How to combat the decline of Facebook Ads with creative testing with Alex Montas of TubeBuddy

« More Insights

Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute Marketing, where we interview some of the world’s foremost growth and performance marketing leaders and distill their best knowledge into binge-worthy three-minute blocks of brilliance.

Today’s guest is Alex Montas, SVP of Marketing and Growth at Tubebuddy, an emerging tool that helps YouTube creators optimize their channels. Alex is an accomplished marketer with previous stops at companies like Verizon and Bloomberg. Like a lot of our guests, Alex is a marketing unicorn who has an agency of his own called The Remarkable Agency.

Book a 30 minute call

Blog posts are great! But sometimes, it’s just easier to talk it out.
Reserve 30 minutes with a strategist and get 30 hours worth of value.
Book a call

Alex has a lot of experience running Facebook Ads. So my question for him was, “How do you combat the decline of Facebook Ads with creative testing?”.

Show notes:

  1. Targeting high-intent audiences used to be a great way to drive results on Facebook Ads, to the tune of a 50% CPA reduction just by changing the targeting!
  2. But iOS 14 changed all that. Due to this update, audience targeting-based tactics failed to perform like before.
  3. Accelerating creative testing was essential in combating these changes. Because the creative itself was becoming a full time job, Alex hired a creative agency to help ramp up volume.
  4. Next, he grouped audiences together & focused on testing creative themes against this larger audience.
  5. The key is to test everything: your creative videos, the messaging/positioning within the same video, and the messaging outside of the ad.
  6. Long story short, ramping up creative testing worked. It lead to 3x the amount of conversions that were being generated after the iOS 14 update hit.
  7. Facebook is all about creative now. Facebook and Google want you to give them latitude to show your ads whenever they want and they like big audiences.


– You’re listening to Three Minute Marketing, where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders and distill their knowledge into actionable bite size insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– [Chris Mechanic] Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode. Today, I’m talking with Alex Montas, who’s a really interesting marketer. He’s currently SVP of marketing at TubeBuddy. Previously was at Verizon, Bloomberg and Branded Entertainment Network. Also, like a lot of our best guests. I think he’s very much a unicorn. He’s got his own little agency that he runs as well called The Remarkable Agency. Really interesting guest, excited to have you here on the show today, Alex.

– [Alex Montas] Awesome, I am super excited to be here as well. Thank you so much for having me. It’s an absolute pleasure.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yep, and TubeBuddy, if you’ve not heard of it, it is an emerging tool for creators to optimize their YouTube channels. You know, get more views, make more money and just do better work. So Alex, what I want to talk to you about today, I know that you do a lot of Facebook and ads in general, I know you’re a master of those things. iOS 14, obviously, you’ve got an innovative take on team structure and on the creative testing protocol, talk to us just a little bit about how iOS 14 impacted your guys’ campaigns and your strategies in general and then how things are doing now.

– [Alex Montas] Yeah. Well thank you for that. So I think before we go into what we’re doing with Facebook, I think it is good to talk about the before space, right? I think, for me targeting, really understanding audiences was something that I think drove a lot of results. Back in working at Bloomberg, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about a customer data platform and how we can get the audiences with the most intent. And I remember putting those audiences in place and getting stream results. We were able to kind of reduce cost of acquisition by 50%, literally just focusing on the targeting versus the creative. But now, enter this new iOS 14 or iOS 15, I’m not recalling which one at this point but as of a year ago, when I try some of those same tactics here, when I’m looking at like the audiences with the most intent, when I’m looking at, not just add to cart, but audiences that, traditionally come in and are better, what we started seeing was that that traditional way of advertising wasn’t working for us. And what we started doing, little by little, was just like all right, let’s just bunch up all the audiences together and let’s see what happens. And what we started doing was accelerating our creative testing. We hired a creative agency that had worked with me in the past. And what we started also seeing was that it became a full-time job, for me to do that, on top of all of the other activities that we had. So now we have to go back and started thinking all right, how do we do this creative testing faster? How do we start kind of like giving some strategy or some status into what is it that we’re going to test. So after much testing and much do about nothing, we decided that the first thing we’re going to test is the creative video then after we have the creator video against other creative that we think would work, then we start testing the actual messaging or positioning within the same video. And lastly, once we have that figured out, we would do that. We would look at the messaging outside of the ad. Especially on Facebook, you do have the ability to do that. And what we started seeing is that we started seeing results by starting doing that testing. Initially, it was very small amounts, but little by little we saw, wow!, we can increase Raw ads by three times the amount and now, what we’ve gotten into is that adding a mixture of testimonial, adding a mixture of all of this, to our testing capability, we’ve been able to increase output, especially for bottom of the funnel. We’re seeing much better results to the tune of three times the amount of conversions that we were seeing after everything happened on iOS 15.

