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Guide to Facebook ad testing tools

What to look out for when choosing a testing tool for Facebook ads. Plus, a comparison of the leading third-party tools.
Susan Wenograd

Facebook ads are a great way to market your business, but in order to make the most of your ad budget, you need to test them. There are loads of tools available, but that also means the number of options can make it hard to determine which one will be right for you.  

You need to be sure that the testing solution will fit with the way you work, so before settling on which one to choose, take some time to research your options. Lucky for you, we've compiled an overview of the best tools for Facebook ad testing in this article, so you can start testing in no time.

Obstacles to running Facebook ads

If you have already been running ads on Facebook, you may have come across several challenges that are found by many people who run ads using the platform. Some of these problems are things like targeting the right audience, a lack of ways to track how users interact with your ads, and no real efficient way to test the individual creative elements within your ads.

Tracking & Targeting

This is one obstacle that has become an issue for advertisers since Apple rolled out iOS 14, which made some significant changes to the privacy options for Apple users. Users who opt out of tracking don’t have their data shared back with Facebook nearly as much, so  Facebook has access to less information about its users in general. It also means it can’t always tell who purchased, and who didn’t, which affects its ability to understand which users to target.

Statistical significance

Another common obstacle with running Facebook ads is the algorithm can occasionally determine the winner of an ad set too early on in your test. Once it does that, it will almost completely stop showing all the ads, and focus on that one more than the others in the same set. This can affect the statistical significance of your results, as it will be skewed in favor of the ad determined to be the “winner”.

The limitations of Facebook’s Ad Manager

The Facebook Ad manager is basically your home base for everything related to running ads on Facebook. It is where you can do things like:

  • Create a new ad campaign
  • Manage multiple ads at once
  • See the performance of ads

However, there can be challenges with using the Ads Manager, so you should be aware of a few things as well before starting out.

Time-consuming

One thing to note about using the Ads Manager is that the setup of your ads can be incredibly tedious and time-consuming, especially if you are looking to test your creatives and have the budget evenly distributed.

In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to put each creative version in a separate ad set, with separate budgets — a process that can take a while to do using Ads Manager if you’re testing a lot of versions. But don’t worry— there is a better and faster way of doing this, which we will explain down below.

UI is complex

Another tricky thing with using Ads Manager is many users who are new to using the platform find the user interface isn’t really that intuitive. It can be hard for newcomers to get accustomed to using Ads Manager, and the complex UI can be overwhelming at first for someone who hasn’t used it before.

Less data

The Ads Manager provides you with data on your ads — but it’s important to note that it’s only just data about the overall creative treatment of the ad, not the elements within the ad itself.

This is because when you use Facebook Ads Manager you are running A/B tests — and they just don’t provide as much detail about the ad creative as other types of testing utilized by third-party platforms.

How third-party testing tools help

When you use a third-party platform to conduct your Facebook ad testing, you gain access to a wealth of data that isn’t available to you through the Facebook Ads Manager alone. Additionally, some third-party platforms have benefits such as the ability to create your ad sets for you, rather than having to do this yourself in the Ads Manager, saving you the time and effort of completing the process manually.

Essential functions of a Facebook ad testing tool

With Facebook ad testing, various factors come into play, and they all need to be managed correctly in order to ensure that your tests produce accurate results. That’s why many people will look to use a third-party tool to automate these processes (which is why you probably are reading this article in the first place). Managing all of these things can be time-consuming and tedious to do on your own.

Creative

When testing your ad creative, you have so many options for different elements you can test. It’s important to make sure that you manage these variables correctly, and ensure the other elements of your ad remain consistent across all of your ad versions.

If you don’t know what to test in your ad, here are some ideas of creative elements you can try testing:

  • CTAs (calls to action)
  • Images of graphics
  • Headlines
  • Color of background
  • Font used
  • Size of the text

The possibilities are endless for what you can test, but we usually suggest starting out by testing only a couple of creative elements. Testing everything possible in your ad can be too much if you aren’t familiar with the process.

After you have run at least one or two tests and you know how the process works, then you can increase the number of elements in the test.

Logistical

In addition to managing the creative elements of your test, there are also a number of logistical elements that need to be correctly managed in your ad test for it to produce accurate results. Some of these include budget, audience, and test length — and managing all of these at the same time is easier said than done (unless you are using an ad testing tool like Marpipe, in which case it’s exactly as easy as it sounds).

