Learn how to choose the Facebook Ads that are the perfect fit for your digital marketing goals.
Here, you’ll find:
- Different Facebook ad types you can select for your ad campaigns
- How to choose the best objective for your Facebook Ads campaign
- Tips for creating the best ads to reach your desired Facebook audience
- Expert ways to optimize your Facebook Ads
What’s the best way to get your brand in front of paying customers? To place ads wherever they like to hang out. And right now, millions of people are scrolling through social media platforms every day (or more like every hour).
But which platforms should you advertise on?
We don’t discriminate — we say go wherever your audience is. And odds are, your audience is on Facebook, especially since it’s still the No. 1 used social media platform as of 2023.
The next step is determining which Facebook ad types suit your business goals and audience best. Keep reading and we’ll help you figure that out.
What are Facebook Ads?
Facebook Ads are digital advertisements that appear on the Facebook platform. You can use them to promote products, services, events, or content.
Different types of Facebook Ads are available, including Image Ads, Video Ads, Carousel Ads, Story Ads, and Lead Generation Forms. Each ad type is designed to reach different goals and appeal to various audiences.
Facebook Ad types to run in your campaigns
Deciding the best Facebook ad formats to include in your campaigns comes down to:
- Who you’re targeting
- What objectives you’re trying to reach.
Let’s begin by exploring the different ad types you can use.
Facebook image ads appear in the feed, so selecting an image that’s a scroll-stopper is imperative. Your ad will feature one image, so you have one opportunity to get it right. Above the image is a headline, which is another chance to capture your audience’s attention.
Here’s an example of one from Audi Ireland:
You have two options for advertising with Facebook image ads: you can either use boosted posts or create dedicated ads. Boosted posts are social media posts you can pay to have visibility increased. It will have “Sponsored” at the top of your post like the following:
These types of ads are perfect for building brand awareness and increasing traffic to your website. If the ads are highly targeted and touch on your customers’ pain points, you may even see a boost in sales.
The only thing better than a picture is video, but only if you need to show something that an image can’t. You want to save your customers’ time, so keep it short and sweet.
Over 1.25 billion people watch videos on Facebook monthly, so it’s an excellent opportunity to capture their interest in your product or service. Aim for something funny or informational to engage prospects.
Here’s an example of a Facebook video ad:
Facebook offers several video ad formats, including in-stream and in-feed ads:
- In-feed video ads appear in a user’s news feed and are typically more engaging and interactive than in-stream video ads, since they appear alongside other content and are more likely to be seen. The upside is they can run for up to 250 minutes (but be mindful of short attention spans).
- In-stream video ads appear before, during, or after a video a user’s watching and have the advantage of being more targeted. You can tailor your ads to the content of the video. These ads can only run for up to 15 seconds, which gives you a fun challenge to get your point across fast before losing folk’s attention.
Both video ad types can be effective, depending on your business goals. If you want to expand your reach, brand awareness, and post engagement, then video ads are worth it.
Sometimes, you have a lot to showcase, and a collage photo ad just won’t do. In this scenario, a carousel ad is ideal. You can use this to demonstrate a series of steps in applying your product or showcase before and afters for a cleaning service.
Carousel ads are engaging and visually appealing and can help your business stand out in Facebook feeds, Messenger, Instagram, and the Audience Network.
Here’s an example of one from Airbnb:
Carousel ads help businesses offer a closer look at their products without high production costs. You can add up to 10 photos (or short videos) and add them to the carousel for viewing.
With the right call to action, you can drive traffic to your site or even convert them into customers.
Pro Tip: You can select the order of your images or videos in the carousel. But if it doesn’t have to be chronological, consider using Facebook’s algorithm to select the order based on user engagement data.
Social media is one of the top destinations for online shoppers — it’s where they find inspiration and new products to buy. So it’s the perfect place to display your product lines to boost sales.
Here’s a great example from Adidas showing a sporty collection for workout enthusiasts and sports players:
Your feature image or video displays at the top, and beneath it are several product image ads shoppers can click to make a purchase. It’s an excellent ad strategy to increase brand visibility and sales fast. Consider including a discount or free shipping to entice shoppers to buy.
Messenger ads are an effective way to reach potential customers directly through Facebook Messenger. It opens a two-way conversation with those who’ve shown interest (e.g., clicked on one of your product ads) or purchased from your site.
Here’s an example of a brand sending a message ad for a pair of Reeboks:
Notice how the message includes important links, like to purchase the product (solid first choice, since that’s the call to action or CTA you really want). Then if they’re not ready, they can click the other options to shop for more products or ask questions.
People don’t always have time to scroll through their news feeds, so sending an ad directly to their Messenger inbox can be effective, especially with 988 million active Facebook messenger users.
Slideshow Ads are similar to carousel ads, except they include multiple images that automatically play in a loop. They’re also great for promoting products and services, increasing brand awareness, driving web traffic, and more.
