What is the Facebook Ads Learning Phase? And Why Does it Matter?

Facebook ads learning phase

The Facebook ads learning phase is critical to their campaign optimization process. Here’s how it works:

How the Facebook Ads Learning Phase Works:

When you create an ad set and select an objective, Facebook will optimise your campaign for that objective.

In other words, Facebook will put your ads in front of people that are most likely to take your desired action.

For example, if you select the traffic objective, Facebook will serve your ads to the ‘clickiest’ people in your target audience.

To do this effectively, Facebook needs to experiment early on and show your ads to different types of people within your target audience. That way they can work out who is most likely to take your desired action.

How Long Does the Learning Phase Last?

Facebook’s learning phase usually ends when you have generated 50 optimization events.

What that optimization event is, depends on your objective.

50 optimization events for a lead ad campaign would be 50 leads. Whereas 50 events for a conversions campaign would be 50 conversions.

It’s important to note that if you’re optimizing for conversions, the 50 conversions will need to occur inside your conversion window.

A 7 day conversion window means you need to generate at least 50 conversions per week for your campaigns to be optimized properly.

If you’re running a conversions campaign and generating significantly less than 50 conversions per week, you may want to use another objective such as traffic.

Facebook won’t stop gathering data and optimizing your ad sets after the learning phase has ended.

The longer your ad sets are active and the more optimization events you generate, the easier it will be for Facebook to optimise your campaigns. This should lead to a reduced cost per optimization event and more stable results.

Facebook shows you which ad sets are currently in the learning phase in the Delivery column:

Facebook ads learning phase reporting

Image source: TamiBrehse.com

Facebook also lets you know when the learning phase has been completed:

Facebook ads initial learning complete

Why Does the Learning Phase Matter?

The learning phase is crucial for consistently generating great results from your Facebook ad campaigns.

Facebook’s optimization process can make a big difference to your cost per optimization event, but it can take time.

It’s very important that you don’t make major adjustments to your ad sets during the learning phase. Doing so can reset the learning phase before you’ve had a chance to generate meaningful data.

Not making adjustments early on can be difficult to do, particularly for Facebook advertising beginners.

During the learning phase your Facebook ad campaigns will be at their least effective and results are likely to fluctuate significantly. But it’s best to resist the temptation to tinker with things until the learning phase has been completed.

One of my top Facebook advertising tips, is to not give up on your Facebook ads too early. This is especially true when your ad sets are going through the learning phase.

Don’t judge your ad sets’ performance until the learning phase has finished. You’ll get a much more accurate representation of your ad sets’ performance once they have.

As a Facebook advertising agency we've helped hundreds of clients achieve fantastic results through Facebook.

If you would like to find out more about our services, you can book a free 30-minute strategy session.

When Does the Learning Phase Restart?

You won’t trigger the learning phase to restart every time you make an adjustment to your ad set or the ads within it.

For example, making small adjustments to your Facebook ad budget or setting a bid cap won’t restart the learning phase.

But the majority of edits, and particularly significant ones will restart the learning phase.

Facebook have told us that the following adjustments are likely to restart the learning phase:

  • Any change to targeting
  • Any change to ad creative
  • Pausing your ad set for 7 days or longer
  • Any change to optimization event
  • Adding a new ad to your ad set

If you do need to make significant adjustments to your ad set or ads then by all means do so. Don’t let the learning phase stop you from doing that.

Just make sure that you do so once, and then wait until after the learning phase has been completed again before assessing performance.

How to Get the Most Out of the Facebook Ads Learning Phase

One of the keys to success with Facebook advertising is to create a full sales funnel, instead of just relying on one ad campaign.

With that being said, it can be a good idea to make sure you have all your Facebook ad campaigns in place before starting your TOF (top of funnel) campaign. That way Facebook can correctly optimise your campaigns during the learning phase.

If you want to know how to create a full Facebook advertising sales funnel, you should check out my 30-Day Facebook Advertising Launch Plan.

It takes you step-by-step through my exact process and is one of the best resources I have created.

Conclusion

The Facebook ads learning phase is really a important part of Facebook’s ad set optimization process.

It usually lasts until 50 optimization events have been generated and is reset when significant edits are made to an ad set or the ads within it.

During the learning phase you are likely to see inconsistent and fluctuating results.

You should not make significant adjustments to your ad sets during the Facebook ads learning phase if they can be helped.

And you should not judge performance until after the learning phase has been completed.

What’s your experience with Facebook’s learning phase been?

Let me know in the comments section.

