How long should a Facebook Ad run for?

How long should a Facebook Ad run for?


How long should a Facebook Ad run for? I do have an answer to this, but first I’d like to explain what goes on behind the scenes with a Facebook ad. There’s a lot that happens that influences this decision - you’ll be surprised!

What exactly happens when you boost a post or publish a Facebook ad?

The first thing to happen when you post a Facebook ad, or boost an existing post, is that it goes into the dreaded review stage.  This can last from one hour up to 24 hours, or even more.

Once it has been reviewed, it becomes active. Facebook will then get stuck in. It takes time for Facebook to identify your objective, who it needs to target the ad to, where these people are and most importantly who is going to take action.

Facebook will be on your side and will want your ad to do well, so I guess we can let it off for taking its time over this necessary step. It will wait to see who responds to your ad so it can refine its targeting and test the audience. Clever stuff isn’t it?

Why Facebook ads need a lot of impressions

To understand more about how long a Facebook Ad should run for, you need to understand about how it gathers signs of results. Impressions are when your ad is delivered to different people on Facebook or Instagram, not ‘seen’ – as this is classed as Reach. I know some ad strategists who say that you need to wait until your ad has around 1,000 impressions before seeing a marker of the results – companies with big budgets can achieve this is no time.

The logic behind this is that impressions gives Facebook a better chance of analysing how people have reacted to the ad. So Facebook actually recommends getting up to 8,000 impressions before it has got a good idea of what the results are.

Depending on your budget this could take up to a week to achieve.

So to work out how long to let a Facebook ad run for, let’s do some planning based on that timescale (more realistic for independent businesses and SMEs):

  • Establish how long you want your promotion to run for - is there a specific date for your promotion? Is the ad for a specific event? Work back from that.
  • Factor in the time needed for Facebook to review the ad (48 hours to be safe)
  • Add in time to test, and possibly retest the audience – this could be another week for instance if the audience bombs initially and you need to try a new one.
  • Expect it to take up to a week to gather impressions.
  • When your ad achieves the expected level of impressions, Facebook ramps up the momentum needed to get you some great results. This can take up to another week.

=     Three weeks have passed already!

Don’t panic - give Facebook ads a chance

I’m afraid patience matters when it comes to Facebook ads. It’s not as simple as letting a Facebook ad run for a couple of days and hoping that everyone who needs to see it does so within hours of you clicking that publish button.

To see the results you want and deserve, it takes a little time.

For the best results you need to trust Facebook and its algorithms – it will work out the type of people who are responding, test the new audience, refine its process and then pick up the results you need. It just needs a bit of time.

So, what’s the answer to how long should you let a Facebook ad run for?

Ok, here is my answer. For ads with a specific promotion date (events, 5-day challenges, launches etc) I would recommend running an ad for around three weeks prior to the date to warm up audiences and give Facebook the time it needs. For evergreen ads, which run continually, I’d recommend three months for optimum results.

If you’ve any more questions or need support with your next Facebook or Instagram ad campaign please get in touch.

Posted in Facebook Ads, Organisation.