Here’s an example of a slideshow ad:
You can’t see it, but it changes images every few seconds. If you have a lot of info to share (e.g., services, prices, products, etc.) and want to avoid crowding it into a single image, break it up into several photos with text.
In the above ad, there’s a lead form, which makes sense when trying to recruit college students. Or subscribers to a newsletter (say, for free coupons).
If you want to boost conversions, this is a great format to consider.
Stories Ads are the newest form of Facebook Ad type. They are full-screen vertical videos that appear in the user’s newsfeed between Facebook Stories. These ads are up to 15 seconds long — but if make them longer, Facebook will split them into multiple cards.
Here’s an example of a Facebook Stories Ad:
Like in the example, you can use Facebook Stories Ads to showcase your products. Or even better, have a customer conduct a review and demo of your product. It auto-plays and has sound, so consider having someone talk or play music in the background to capture attention.
Use the spotlight to share your brand story, offer a product demo, or promote an upcoming event or launch. Stories are attention-grabbing, so it’s best for building awareness.
Instant Experience ads
Instant Experience Ads provide a more immersive user experience. They appear as full-screen ads and allow users to explore products, services, or content more deeply by interacting with images and descriptions.
They use a mix of photos, videos, carousels, and tilt-to-pan visuals. You can also upload lifestyle images with tagged products. All of this is displayed in one ad, giving the ultimate experience.
Here’s an example of an Instant Experience Ad:
If you’re looking to drive engagement and build rapport with potential customers vs. simply asking them to buy, this is an excellent way to do it.
If your campaign goal is to gather leads for your product or service, give Lead Ads a test run. These ads allow you to create a custom form for Facebook users to fill to learn more bout your offering or to receive a freebie, such as a downloadable guide or eBook.
You can collect information, such as their name, email address, and phone number. You can insert custom questions to get more granular details, such as what problem they’re having that you can solve (e.g., what’s their biggest concern with taxes issue, if you’re a CPA). The question can be multiple-choice or open-ended.
Here’s an example of a Facebook Lead Ad to download a cheat sheet:
It’s ideal to use lead generation ads if you’re looking to:
- Learn who your top customers are
- Build a list of subscribers for your business email campaign
- Encourage people to download an asset, such as a brochure or case study
- Understand your prospects’ interests and behaviors
- Entice people to join your program or event
Lead Ads appear in the Facebook news feed, as well as in Stories, Instant Articles, Marketplace, IG feed, IG Stories, and In-Stream Videos. But it’s only available for mobile devices, so be mindful when designing the ad.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to the ad specs for each ad type, so your images, videos, and text display correctly.
Expert tips for choosing a Facebook Ad type
Selecting a Facebook Ad type doesn’t mean choosing only one. Meta knows what individual users prefer, so it’s essential to include more than one ad format in each ad set. Image ads are popular because they pop up everywhere across Meta platforms.
“As a consumer, I see video ads in Stories as effective because I spend most of my time on social scrolling through Stories,” shares Nicole Goodnough, paid social media manager at HawkSEM.
“Then as an advertiser, carousel or collection ads are my favorites since videos must be done well to perform, and they allow me to share more info and products with users than a single image ad does.
Pro Tip: Carousels can have images or videos and appear in Stories, not just feeds. Plus, over a billion stories are posted daily across Meta apps, making them a popular format users create and consume.
How our client increased ad revenue by 11% (hint: Facebook Ads)
We even see great gains for the clients we run Facebook Ad campaigns for. Goodnough shares her experience with an ecommerce client who struggled to get a positive return on ad spend (ROAS) using the platform.
“I broadened their audience targeting to give Meta’s AI more data to use and built out lookalike audiences from multiple sources (making sure to exclude these from broad and interest-based ad sets, of course!),” explains Goodnough. “I also included multiple ad formats in each ad set: image, video, and carousel.”
Unfortunately, since they sell healthcare supplements, their product catalog wasn’t complete due to Meta’s product restrictions, so we couldn’t leverage collections/catalog ads.
“Instead of running only long-term campaigns, I recommended we leverage their sales and limited-time discounts in shorter campaigns to capture new customers,” continues Goodnough.
“After a month with this approach, we saw an 11% increase in Facebook revenue and a 100% ROAS increase month-over-month. After four months with HawkSEM, the company’s revenue on paid campaigns (search and social) increased by about 300%.”
Facebook Ads: Targeting different audience types
When selecting ad types for your Facebook campaigns, note your target audience. You’ll determine the best ad format based on your audience’s preferences and past behaviors.
Your analytics tools will be useful here. At HawkSEM, we have proprietary software, ConversionIQ, that analyzes audience data to determine which ads get the most clicks, from whom, and using which keywords. With this data, we help businesses double lead volume and boost lead quality by 60%.