About The Author

Ben Heath

Ben Heath is a Facebook advertising expert, writer and the Founder of Lead Guru. Alongside creating content for our online community, he works closely with our clients to develop and implement Facebook advertising strategies that deliver industry leading ROIs.

27 Comments

  • Avatar

    Lawrence

    Reply Reply November 13, 2018

    Hi,

    I started a FB conversion ad (for the 1st time) 3 days ago and it’s undergoing the learning phase.

    So far , it has not made any conversions but the adset did about 2k impressions.

    What is you recommendation ? Do I extend my “testing/learning” window for a few more days or would it be best to leave it alone and allow this to come to a gradual end?

    Any recommendation / advise to take this further is appreciated?

    Regards
    Lawrence

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply November 13, 2018

      Hi Lawrence, for a conversion campaign to properly optimise you’re looking for around 50 conversions so you won’t complete the learning phase for a while. Whether you should kill your campaign or not depends on how much you’ve spent and what your willing to pay per conversion?

  • Avatar

    zan

    Reply Reply January 25, 2019

    hi
    why my FB conversion ad Do not show learning phase.
    Do you know what the reason is?

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply January 26, 2019

      Have you just launched the campaign? If it’s been running a few days then it would have completed the initial learning phase.

  • Avatar

    John

    Reply Reply January 30, 2019

    Hi Ben – found your page researching a question regarding that “learning phase”.

    I ran into an issue I cannot figure out: All the ads I run are set for Facebook’s conversion objective and tied to a custom conversion event I set up.

    But for some reason, some of the ad campaigns I run with this objective will show a “learning phase” – but some others (even though they have the identical setup, just different ad content) – will show no learning phase. They will simply be “active”, but without any display of that “learning phase”.

    Maybe coincidentally or maybe not, the ad campaigns WITH the learning phase came in at a lower cost per conversion – the ad campaigns without Facebook showing the learning phase show a higher cost per conversion.

    Have you experienced this? What could I be missing that some ad campaigns seem to have a “learning phase” and some others don’t – even if they have the exact same structure?

    Thanks a lot in advance for your insights!

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply January 31, 2019

      Hi John, that does sound quite strange. The first thing to note is that the Facebook ad platform is buggy so the ad sets may not be showing that they are in the learning phase when they actually are.

      Also are the ad sets that aren’t showing they’re in the learning phase new ad sets? They may have been through the learning phase previously if they’re not.

      • Avatar

        John

        Reply Reply February 2, 2019

        They are are new ad sets inside a new ads campaign – so no prior learning phase. Also, other ad sets with a completed learning course say “learning completed” underneath. These don’t show anything.

        I contacted Facebook’s ad support team but only got generalized answers, something like “our algorithm will determine if a learning phase is actually needed – otherwise the ad will deliver right away without learning phase” … didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

        I appreciate your feedback. I am sure others have experienced this as well. I just couldn’t find any documentation on this topic of “not having a learning phase” 😉

        • Avatar

          Ben Heath

          Reply Reply February 4, 2019

          That is very interesting. Thanks for sharing – as you say there may be other cases of this but I haven’t seen it before. One thought is that if you have generated many conversions in that account already, Facebook may already have a lot of data that it can use to optimise for your objective.

  • Avatar

    Gus

    Reply Reply January 31, 2019

    Hi Ben,
    If I want to keep the same creative and targeting but would like to dynamically change the text in the ad, how would you recommend that I go about that without resetting the learning phase?

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply January 31, 2019

      Hi Gus, I don’t think it’s possible to make anything more than slight changes to the text without triggering the learning phase.

  • Avatar

    Kd

    Reply Reply January 31, 2019

    Hi Ben,
    How would I go about periodically adjusting the ad header text without triggering the ad to start the learning phase again? I’m not adjusting the targeting or the creative just the text.

    Thanks

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply January 31, 2019

      Changing the header will automatically restart the learning phase. You could create duplicate the ad and edit the header in the new version. That new ad will go through the learning phase but the existing one won’t.

  • Avatar

    natasha

    Reply Reply March 3, 2019

    Hi Ben,

    Some of my ads are now out of learning phase, what would you advise to do next?

    Thanks 🙂

  • Avatar

    Jhon

    Reply Reply March 10, 2019

    Hi Ben,

    I am just wonderin’ why my adsets doesn’t show the word “Active Learning”. It only shows “Active”. I ran my ads for a week but nothing showed.

    I already duplicated my adsets into new adset on their 4th day, same interest and same budget. Does this made an effect from the Learning Phase?

    Thanks.

