA < $25
- Increase Bid by $0.5 if Impressions < 1 (last 2 hrs)
3. Select what objects you want the rule to apply to
The rules can be applied to any level of the Facebook ad hierarchy - the ad account, campaign, ad set, or ad. Ad set level is the most commonly used. You can only associate a single rule with objects on the same level.
On the left sidebar, you'll choose the object level. In the main window, you'll select the objects. You can select at the campaign level and therefore select all ad sets (or ads) in that campaign. You can select at the ad set level and therefore select all ads in that campaign. Or you can go through one by one and manually select the objects you want you want your rule to apply to.
Alternatively, you can select "Selection filter" on the bottom of the left sidebar and choose your objects and object level based on filter criteria for a more dynamic selection. If any future object that you creates meets your selected criteria, the rule will apply to the new object which is really nice.
4. Choose what your automated rule does
- Pause campaigns, ad sets, or ads
- Start (unpause) campaigns, ad sets, ads
- Increase, decrease, or set the budget (by value or percentage)
- Set bid strategy to either automatic, target cost, or lowest cost with a cap
- Increase, decrease, or set the bid (by value or percentage)
- Duplicate campaigns, ad sets, ads
- Add or remove any text from the campaign, ad set, or ad name
- Delete a campaign, ad set, or ad
In this, I'll choose to pause my selected ad sets.
5. Define conditions
When you create a rule for your campaign, ad set, or ad, you choose the criteria that trigger your rule. These are called "conditions". This is the heart of your automation. See most common conditions and actions in the Ways to Use Automated Rules section.
6. Set the conversion attribution window
The rule of thumb is to set the same conversion window as you use for optimization.
7. Set alerts
With Revealbot, you can get updates on triggered actions to your email or you can get updated on your Facebook Ad Automations through Slack. We're also working on getting notifications to Facebook Messenger soon.
By default in Facebook's native platform, you'll always get Facebook notifications when rules are fired. Your only other option for notifications is via email.
8. Set the rule check frequency
In Revealbot you can set the check interval from as little as 15 minutes to 72 hours or use a custom schedule. In Facebook's native ad rules platform, you can only choose "Continuously" which runs as often as possible around every 30 minutes or so. It will also default to the same conversion window you use for optimization without the ability to customize it.
Bonus: Automated rules cheat sheet
To help you start right away, we’ve prepared a cheat sheet with the most effective and commonly used automated rules you can use today. Use these examples as a framework for your own optimization strategy.
Get your Facebook Automated Rules Cheat Sheet here.
Thanks for making it all the way to this point! Hope the info was useful and inspired you to improve your ad performance even more. This guide was built to collect the best techniques for automating Facebook Ads. I will update it regularly with new tips and tricks.
If you tried automating your Facebook Ads campaigns – what strategies have you used and what results did you get? Feel free to share in the comments – I’d be glad to add them to the guide.