Facebook's algorithm is a machine learning system that is constantly improving itself as it receives more data. Our Facebook rep told us that over the past few weeks (late August/early September), adjustments were made to their advertising delivery system to reflect the true demand of their ad auction.

Most accounts should see minimal changes in terms of their cost per action, but marketers who use mobile app installs or dynamic product ads may experience lower delivery of their ads or notice an increase in the cost per action.

If you have noticed your Facebook ad costs rise in the last few weeks, it may not be down to algorithm changes but the fact that Q4 is here, which is the time of year that many businesses spend the lion’s share of their marketing budget, which in turn increases costs across the board.

Q4 or not, an increase in the cost per action or ads not delivering as much as they should is common throughout the year. In this article I’ll provide a few quick tips to help you remedy both.

How to fix under-delivery or increased CPA

If your account has increased its CPA, or your ads are under-delivering, here are a few tips to try out.

Before I talk more about the tips to use to troubleshoot, note that a rise in CPA or ads under-delivering is usually down to your campaigns losing in the Facebook ad auction or limited audience targeting, and not a random bug or flag on your account.

If your CPA has increased – You can adjust your bid to reflect the new CPA cost and this will increase the delivery of your ads and find you more actions. However, if your CPA has reached a level which makes it unprofitable to run Facebook ads, expand your audience reach using lookalikes and interest targeting.

The bigger the audience size, the more chance Facebook has of finding you new customers at a lower cost.

Updating your creatives, offers, and messaging can also lower your CPA. For example, if you’ve used the same creatives and messages for months on end without changing your audience, they’ll be fatigued with it all and no longer engage with your ads.

This can cause an increase in CPA.

Marketing is a dynamic game. Your funnel that was working six months ago now may be out of date and require more steps or adjustments, which means you’ll need to take a good look at your funnel and find out where the bottlenecks are.

If your delivery has dropped – First review your audience size to ensure there is enough people in each audience to get full delivery, and check that auction overlap is minimal between other campaigns.

Next up, see if your ads violate Facebook’s 20% text rule as that can lead to under-delivery of ads. Any ads that contain too much text may increase costs and lower delivery.

Using manual bidding (target cost) can lead to under-delivery if your bid is too low. If this is a common theme, I suggest starting with automatic bidding with no cap on the bids to see what your cost per action is and refine your bidding from there.

When choosing automatic bidding, Facebook optimizes your campaign for delivery, giving you the best chance to reach users for the lowest possible price.

While less likely if your target cost is way too high (10-15x CPA), Facebook may find it hard to get you results at that cost because the audience size is so small; in which case, lowering your target cost may improve delivery (although very rare).

Are you impacted by Facebook’s ad delivery changes?

When Facebook's ad costs increase it can be for any number of reasons, from updates in their algorithm, to seasonal holidays, to audiences becoming bored of your creatives, to more advertisers targeting similar audiences.

Rather than shaking a fist at Mark Zuckerberg, you need to get on with it and make the necessary changes for your ads to get back on track. I’ve ran ads on Facebook for several years, and seeing ads under-deliver or the CPA reaching undesirable levels is common. With the right adjustments, getting them back to normal, or even lower, is possible with the right strategies.