– [Chris Mechanic] Wow. That’s amazing. Well, I have a lot more questions for you. I want to stay true to the Three Minute nature and cut this off. However, we do have a another few minutes. So if you’re listening to this and you like it, stay tuned, Alex and I will continue talking. I have literally a million questions for you. Alex, tell everybody where they can learn more about you, TubeBuddy, your agency. You got a lot of stuff going on, give us your plug.

– [Alex Montas] Yeah. So my focus at the moment is definitely TubeBuddy. And that’s where I spend most of my time but I’m on Twitter @AlexMontas. I’m on LinkedIn @almontas or at almontas. And yeah, I try to ride on both of those mediums as much as possible. And yeah, I do talk about advertising. I do talk about the difference between big and small companies. But again, things are coming to ahead because creative and brand, it was something that I assumed it’s something that I would do with much bigger companies and TubeBuddy was going to be more of a direct effort.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah.

– [Alex Montas] And guess what? All of a sudden everything is converging. And it doesn’t matter how small, how big you are, the foundations have to be in place when it comes to marketing in order for you to be successful.

– [Chris Mechanic] Totally. Well, stick around. We’re going to continue talking Facebook, we’re going to talk creative, we’re going to talk testing in iOS 14 and we’ll see you on the other side. Thank you, Alex. I liked really a lot what you said at the end. It’s like, you, if I might translate, it sounded like, hey, you started TubeBuddy, you were like the performance marketing guy.

– [Alex Montas] Correct.

– [Chris Mechanic] But then all of a sudden, you became creative. Because it’s all about creative on Facebook now. Like all about it. And we’re seeing that same thing and doing that same thing cause Facebook and Google want you to give them latitude to show your ads whenever. Translated meaning, they like big audiences because it gives them a lot of options, right? And ways to spend the money.

– [Alex Montas] Yeah. But I hated that. I hated the whole bunching up audiences. I loved knowing like, okay, this is an entry or a lookalike, this is a retargeting of my home patient pricing, And this is a retargeting of my checkup, and this is a win back campaign. And let me tell you, I did that at Bloomberg, I did that with clients, this exact same setup to Power 5 that worked really great until it didn’t.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah.

– [Alex Montas] And then now we’re like, we’re going to bunch up all these audiences together and now we’re going to do a Power 5 creative, in a way, and take a lot of that. And honestly, that has taken some understanding. Like, we have to, on my end, you’re right, I was hired to be a VP of growth, and within VP of growth, focus on acquisition, more even so than churn and all of that. But now we have Facebook, in it’s specifically, it’s is become something where, it’s tough to say, even at an ad set level, which is the creative specifically that’s working. So then I had to figure out on a campaign level, okay, I’m setting up this creative, both of this creative, both of this creative, both of this creative and try to ascertain what is working or not working. And it’s been a labor of love because I don’t think, honestly, none of us has really figured it out. But we’re all kind of arriving at the same place, where it’s like, bunch up your audiences and then go on creative. Is that closer to what you’re seeing as well?

– [Chris Mechanic] Pretty much, yeah. And then we use the creative cause what happens is, the way that I’ve visualized the Facebook world, is you start with this big audience you put an ad in your campaign. Facebook starts showing that ad and whoever responds to that ad, it’ll go then try to find more, even if you don’t do a look a like or even if you don’t do retargeting Facebook will automatically retarget to the users that interact and will go out and find a cluster of individuals that look like that, right?

– [Alex Montas] Mm-hmm. So if you put out an ad like hey creator, you can make more with TubeBuddy, that’s going to go out and attract creators, right? But say you have a different market segment, you could use that same audience but just make your ad polarizing enough that it would not appeal to the creator, right? It would appeal to say, you want to sell to agencies like me, as like a spy tool. I don’t really know that much about TubeBuddy, to be frank. But say that there’s some other application or some other industry segment you can create an ad in that same campaign that’s polarizing enough to pull that new audience in and in doing so you make Facebook work again, like learning mode, right?

