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Dynamic ads on Meta: Should I have one or multiple catalogs?

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You may know them as dynamic product ads (DPAs), product feed-based ads, or Meta Advantage+ catalog ads. 

Different names for the same ad format, these ads run off a product feed and show your shoppers the most relevant products from your store.

Learn more about dynamic ad formats, their challenges, and how to get the most from them in the ultimate guide to dynamic ads 2024.

How do Advantage+ Catalog ads actually work? 

Before we jump into the question of how many catalogs you need, let’s take a quick look at how your Adv+ catalog ads work.

To run these ads, you’ll need a product feed that gives Meta a list of all your products in your store, along with details like image, title, price, inventory, variant information, etc. 

The more optimized your feed, the better your ads’ performance.Here are three mistakes to avoid if you’re running dynamic ads on Meta.

Using this feed, Meta creates a catalog of all your products, from which it decides which product from your catalog a shopper is most likely to buy and targets them with that product.

But how does it do that?

Let’s take an example. Let’s say you have a store that sells men’s shirts. Dan from Florida viewed your “Printed Floral Shirt”. Meta will throw this event in your pixel and the product ID for this product will be matched against all the product IDs in your catalog and recorded.

An infographic depicting how Meta matches events on your website to products in your catalog
Meta matches events on your website to products in your catalog

Over time, Meta will collect this data from tens of thousands of shoppers. It will know for example, that 500 shoppers viewed this product, of which 60 people added it to their carts, of which 10 bought it.

Now, Meta does this for all your events, matching each event to a specific product ID in your catalog.

As a result, not only does Meta know the top-clicked and most purchased products in your catalog, but it also aggregates this information into patterns against shoppers’ buying histories and demographics to arrive at certain ‘learnings’.

For example, it may learn that men like Dan, between 45-60 years of age from the East Coast tended to click on the ‘Floral Printed Shirt’, whereas men between 25-35 years of age from the West Coast tended to prefer the ‘Solid Linen Shirt’. 

Here’s a simple illustration to show you how this works:

Infograhic showing how Meta stores all event data against your catalog to target the right product to the right shopper
Meta stores all event data against your catalog to target the right product to the right shopper

Meta constantly does this for hundreds of products in your store, for different buyers, and automatically optimizes your dynamic ads to show your shoppers the correct product from your catalog.

This is the single greatest benefit of having a single catalog. The longer you run your catalogs, the more Meta is able to optimize by matching events on your website with products in your catalog. This incrementally improves Meta’s learnings on that catalog — allowing its algorithm to match the correct product with the correct shopper.

BONUS: In addition to matching events from your website to products in your catalog, Meta also directly learns from your catalog. It does this in two places — in your FB/IG shops and in your dynamic ads themselves (which products out of the 6-8 shown in an ad are users clicking on/engaging with).

However, if you create a new catalog, Meta has to start the learning process all over again. 

This is whyFacebook strongly recommends using just one catalog for all your advertising requirements (ads and Shop).

What are the benefits of using a single catalog on Meta? 

As the illustration(s) above shows,  the more you spend on the same catalog, the more data it collects. Meta consolidates these learnings, incrementally improving its ability to target the right shopper with the right product. It is this incrementality that makes a single catalog a powerful tool in the hands of advertisers. 

Conversely, if you make a new product feed — that catalog will have none of the learnings from your past events. This will negatively impact the performance of ads with the new catalog.

Here are the advantages of using a single catalog as listed by Meta: 

  1. Consolidated learnings allow Meta to provide much more targeted product recommendations to improve the performance of your ads.
  2. A single catalog improves your event-match rate, allowing Meta to more reliably match content IDs with events fired on your website for better targeting.
  3. Relatedly, a single catalog helps keep your items' Meta pixel event data from being split, expanding your audience size.
  4. When a catalog has been used for advertising, Meta has data on it. This data can help advertisers scale more profitably than with a new catalog. Read more.

Additionally, using the same catalog in your FB/IG shops helps further consolidate your learnings. It has the additional benefit of allowing you to tag products on Instagram. 

The pros of a single catalog are clear. But are there cons? And how can you work around them? 

Are there limitations when using a single catalog on Meta? 

While using a single catalog is the correct approach to running dynamic or Advantage+ catalog ads, there can be some limitations. 

1. All catalog ads look the same: By default, most stores’ catalog ads show plain product images on white backgrounds. This is extremely limiting as all brands’ ads end up looking the same. You can get around this limitation by designing your catalog ads with Socioh or any similar app. Here's how you use design to optimize your catalog ads on Meta.

2. You cannot highlight different messaging on different products: If you can only run a single catalog ad, how do you highlight different messaging for different collections?

Let’s take an example; you run an apparel store and are running Buy 1 Get 1 on t-shirts, but a 30% off offer on dresses. If you cannot run different catalogs, how would you highlight both of your offers? Meta’s frames and stickers provide some relief, but these are extremely limiting in terms of design – and they do not work on Instagram!

But Socioh’s category-based automation allows you to highlight different messaging/designs for different collections. You can then create and advertise product sets on Meta when setting up your ads.

TIP: This extremely profitable ad format on Meta uses product sets along with intro cards. Test it now!

3. How do you test creative in your catalog ads with a single catalog? One of the biggest challenges with using a single catalog on Meta is that you cannot A/B test your catalog creative(s). 

And even if you could design your feed using a tool to customize your product feed, how do you test design 1 versus design 2 without a second catalog or splitting your budget and learnings? 

Socioh’s A/B testing tool provides a solution that helps you optimize your ROAS as you test and iterate on design. All without losing catalog or campaign learnings! 

Interested in learning more about testing creatives for live catalog ads? Book a no-obligation demo.

Creating a high-quality catalog for advertising on Meta

How do you get the most sales out of your single, full-shop catalog?

There are two main considerations when running catalog ads:

1. How do you test the best design/messaging for your catalog? AND

2. How should you set it up so you keep consolidating the catalog’s learnings? 

As mentioned earlier in this blog, one of the biggest limitations of Meta’s catalog ads is the inability to test creative with catalog ads. 

While you can use Socioh’s Branded Catalogs to A/B test your catalog creatives, what if you already have a catalog with learnings? 

Can you update your Meta catalog creative without losing learnings?

The short answer is yes!

Most stores we work with already have a Shopify Product catalog, or a custom catalog using a feed such as one from DataFeedWatch, Flexify, etc., etc. 

And, if you have already run ads on it, you’ll want to keep those learnings and not set up a new catalog. 

We recommend adding a supplementary feed to your catalog to replace only your product images with Socioh’s. This keeps your catalog + campaign learnings intact, while allowing you to test and iterate on design.

TIP: Adding a supplementary feed allows you to test your catalog creatives while retaining your learnings in YOUR catalog. 

Interested in learning more about the ideal set up for your catalog ads? Book a no-obligation demo.

is a digital advertising platform for eCommerce brands. Our Branded Catalog is the industry leader in dynamic catalog advertising and product feeds.

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