Facebook Ads Learning Phase Explained 2021 (How Important Is It?)

How important is it to leave the Facebook ads in the Learning Phase? I spent hours analyzing hundreds of my own ad sets so that I could answer that question for you. I calculated sales and profits for Active and Limited Learning ads. And what I learned will surprise you quite a bit! 

Ads that were in Limited Learning didn’t perform as well as ads that went Active. But many ads which didn’t get enough conversions to become Active were still profitable and valuable. Facebook Learning can help your campaign, but you can still make conversions and sales from Limited Learning bids. 

If you want to learn more about the Facebook Ads Learning Phase, and how Facebook decides which ads are Active and Learning, read on. I’ll show you when Facebook Learning will work for you and when you’ll do just fine without it.

What Is the Facebook Ads Learning Phase?

Every time somebody interacts with your ad, Facebook’s ads delivery system takes note of their characteristics and learns more about the people most likely to respond. The more often your ad is shown, the better the system can optimize your performance. 

When the delivery system is still in the Learning Phase, it is still exploring the best way to deliver your ad set. Your ad’s performance may be inconsistent, and you’ll be paying a higher cost-per-action. Until it has enough data to make decisions, Facebook’s ad delivery system works by trial and error. 

The Learning Phase and Optimization Events

New campaigns start in the Learning Phase. You have to choose the optimization events you’re seeking. Some options include:

  • Click on link 
  • Download app
  • Get leads 
  • Item in cart
  • Purchase

With each optimization event, the Facebook ads delivery system gets a better idea of your target audience and shows ads to people who are more likely to react. But an ad set has to receive at least 50 optimization events in a week, or the delivery system won’t be able to gather enough data to make decisions.

What Does It Cost To Meet My Facebook Learning Optimization Goal?

If your optimization goal is ‘clicks,’ things are pretty straightforward. Getting 50 clicks isn’t hard at all. It is more challenging if you’re optimizing based on conversions (purchases). Purchase ads can cost as much as $100 a purchase. 

So, for example, if you’re spending $50 per purchase, you’ll need to spend at least $2,500 a week to get those 50 optimization events! And if you’re running four ad sets in the campaign, you need to budget $10,000 to meet the Facebook Learning requirement. That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a batch of brand new ads!

Why Are My Ads Learning Limited?

Learning Limited means that your ad set isn’t getting enough optimization events to exit the Learning Phase. The ad delivery system can’t optimize its performance. Here are some of the factors that can cause an ad set to become Learning Limited:

  • Small audience size 
  • Low bid or cost control 
  • Low budget
  • An infrequent optimization event
  • High auction overlap

Should I Optimize Facebook Learning for Link Clicks? 

Many people who are spending $500 or $1000 per week on Facebook advertising won’t get 50 purchases in a week. Would they be better off optimizing for Link Clicks or Add to Cart? You can usually get click ads for $1 per click or less.  

For $50, their ad set could be optimized by Facebook Learning. But the Facebook ads delivery system will be targeting people who are likely to click on their link or add something to their cart, not people who are most likely to make a purchase. 

Link click ad sets bring you people to the top of the sales funnel. They may have some interest in what you’re selling, but these people aren’t committed buyers. Ad campaigns optimized for purchases target people near the bottom of the sales funnel. These people want your product and are looking for someone who is selling it. 

When I am aiming for sales, I have had better luck optimizing for purchases, even if the ad set goes to Learning Limited. An ad targeted toward 20, 30, or 40 purchases will usually perform better than one targeted to link clicks or add to cart

Do Active Ads Do Better Than Learning Limited Ads?

When I looked through my data on the performance of Active vs. Learning Limited ads, I found that ads that exited the Learning Phase and went Active performed 14.89% better than ads that remained in Limited Learning.

But that’s not the entire story. 

As I examined the data, I realized that our underperforming ads weren’t getting sales. And so they got paused or landed in the Learning Limited column. I am not sure that ending up in Limited Learning causes ads to underperform or if underperforming ads are more likely to end up Limited Learning. 

Are Facebook Active Ads Worth the Price?

If you have a product you‘re trying to sell and want to get out of the Learning Phase, it’s worth trying to get out of the Learning Phase. But if the ad that you budgeted for $50 a purchase isn’t doing so well and it’s costing you $100 a purchase, you’re probably going to pause the ad or turn it off.  

Anytime you launch an ad set, as more people take the desired action, Facebook will get better at finding other people who will likely take that action. So I do recommend trying to put a decent amount of money into each ad set. But I don’t know if it is essential to get out of the Learning Phase after doing all this research.

For example, my manual bids have generally ended up in Learning Limited because manual bids have a cap set on the exact amount of money you spend. But the performance on my manual bids has always been solid, and they’re still an important part of my strategy.

If you want to learn more about manual and automatic bids, I did a full tutorial on them: 

Make sure you put some money towards your ad set and generate a decent number of conversions in that first week. But I believe Learning Phase is highly overrated. You don’t have to worry too much if you move to Learning Limited instead of Active.  

If you want to be a Facebook Ads expert, I put together a complete two-hour training program that puts you through copywriting, setting up your campaigns, the structure, and everything you need to know. You can watch it here.

You can also sign up for my 18-day Facebook Ads email course where you get a new lesson every single day. Check those out if you want to learn more. 


If you’re selling high-priced items, getting fifty sales can be challenging. But you’ll do better focusing on people who are serious about buying these items. Car dealers distinguish between serious buyers and “tire-kickers” who waste time but never commit to the purchase. Fifty tire-kickers will bring you less sales revenue than one committed buyer. 

Facebook Learning can improve your ad set’s performance. But your Limited Learning ads may still play an essential role in your advertising campaigns. Don’t change your campaign objectives to get your ads out of the Learning Phase. Instead, determine how well your ads are meeting your goals.