Horizontal vs Vertical Scaling [The 5 Things You MUST Know To Scale Your Facebook Ads Profitably]

Jul 3, 2021

How to scale Facebook ads and whether to go with horizontal or vertical scaling method is about nothing else but growing your store. It’s about making it bigger and making more money. It can be a super simple process if you know what you’re doing and follow a few simple tricks of the trade.

WARNING: Don’t Become A Facebook Ads Gambler

According to many dictionaries, scaling means increasing or decreasing proportionally. So we can either scale up or we can scale down.

When it comes to Facebook ads, in eCommerce and online retail both horizontal as well as vertical scaling refer to increasing the ads budget proportionally meaning spending more money.

— Silvia Myers

And whilst, scaling your Facebook ads and growing your online store can be a simple process, I’ve seen lots of eCommerce stores gambling their money away purely because they haven’t followed simple logical steps. So DON’T be one of them and follow the steps below to scale your ads wisely and grow your store sustainably.

RELATED: Facebook Ads For Ecommerce: The Truth About Getting Ridiculous ROAS Even After iOS Updates [New Method]

How To Scale Facebook Ad Budget The Right Way

Before we get to the details of vertical and horizontal scaling, you need to understand WHEN is the right time to scale up and add more budget to the mix. Many eCommerce stores just add more budget, duplicate and then add some more budget without thinking about when is the best time to do it.

And once you understand WHEN is the right time to scale your Facebook ads, there really are just those two simple strategies on how to do it – the horizontal and vertical scaling methods.

But before you decide if you want to go with horizontal vs vertical scaling of your Facebook ads (and frankly you should go with both as I describe below), you need to use the steps below to assess if adding more budget to your Facebook ads is the right thing right now and you can also watch one of my recent training videos on exactly the same topic):

1. Facebook Ad Account Needs To Have Results First (On The Ad Set Level)

Before you add any more budget into the mix, make sure you’ve got some purchases from those Facebook ads first. I know, this sounds super simple and logical. But many online stores think that if they add more budget to a poor-performing Facebook ad, it will magically start working. It won’t and you’ll be gambling your money away.

Also, you need to be looking at those results on the ad set level. If you need more information on how to do this and how to evaluate your Facebook ads before you’re ready to scale, I’ll talk more about that topic in the 4 super important metrics to keep your eye on.

2. Don’t Rush With Adding More Budget

Ideally, you want to leave your Facebook ads doing the algorithm optimizing and what I also call the ‘cooking’ process first before you start pouring in more money. Otherwise, the Facebook algorithm will get confused, your results won’t be predictable and your ROAS likely not as high as it could be. In general, I suggest letting your ads be for a minimum of 72 hours before you start putting in any more budget. Since the iOS14 Facebook update, I now let my ads be for even longer.

3. Your Metrics Need To Make Sense

Get familiar with your CPM, CTR Link Click-Through % and CPC link $ first before you start scaling your ads. These metrics are a must and they need to make sense for you to start scaling because otherwise, you can easily start paying too much money for a poor performing image or a poor quality audience.

If you are not going to pay attention to any other metrics, at least watch the CPC link as it’s telling you how much you’re paying for every visitor to your website.

Essentially the CPC link $ (cost per every link click) is a result of CPM (cost per mill or how expensive is the audience you’re targeting) and CTR Link Click-Through % (how many people out of 100 clicks on your ‘shop now’ button or in plain translation how attractive and relevant is the image or a video for the audience you’re targeting). More on the Facebook Ads reporting topic here.

4. Calculate Your Break Even ROAS

ROAS (return on ad spend) is nothing else but the total return rate of a specific Facebook campaign, ad set, or ad generated in sales on your website. In simple terms, if you spent $100 on Facebook ads and got $300 back in total revenue from those ads, your ROAS will be 3 or 3x as we say in online marketing.

Those who have been in online retail for a while know that 3x ROAS sounds great when you’re starting out but that actually in most cases the eCommerce store is not making much money (if any) from a 3x ROAS because it includes not just the cost of advertising but also the cost of the product and the cost of running the business such as paying for resources, tools, and apps.

Therefore, before you even start thinking of scaling your Facebook ads, calculate your break-even ROAS first and only ever scale ads that will be making you money. You never want to be paying more money to lose money. Sounds super simple, yet you’d be surprised how many online businesses pour more money into ads that are guaranteed to lose them some more.

5. Horizontal vs Vertical Scaling Explained

Once you’ve determined that your Facebook ads are fit for scaling, it’s time to take action and this is the easy part. Essentially, you’ve got two options. You can either scale horizontally or vertically.

Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling essentially means scaling in parallel or simply put, duplicating. Whatever campaign or ad set is working, you just duplicate it. Just check where you’ve set your budget if it’s set on CBO (campaign budget optimization). Or if you have your budget set on the ad set level. If it’s on the ad set level, then make sure you scale horizontally on the ad set level. If you’re running a CBO campaign, scale on the campaign level.

Vertical Scaling

Vertical scaling means increasing up or adding more budget to an existing campaign or an ad set. Those of you guys who’ve been reading my information for longer know that I’m a bigger fan of always evaluating your campaign on the ad set level and hence adding in more budget on the ad set level. What you want to be mindful of is how much budget are you increasing and how fast are you doing it.

Depending on your original ad set level budget amount, it’s usually ok to double your budget for small amounts or until you reach appx. $50/day on an ad set level. From there onwards, you might want to start increasing in smaller increments (e.g. $10/day at a time). If however, your original ad set or a campaign was running on a higher budget from the beginning then as long as you keep the increase within 20-40% of the last performing amount your results should still be fairly predictable, and your ROAS consistent.

And whether you choose horizontal or vertical scaling for your Facebook ads, remember that the algorithm will need an extra day or two (and since the iOS14 Facebook update is even a bit longer) to re-optimize after you’ve added more budget.

Horizontal vs Vertical Scaling: Which One Is Best

I often get asked if it’s better to scale your Facebook ads horizontally or vertically. In all honesty, this is the unpredictable part where no one has a crystal ball. Hence I always suggest doing both horizontal as well as vertical scaling and then monitor which one is going to perform better. In the long run, you’ll need both to grow your store sustainably and make money in eCommerce.

Learning how to scale your Facebook ads can be quite easy if you follow a few simple steps. If you’re a visual learner and want to understand more about why these 5 steps are so important and go over how to scale, you can watch this training video.

— Silvia Myers

PS: Comment below if you have any more questions or any thoughts on this. I’d love to help.

Silvia Myers

Silvia Myers

Traffic Ninja & eCommerce Coach

Silvia is co-founder of Traffic Ninjas, teaching product makers and brand builders how to sell their incredible products online without having to discount or spend their hard-earned cash on things that don’t work.

Together with her husband and co-founder, Kristen, Traffic Ninjas equip eCommerce stores with an underground Ninja method specifically designed for small business owners, teaching them how to be profitable and sustainable and actually earn an income from selling their products online.

The Traffic Ninjas community has grown from Sydney, Australia to 35+ countries around the world with small business owners achieving amazing results.


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