Facebook Abandons Its Quest to Make the Campaign Budget Optimization Feature Mandatory

by | May 6, 2020

If you’ve used, known, or at least heard about Facebook’s Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) feature, chances are it’s made you (and your department) a little uneasy. Rest assured, I come delivering good news: Facebook has indefinitely rescinded its call for the features’ mandatory state and has no future plans to make it a requirement.

As an advertiser, this news alleviates arguably the most stressful threat we’ve faced in a long time.

With this development, we’re no longer required to relinquish part of our control to the social media giant.

While our industry can benefit from automation in a number of ways, this feature did not guarantee a benefit. To be honest, it would have made effective and efficient campaign management much harder.

But, how did we get here, and why now?

Let’s examine the timeline:


About CBO

Let’s start at the beginning.

To keep it brief, Campaign Budget Optimization works by distributing a campaign budget across its ad sets (i.e. audiences) to improve campaign performance in real time.

Rather than setting a specific budget for a specific ad set, advertisers set the budget at the campaign level allowing the budget to be fluid across ad sets, removing much of the advertisers ability to drive a set amount of budget each day to a specific audience.

Facebook introduced CBO in early 2017, promoting its simplicity and the ability to capitalize on value. The social media platform claims the automation features will help users arrive at a lower cost per result, improved budget use, and more time to focus on other business.

The Reality

Although this features’ implementation seems like a no-brainer, I haven’t seen spectacular performance when using it. And, I’m not alone. 

In fact, after testing this feature on dozens of campaigns, it has actually hurt my campaign’s performance, relative to the same campaign not using CBO.

In addition to the negative impact on performance, the CBO feature demands a user to alter campaign structure and make changes to the ways campaigns are maintained and optimized. In short, it’s a rather frustrating process that doesn’t yield a better end result.  

Despite these frustrations and negative impacts, Facebook still recommends using CBO for the majority of campaigns. While automation definitely has the potential to make our lives easier and campaigns perform better, CBO appears to have benefits that maximize Facebook’s bottom line over the advertisers’.

Brief Timeline: Why Now?

Although CBO has been around since early 2017, the feature really transcended into the forefront of advertisers’ scope when, at the beginning of 2019, Facebook announced it would become a required feature on all campaigns starting in September 2019. Threatened with losing a sizable portion of our budget control, this was no insignificant announcement. 

Even with changes that came from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the essence of CBO was an unprecedented existential threat to our ability to properly manage campaigns. 

Nevertheless, we started testing and researching the ways to best accommodate our campaigns, knowing the required date was impending.

But, when we were a month away from CBO becoming mandatory our Facebook representative informed us that many advertisers hadn’t yet tested the feature and, in turn, the upcoming change was causing widespread panic amongst them. 

With Q4 being the most prolific time for advertising, Facebook decided to delay the mandatory date to February 2020, knowing it would be ill-conceived to roll it out before the busiest time of the year. 

As February 2020 came and went, though, many advertisers still weren’t required to run their campaigns with the feature.

Albeit, Facebook phased the required feature for some advertisers, our company never saw this requirement come to fruition.

Nail in the Coffin

At the end of April our Facebook representative informed us that Facebook decided to nix the mandatory CBO requirement.

For those unlucky few who were phased into the requirement, they will soon be out of the feature’s grips and free to allocate budget across ad sets as they see fit. 

This is what our Facebook representative told us:

“…we recognize the importance of providing you with choice & flexibility to make the budgeting decisions that work for your needs. Our continued testing has led us to determine that there are some cases where setting budgets at the ad set level may be beneficial, such as when you value fixed delivery to ad sets rather than overall campaign performance efficiency. Thus, we are making this change to ensure that you have the flexibility to choose the right strategy in these cases.”

We were relieved, to say the least. CBO had the power to reduce our control for managing and optimizing campaigns, it put our ability to drive campaign performance at a relatively high risk. 

The threat of CBO is now officially in the grave.

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