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January 11, 2018

Dynamic creative is a new Facebook feature that leans on algorithms to create complete ads out of individual creative components. Advertisers supply text, headlines, descriptions, CTAs and images or videos to be combined into high-performing ads. This feature, if successful, will eliminate much of the heavy lifting of creative optimization, and has the potential to provide valuable learnings faster than ever before.

In the past few months since it’s September 2017 rollout, we’ve tested dynamic creative with clients across verticals to see if the algorithm can outperform good old-fashioned manual creative testing and optimization.

First, how does dynamic creative work?
Facebook’s dynamic creative tool (sometimes referred to as dynamic creative optimization or DCO) promises to find the best ad creative combinations by running different combinations of ad components across audiences. From the start, you should know that there are limitations…

  • The only objectives that DCO supports as of now are conversions, app installs, and traffic.
  • The only creative formats that are supported are either single images or single videos (images and videos cannot yet be mixed and matched).
  • As of December 2017, dynamic creative ad sets run on all placements except Instagram Stories, Instant Articles, and Messenger.
  • Also, keep in mind that Facebook recommends using broad audiences when testing dynamic creative and that each campaign has to be by itself with an audience.

When setting up dynamic creative ads, you have 30 total asset slots, distributed across components. We won’t dig into the nitty-gritty of setting it up, but Jon Loomer has you covered.

What we really want to know is whether or not they work, and in what circumstances a feature like this should and shouldn’t be used. Although this feature is in its early stages, we’ve seen some definitive results and best practices to share…

 

DO Use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative to Save Time and Effort

Before we get into dynamic creative performance and results, here’s a no-brainer. Without argument, dynamic creative ads can save you time–one of an advertiser’s most valuable resources. Do the math. Out of 5 variations for titles, text, descriptions, and CTAs, and 10 available slots for images *or* video, DCO can automatically create 6,250 different complete ads out of your components.

This advancement is groundbreaking for in-house teams and agencies alike, surfacing learnings more quickly and giving advertisers more time to focus more on everything else that goes into building and managing a kick-ass user acquisition program. Things like testing different audiences, running cohort analyses, implementing incrementality tests, and developing high-quality creative assets like video (talk about time-consuming).

This use-case alone may be reason enough to utilize DCO. Although some constraints exist (placement, objective, etc.), you can bet that Facebook will be changing that in the very near future.

 

DO Use Dynamic Creative Instead of A/B Testing Assets

This might seem obvious, but dynamic creative ads are great to test a lot of individual creative asset components (up to 30), and learn quickly about what assets are the best performing. Never before have advertisers had these learnings at their disposal for such little effort.

By optimizing for the best performing combinations, DCO helps you learn quickly–we’ve seen learnings start to surface in 2-3 days. Because of its’ time-saving quality and machine learning power, we’ve found that DCO can help ad sets quickly spend while maintaining or even improving costs. Through this tactic, we’ve been able to get insight into top-performing creative that when implemented in other campaigns, helped us improve costs.

When launching a DCO campaign, we recommend using with all of the allotted slots. We’ve also seen success in supplying both tried-and-true existing assets alongside brand new creative, giving us a learning boost and setting benchmarks. After your campaigns have started serving ad combinations long enough, usually 2-3 days, you can dig into the results. To see how each asset is performing, click “Breakdown” at the top right of your ad reports, select “By Asset,” and show any asset category.

 

DO Use Dynamic Creative to Match the Right Creative to the Right Audiences

Another major benefit of dynamic creative ads is to serve more personalized ads to different audiences. In concept, Facebook’s algorithm is able to decide which ads are most relevant to different audiences, and serve them more frequently. We’ve found that it’s best to group ads within cohesive concepts to deliver the best performance.

Facebook made a nice video to explain this:

Remember that this tool is not designed to test different offerings or products, but test different messaging and imagery for the same offerings and products within different user groups. Dynamic creative IS different from dynamic ads (yes, the names are very confusing) which are designed to retarget users with personalized products.

In addition to dynamically serving ads, advertisers can also get insight into those results. To determine how your ad creative resonates with different demographic groups, click “Breakdown” at the top right of your ad reports and select “By Delivery” to choose a variable, and then “By Asset” to choose your creative categories.

 

DO Use Dynamic Creative Optimization for Retargeting

Another use case for Facebook’s dynamic creative tool that we’ve seen early success with is with retargeting. Re-engaging users that have already shown some intent with dynamic creative is a great way to more accurately test high-performing ad combinations. One client found 51% lower CPAs with retargeting via dynamic creative ads over standard retargeting campaigns.
While this tactic will only really work if you have a large enough audience to retarget, it’s worth a try with a modest budget. This tactic is a good way to efficiently and quickly scale impressions for retargeting campaigns.

 

DON’T Bank on Dynamic Creative Optimization for Long-Term Success

Now for the bad news… In our early testing, we haven’t seen sustainable, long-term success with dynamic creative campaigns. As we expect with any new Facebook feature, the lack of control and consistency in the early days often outweighs the potential benefits. While dynamic creative ads may be a great learning tool to test and transition new imagery, ad copy, and calls to action, we don’t recommend leaning on the tool as a creative solution for large-scale ongoing campaigns.

To recap, here are our recommendations on how to use dynamic creative for optimal performance…

  • When launching DCO campaigns to test new creative assets, group similar concepts and test iterations within individual campaigns.
  • Use audience learnings to see what ad components resonated with different demographic groups.
  • Start with a small budget and then transfer best performing ads to other campaigns with regular audiences based on audience and creative learnings.
  • As with any tool that depends on machine learning, make sure you give your dynamic creative ads ample time–at least 2-3 days–before making any changes.


We’re excited to see the feature develop as the algorithm gets stronger and more functionality becomes available.


The implications of algorithm-dependent tools like this, along with Google UAC, are huge. Dynamic creative is changing the Facebook advertising game, and we look forward to seeing how it plays out.

For now, we’re still bound to manual optimization to drive the best bottom-of-the-funnel performance and costs for our clients. Dynamic creative is, however, helpful tool to spin up high-converting campaigns, test new creative assets, and save a heck of a lot of time.

Interested in learning more about how we approach Facebook advertising? Check out our Facebook advertising services.

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We design and execute highly scalable paid social programs for world-class brands in a mobile-first world.

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