How to Perform Successful A/B Creative Testing on Facebook

Joanna Tran
June 16, 2020

As digital marketers, we’re taught to always be testing. A/B test images, copy, headlines, and so on. Testing images on Facebook can be an interesting process. Often, we find clients might have used a ton of different creatives with different copy variations without a clear result of what is working and what is not.

Here are some tips on how we A/B test Facebook ad creatives to determine what works best and what doesn’t.

Test Themes

When testing creatives in campaigns, it’s helpful to stick to general themes. One test we might start off with is lifestyle images vs product shots, to see if one or the other tends to resonate better with the audience.

Once we determine if one performs better, we’ll create more iterations based on that to test.

Future themes we might consider testing next: a combination of lifestyle and product, illustrations, text vs no text, animated vs still, video vs image, and so on.

Keep All Other Elements the Same

In order to properly isolate and test our creative variables, we keep the same headline, body copy, and description the same. We ensure all of the creatives remain the same across each ad group in the campaign.

If we have GIF or video assets available, we can test these at the same time with the images and keep the copy the same. Down the line we can see if images or video performs better overall, then tweak the copy or theme on the video/image to begin the next round of testing.

The important thing to remember here is that we want to launch all of the creatives at the same time.

Facebook’s A/B Test Tool

There’s also the option of using Facebook’s A/B Test Tool. With this, users can choose to test different variables against each other, such as images, audiences or placement.

If implemented, the budget will be split evenly between the two variables.

Clean up Your Naming Convention

Structured ad names are essential to staying organized in testing.

For Facebook ads, we follow the naming convention of “Media Type_Creative_Headline_Body-Copy_Description.” For example, an ad name may look like this: “Image_Lifestyle-5_headline1_text4_desc1.” When we pull the metrics, it’s much easier to tell what media type and combination of copy we’re evaluating.

Some additional tips:

  • If there are multiple images that are similar, at more detail to the name, or assign numbers to each image.

  • Create a library of copy variations in a Google sheet as a key for quick reference, and to keep track of which ones have been used.

Monitoring the Ads

Once the ads have gone live, make sure to check back in that the ads are delivering and running properly. It’s important not to make any unnecessary changes once it’s live, as we want to let it run for a few days so Facebook’s algorithm can learn and normalize before you collect data.

Sometimes Facebook will favor the spend toward a specific ad too early before the other ads get a good chance to deliver. If that happens, you can pause those ones for a few days to force spend on the other ads.

Once those ads have spent enough, we can determine which had the best performance. A good rule-of-thumb is to let it spend at least 2-3x the benchmark CPA before making any decisions. 

Evaluating the Data

There are plenty of metrics to review once all of the ads have had a similar amount of spend.

These are the initial metrics we evaluate: cost-per-acquisition (CPA), click-through-rate (CTR), and cost-per-click (CPC).

Cost-per-acquisition is the most important factor. If an ad has spent 2-3x the amount of the benchmark CPA for Facebook without bringing in any conversions, it’s fair to say that ad wasn’t successful for that particular campaign or ad set.