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply March 11, 2019

      Hi Jhon, have you run similar campaigns in the past that are optimizing for the same objective? If that’s the case then Facebook ad campaigns don’t always need to go through a formal learning phase. They will however still be going through an optimization process.

  • Avatar

    Carlos

    Reply Reply May 3, 2019

    Hi Ben, Great content; very great!

    My conversion objective is for leads.

    I’ve collected 50 leads.

    I started running 3 ads on the 2nd of May and have left the campaign for over 24 hours.

    My questions:

    1. Am I out of the learning phase?

    2. Can I now begin to optimize?

    3. If I duplicate adsets with the winning elements I can see from my ads and so on, will that disrupt the ‘optimization’ phase and/ or will that cancel out the learning phase?

    Thanks Ben!

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply May 3, 2019

      Hi Carlos, you might be out of the Facebook ads learning phase. You can tell because your ad set should say initial learning complete when you are.

      If you are out of the learning phase I would start optimizing. That may take an extra day or so.

      Duplicating ad sets will mean those new ad sets need to go through Facebook’s learning phase themselves. But the process will be faster than the first time around. I would only duplicate an ad set if I wanted to test new targeting or delivery options. If you are just adjusting ads, I would do within the ad set that is already running.

      Hopefully that helps!

      • Avatar

        Carlos

        Reply Reply May 3, 2019

        Hi Ben,

        Thank you for the speedy Gonzalez response lol.

        In my adset, I have never seen ‘learning phase’ or anything like that, so I am wondering if it has in fact gone through that process.

        I’m just confused with the whole “you can’t touch the adset” part of the optimisation process.

        Can you begin to start to do tests on the adset now that it has been through the learning phase? Or can you never touch it?

        But thank you again for the response and the content.

        And well done for winning at life!

  • Avatar

    Carlos Ebanks

    Reply Reply May 4, 2019

    Because if you could ‘never’ touch an adset how will I test new variants and discover winning elements to my adset?

    Surely not being able to touch one would leave a myriad of prior adsets (all with their budgets), essentially meaning I’ll have to pay for all those adsets too?

    Thanks Ben

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply May 6, 2019

      Hi Carlos, you can adjust ad sets. You should just wait until after the learning phase has ended.

      If your account is showing when your ad sets are and are not in the learning phase then I would just wait 3 days after it has gone live before you make adjustments.

  • Avatar

    Robert Sugden

    Reply Reply May 21, 2019

    This is an excellent read. I have been doing Facebook ads for a short time. However I NEVER get the learning phase on my ads. This is with a totally new campaign, or when I modify my ads or adset. I was not aware there was a learning phase until someone else pointed it out to me. So I am now concerned that my ad account is not correct.

    Thanks Robert

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply May 21, 2019

      Hi Robert, Thanks a lot. Facebook doesn’t always display the learning phase but it will still be happening. It’s very unlikely that your ad account is set up incorrectly. Also, watch for the learning phase at the ad set level – it doesn’t display at the campaign level.

  • Avatar

    Bob

    Reply Reply June 15, 2019

    Hi Ben,

    I run an ad that given me more than 50 leads in less than 7days but it never undergo the learning phase. When I turn it off due to system update then i turn it on again, that is the time that it undergo the learning phase. Now it never give me a lead anymore.

    Do you have any idea why I’m getting poor results now?

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply June 17, 2019

      Hi Rob, the learning phase isn’t always displayed in your Facebook ad campaigns but it’s something that nearly always take place.

      If your results have dropped off – that’s probably because your audience is too small. I would try increasing the size of your audience and see if results pick up.

  • Avatar

    Maya

    Reply Reply July 3, 2019

    Hi Ben,

    Does changing the budget reset the learning phase? I was able to read 50 view counts with a 5$ campaign, would I be able to jump the budget up to 50$ or do I need to scale slowly?

    Also, does changing the optimization event reset the learning phase? For example, reaching 50 purchases is very difficult, would I be able to reach 50 initiate checkouts with a view count campaign, then move it over to initiate checkout? I’m just not sure how to reach 50 of the more difficult events.

    • Avatar

      Ben Heath

      Reply Reply July 4, 2019

      Hi Maya, provided you increase the budget by more than 10% it does usually restart the learning phase. The campaign doesn’t ‘forget’ everything it has learnt but it does take a bit of time to adjust to the new budget level.

      I would go from $5 to about $20 first and then look to go to $50 – your CPA is likely to increase as you scale.

      Yes, changing the optimisation event does restart the learning phase. I think it’s best to stick with one. If you are generating more than 20 purchases per week – that’s what I would go with – you don’t need 50 for it to the best option.

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