Once you are into paid advertising, you’re faced with a multitude of opportunities for your business—as well as numerous pitfalls. Apparently, you’re looking to spend smartly and boost ROAS (return on advertising spend), recruiting more customers to your product or service. For best results, you need to test plenty of audiences and see how each of them responds to your ads. Otherwise, you might end up wasting funds on non-converting populations.

With 2.27 billion monthly active users, Facebook unlocks a wealth of targeting options to its advertisers. You may pick the right audience based on geo, age, gender, interests, and more criteria, thus increasing efficiency of your day-to-day promos. Which tools and entities in Facebook Ads help you get the utmost of ad budgets?

First off, the Facebook ad platform encompasses three structural tiers: campaign, ad set, and ad. On the campaign level, you get to define your goals. What is it that you want to accomplish: increase brand awareness, drive traffic, ensure more app installs, generate leads, encourage more views for your content… The total of 11 advertising objectives are at your disposal. A standalone ad is pretty self-explanatory. On the ad level, you may come up with multiple options and test which creatives, headlines, copy, and CTAs yield more clicks.

Facebook Ads Marketing Objectives

In the middle of this hierarchy sits the ad set, a container for one or more ads that bears its specific targeting attributes. This is exactly where you decide who should view your promo content. Plus, on this step you set up your budget, bid, and placement. You can choose Facebook to do auto-bidding for you or go the extra mile and manage bids manually. Last but not least, you pick the ad placement: desktop or mobile, Facebook or Instagram (or both), in the newsfeed or right column, whatever floats your boat.

Since you don’t want to put all eggs in one basket, you end up with multiple ad sets based on diverse choices. Now, it’s time to test your sets against real Facebook users. Here’s a few tips and tactics that will help your promo content shine while you keep the spend within reasonable limits.

1. Employ granular targeting

The rule of thumb here is: Tap into all the perks and advanced options Facebook has to offer. ‘Narrow further’ your audience to avoid superfluous reach and spend, and ensure pinpoint accuracy. At that, don’t get misled. For instance, when you ‘INCLUDE people who match at least ONE of the following’, make sure you specify the query with ‘MUST ALSO match at least ONE of the following’. Otherwise, you might be showing ads to vast all-inclusive audiences.

Imagine you need to spread the word of an upcoming sport memorabilia expo hosted by Harvard University. A dubious combination, but works just fine for our purposes. If you just include Harvard graduates OR  baseball fans OR sports memorabilia collectors, this will exhaust your budget in vain and in a matter of minutes.

Ad Set Audience setup

Ad Set Audience setup

Another nifty option is exclusion targeting. This feature allows you to take people off the intended audience. Use this option to protect ad sets from cross-bidding against one another. In our context, show one ad set to Harvard graduates rooting for Red Sox and the other set to those alumni who, by exclusion, root for someone else.

2. Avoid self-competition

Speaking of the devil: when you run multiple ad sets at the same time to the same audience, chances are some of them will be left behind. That’s how Facebook Ads works. It’s an auction-based platform that picks the highest bidding sets to deliver to target populations.

Is there a workaround? In fact, there is. One way is to resort to exclusion targeting as suggested before. This helps you prevent overlaps and make each campaign perform its best for a selected audience. Alternatively, you can play with scheduling settings and run these ad sets separately on different days.

Facebook Ads scheduling

Need to convey diverse promos to identical segments? Use multiple ads within a single set. There’s no competition on the ad level.

3. Test ads within ad sets

Picking up on the point above: when it comes to various creatives and copy, knock yourself out. Facebook enables you to view standalone results for each ad and determine which one works better for your selected population. Thus, you can show multiple concurrent ads targeted at the same audience without falling into your own trap.

To recap, that’s how you curb self-competition and bloated costs. Plus, you get to validate hypotheses and evaluate a host of options rather than focus on a single creative. The more data you have stacked in ad reports, the more practical guidance you achieve for further campaigns.

4. CPC or CPM? That is the question

In Facebook ads, you can optimize ads for multiple actions depending on campaign objectives. Based on your choice, the system will re-adjust potential audiences for your selected ad set.

Here are some examples for the traffic goal. The landing page views option will render your ads to ‘people who are more likely to click on your ad's link and load the website’. If you choose link clicks, your ads will be served to the populations who are most likely to click on them. Daily reach is used to cap frequency up to once per day. If you pick impressions, your ads will be served to people as many times as possible, etc.

Ads Set budget and schedule

Now, pause for a second and think of your advertising strategy. Which goals are you pursuing? Boost brand recognition and cater to the mid/long-term perspective, or push your audience down the funnel for immediate results? Here’s another conjecture. If you go with clicks, you risk restricting the reach to a fairly loose and undefined population of ‘habitual ad clickers’. Should you aim for a billboard effect—a maximum number of views, spend your funds based on CPM.

5. Take control of your bids

Trust Facebook Ads but always cut the cards. That is, you can choose to bid automatically but it never hurts to explore other opportunities. Manual bids may yield better results at a cheaper rate if you have the time and willingness to experiment. Run a few ads varying targeting options on the ad set level—the more you practice, the better hunches you get. Facebook is smart, yet the most appropriate bid for your specific audience is something you’ll need to figure out by trial and error.

You might think that Facebook inflates its ‘suggested bid’ to drain dry your funds faster. Rest assured it’s not the case. In fact, it often makes sense to bid higher than suggested. Should you go with CPM, you’ll be recommended a price range for 1,000 impressions based on selected audience. If you up the ante, you will automatically unlock greater reach. At that, you’ll realize your actual costs are way down the maximum CPM you’ve set.

Ad Set bidding setup

6. Automate what you can with Bulk Creation Tool

The whole ad set story may appear overwhelming to beginners and seasoned Facebook advertisers alike. Luckily, the market offers a host of ad automation solutions to lift the burden off stressed-out marketers. Revealbot, for one, includes the Bulk Creation Tool that helps upload creatives (images, video, copy, etc.) in bulk and generate ad variations on the fly. With this tool, you can quickly create multiple ad sets comprised of heterogeneous content.

Revealbot Bulk Creation

Replacing the grunt work with easy controls, Bulk Creation enables the marketer to split-test ads against specific audiences. Revealbot also resolves ad set naming issues that have caused friction among the platform’s aficionados. The tool involves a macros to create UTM tags and solidify naming conventions based on your preferences. With a wealth of differentiators, you can filter reports in a snap and get quick insights into ad set performance.

In conclusion

That’s the essence of how you can employ ad sets to improve ROIs and make user acquisition a little less challenging. At all times, make sure you are in the driver’s seat. Don’t be afraid to go beyond Facebook presets, explore advanced features, manual bidding, and optimization options. A self-sufficient and mature industry per se, Facebook advertising has spawned an ecosystem of auxiliary software tools. Leveraging the automation technology, you can speed up any tweaks and customizations, and save time for strategic decisions. Now that you hold all the aces, go create your winning ad set and let us know how it went.