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah. That’s what Facebook is doing, it’s going to find that cluster. It’s like we have campaigns that spend in the high six or seven figures a month that’s similar to yours are real simple campaign structures. Like you would think back in the days, if you’re spending a million a month on Facebook, like you would have dozens of different campaigns and hundreds of ad sets and maybe even multiple different accounts. But we’re seeing this consolidation play work. And then basically offer number one is going to go out and compel a certain group of users but you’ll see the performance start to burn out. And then you almost need to introduce a new offer, it seems, to make Facebook go and find a new cluster within that very large audience.

– [Alex Montas] Yeah. Well, and the thing is, I’m into SaaS and right at any given point, I have to educate A, to get that lead, but then B, after they are using the product, how do we get them and how do we educate them to actually then make a conversion? This is where influencers and testimonials and things have become a lot more important because, again from a team structure, now I have to have somebody actually reaching out to this people or actually reaching out to them. Because again, maybe given the way that my product works, it’s extremely important to kind of have other people that have used the product and other people kind of talking about how successful they’ve been. And that has created an entire new line of work that I didn’t have just a year ago. Before we actually start about Facebook, now I have to think about rates, about how we’re going to go and negotiate. So that’s the one thing. And then we also necessitated somebody that has done this at scale and can do it fast. So then now we just hired a VP of brand, who’s amazing. But the knowledge that he brings, it’s just like, okay, I know what I’ve tried in the past, and then I also know that when it stops working on Facebook what we’ve done is, what we’ve seen, is that we can have a very similar message but somebody else may need to deliver it. So we needed to create a script for this testimonials to take place. And once that testimonial stops working, now I need to get another person to say something is slightly similar but the algorithm likes that a little bit better. For me to change the message a lot more than it was changed before. And I’m not sure why that is happening, right? Because theoretically it’s like, I’m not seeing mobile. That’s what happened on Facebook. Facebook is not seeing iOS 15 but somehow that’s the way the algorithm it’s analyzing a lot of this stuff.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah. It’s bizarre, man. And no matter how much you do it, especially on Facebook, it’s just like so unpredictable. Like no matter how… like we have techniques that work in account A that don’t work the same way in account B. Like they should. Like all the other variables are like it could be the same space, similar offer, but it’s just, it’s crazy. I have a bunch more questions for you. I want to be sensitive to your time. Come back again, would you? And we’ll talk.

– [Alex Montas] Happy to do that. Happy to do that. Hope this was good for your listeners. Thank you so much.

– [Chris Mechanic] Absolutely, man. Absolutely. It was good. And I literally have a hundred questions about dynamic, creative and lead ads. I’m curious if you guys got something on Messenger or any of the other formats. But anyway, I will let you go for now.

– [Alex Montas] Thank you so much for your time.

– [Chris Mechanic] But I’ll be back in touch.

– [Alex Montas] Let’s stay in touch, thank you.

– [Chris Mechanic] Absolutely. Yeah. And check out, especially if you’re a creator and also and Alex Montas on Twitter. Thank you.

– [Alex Montas] Awesome. Thank you, have a good day.

– [Chris Mechanic] We’ll talk soon. Bye.

– [Alex Montas] Bye. Bye.

Alex Montas

Alex Montas SVP of Marketing and Growth

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

Podcasts Info:

Most newsletters suck...

So while we technically have to call this a daily newsletter so people know what it is, it's anything but.

You won't find any 'industry standards' or 'guru best practices' here - only the real stuff that actually moves the needle.

You may be interested in:

How successful marketing leaders hire and retain A+ talent with Christian Campagnuolo

How successful marketing leaders hire and retain A+ talent with Christian Campagnuolo

Today on 3-Minute Marketing, I’ve got badass CMO Christian Campagnuolo (CMO at Revature) back for round 2! You can check out my first episode with Christian here. This time, Christian shared his thoughts on a big topic for marketing leaders right now: staffing and retention. Specifically, “How do you find and keep great marketers, especially...
Read this