The Facebook Ad Delivery and Auction System Explained

Use this lesson to:

  • Recognize how and why people see ads.
  • Identify the three key components of the Facebook ads delivery system.
  • Summarize what the learning phase does for your ads.

A system that seeks balance

When showing ads, we try to balance two things:

  • Creating value for advertisers by helping them reach and get results from people in their target audiences.
  • Providing positive, relevant experiences for people who use the Facebook Products.

Highest total value wins

To achieve this balance, we hold an auction to match the right ad to the right person at the right time. That way, advertisers reach people receptive to their ads, while people see something that interests them.

Our auctions differ from traditional auctions because the winner isn’t the ad with the highest monetary bid. All ads on Facebook compete against each other, and our system selects the ad that creates the most total value as the winner.

Generally speaking, the more relevant we predict an ad will be to someone, the less it should cost you, the advertiser, to show it to them.

Delivery system

The delivery system consists of three key components:


Please click to expand for detailed information.

The learning phase

Each time one of your ads appears after winning in the auction, the delivery system learns more about the best people to target, times of day to show the ad and placements and creatives to use. The more an ad appears, the better the delivery system optimizes the ad’s performance.

The learning phase is when the delivery system hasn’t learned enough for performance to stabilize. It occurs when you create a new ad set or make a significant edit to an existing ad or ad set. Ad sets exit the learning phase when their performance stabilizes.

In Ads Manager, the Delivery column reads Learning during the learning phase. Ad sets usually exit the learning phase after they receive approximately 50 results within 7 days. A smaller share of budget spent in the learning phase typically results in a higher share of budget spent on stable performance and a lower cost per results. For this reason, we recommend that you set up each ad set to get 50 results in 7 days. To learn more about the learning phase, see this guide.

Knowledge check

Key takeaways

  • The Facebook ads delivery system tries to balance value for advertisers and a positive, relevant experience for the people who see their ads.
  • Our ad auctions differ from traditional auctions because the ads that create the most total value win.
  • The learning phase allows the delivery system to determine what works best and provide stable ad performance.

Keep learning

Check out these resources to continue growing your skills.


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