What to look for when choosing a tool

Granularity

This is one of the fundamental features that you should look for in a Facebook ad testing tool because you want to be able to learn the specifics of what is working in your ad, and what isn't.

Many ad testing tools won't offer this type of specificity, but it will help you gain great insights into your ad creative, so prioritize a platform that has this capability.

Dynamic library of creative data

The best Facebook ad testing tools aggregate and store all test data. This arms you with information about exactly which assets historically work, and which don’t.

You can apply learnings not only to future ad creative but to every other brand touchpoint along the customer journey — billboards, audio ads, site design, packaging, etc — increasing conversion rates holistically.

Spend control

One of the major reasons to invest in a third-party ad testing tool is to apply the exact same budget against every single ad variant — something Facebook does not do. This eliminates one enormous blocker of clean, valid data giving you a clearer picture of which ads actually perform the best.

When evaluating a testing tool, look for one that puts each ad in its own ad set and divides the total test budget evenly between them.

Facebook ad testing tools: a comparison

AdEspresso by Hootsuite

Ad Espresso is a third-party ad testing tool that allows you to manage your ads for Facebook, Instagram, and Google all from the same place. They also have the option to create split tests. However, this split testing option is also available within the new native Facebook Ads Manager for free.

Also, AdEspresso caps total ad spend at $1,000 a month. (Not exactly helpful if you are trying to run many tests, as you will likely hit this limit fairly early on each month.)

For those who are looking to gain creative intelligence that will drive better results for your ads, you should probably try a different third-party tool. AdEspresso doesn’t provide you with additional data about the creative elements of your ads that can’t already be found in the Facebook Ads Manager.

AdEspresso UI
This campaign setup from within AdEspresso is fairly straightforward, although you will notice that they have a limit of 50 for the number of ad variants you can create, which is rather limiting if you want to test out several creative elements.

Madgicx

Similar to AdEspresso, Madgicx is a third-party tool that allows you to manage your Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads from one place. It is more intense than AdEspresso, and has other features including autonomous ad budget management,  AI copywriting, and AI-powered predictive audience targeting to name a few.

For someone who is looking to just test Facebook ads, this tool probably will likely be more than what you are after, and it could just end up making your ad testing process even more complicated than it was, to begin with.

Madgicx UI

Marpipe

Marpipe is a third-party ad testing tool that is made specifically for marketers looking to test their Facebook and Instagram ads and gain insights into how their ad creative drives performance.

Marpipe standout features include the ability to generate all of your ad variants for testing by automatically combining every possible combination of variable elements, saving you the time and effort to create them all manually.

GIF of Marpipe auto-generating ads for multivariate testing
Increasing the number of unique ad variant for testing is fast and easy with Marpipe's ad builder.

This means you can scale the process of building your ads easier and faster than ever before, so you can spend less time on creating your ads, and have more time for, you know, actually testing them.

Building and launching your ads via Marpipe also gives you data on every element you use within the ad creative itself.

GIF of Marpipe intelligence report
Marpipe's intelligence breaks down performance by individual creative assets, so you know which pieces of your ads are driving conversions.

How Marpipe tests ads on Facebook

Marpipe uses a method of ad testing called multivariate testing, which allows you to measure the performance of every possible combination of creative variables in your ads. You name it, Marpipe can test it.  

For example, if you wanted to test out 4 headlines, 3 images, 2 backgrounds, and 3 calls to action you can do that in no time. Here’s an example of how that multivariate test would look in Marpipe:

Example of a multivariate testing matrix using 4 headlines, 3 images, 2 background colors, and 3 calls to action to create 72 ad variants

It’s a lot of ads, and I am sure you're thinking that creating all these ad variants manually would be a nightmare. Good news: the entire process for creating your image and video ad creative is totally automated in Marpipe.

The best part about running a multivariate test like this is that you can gain detailed data about the specific creative elements of your ad that work, and then you can use this information to help you create more winning ads in the future.

I mean, if your ad tests could help you learn things like just by changing the graphic in your ad, you could reduce your ad spend by 60%, wouldn’t you want to know that?

And that kind of insight is the beauty of Marpipe.

Next steps

For more ad testing tips, check out The definitive guide to modern creative testing. And to see if testing your Facebook ad creative on Marpipe is right for your brand, book some time with our team.

How to Run a Multivariate Test

The Beginner's Guide

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How to Run a Multivariate Test
The Beginner's Guide

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