When setting up your Facebook Ads campaign, you must select your target audience, making this data super useful. If you’re unsure who to target, test different audiences to see which campaigns perform best.
Here’s a look at the audience targeting options on Facebook:
- Demographic targeting: Targets audiences based on age, gender, education, job title, and other similar criteria. For example, a company selling baby products can target new or expecting parents who are likely to buy baby products. Similarly, a luxury watch company can target high-income individuals who follow luxury brand pages.
- Interest targeting: Targets audiences based on their interests, hobbies, and activities. For example, a fitness company can target people interested in health and wellness, gyms, or yoga. Similarly, a travel company can target audiences who’ve shown an interest in travel-related pages or events.
- Behavioral targeting: Targets audiences based on their behavior on Facebook, such as their past purchase behavior, device usage, or engagement with ads. For example, a company that sells beauty products can target audiences who previously bought from their website or engaged with their Facebook page.
- Location targeting: Targets audiences based on their geographic location, such as city, state, or country. For example, a restaurant can target audiences who live in or near their location.
- Custom targeting: Targets audiences based on custom criteria, such as a list of email addresses or phone numbers. For example, a company can upload a list of their existing customers’ email addresses to target them with Facebook Ads.
With the wide range of audience targeting options available, you can create effective campaigns tailored to the exact needs of your target audience. Test and optimize your ads to ensure you get the most out of your budget.
Facebook Ads vs. other paid social platforms
Advertising campaigns work best when it uses platforms your target customers use often. If this means publishing ads across multiple social media platforms, then so be it. Either way, it’s still good to know the differences between the platforms to gauge whether it’s the right fit for your company.
For instance, if you’re an accounting firm, you likely have customers that use Instagram. However, your business isn’t all that enticing to look at, so it wouldn’t make sense to be on a highly visual platform like IG.
Here’s how Facebook compares to other paid social platforms:
- Instagram Ads: Since Meta owns Instagram, it has all the same features and options as Facebook Ads. The difference is that IG focuses more on visuals, such as Stories, carousels, and collages. It’s the perfect medium for advertising products vs. services. Facebook does well with visual and text-based ads and can sell products and services.
- LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn has similar audience targeting features as Facebook, but since its platform caters to businesses, the parameters are unique. For example, you can target audiences based on their job title, company size, industry, and revenue. This makes it an ideal platform for business-to-business (B2B) companies selling products and services.
- Pinterest Ads: Here’s yet another highly visual platform, but what makes Pinterest unique is that it’s more of a search engine for ideas and inspiration. For example, many people head there to find things to make (e.g., recipes, knitting patterns, etc.) and decorative ideas (e.g., wedding designs, home decor, etc.). This makes it an ideal platform for selling hand-made products, arts and crafts, and digital products, like sewing ebooks.
- Twitter Ads: Twitter Ads also have various targeting options, such as keyword targeting and tailored audiences. Companies can use Twitter Ads to promote their products, services, accounts or content, and boost visibility for organic tweets. Twitter’s Promoted Trends feature, can ensure your message reaches the top of users’ feeds.
- YouTube Ads: If you’re creating video ads, YouTube is the perfect platform to publish them. It doesn’t get any more engaging and visual than YouTube, so if you can make your ads engaging, fun, and interactive, then you’ll increase your odds of getting clicks. Companies across all industries use YouTube to promote their goods and services.
Social media advertising doesn’t have to mean choosing one channel over another. Combining Facebook marketing with Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn is possible. Remember, it’s about finding what works best for your audience, while still reaching your business goals.
But, if you want to select one, then Goodnough vouches for Facebook Ads:
“Facebook Ads Manager serves ads on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, making it a great place to advertise since you’re getting multiple channels in one campaign. Plus, Meta has so much data, thanks to its sheer volume of users.”
She adds that, if you want to learn about your customer base, how in-demand your product or service is, or what messaging works, hit up Facebook Ads.
Facebook Ads by the numbers
Facebook continues to be a powerhouse for digital marketers and advertisers because of its unwavering popularity. Today, it has nearly 3 billion monthly active users who spend an average of 33 minutes daily on this platform (more than Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok).
But that’s not the only reason 3 million businesses actively advertise on Facebook. It likely also has something to do with Facebook ads potentially reaching 2.17 billion people worldwide (over 27% of the world’s population).
Nowhere else do you get that type of reach without spending a hefty price.
What’s more, the average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook Ads across all industries is roughly $1.72. Of course, it can jump up as high as $25 or more per click, depending on your industry and competition.
When your audience targeting and messaging are on point, you can see an average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.90% (regardless of industry). And these clicks aren’t fluff — Facebook advertisers are seeing a 9.21% average conversion rate.
How Facebook Ads can benefit your business
Whatever your campaign objective, you can likely reach it with Facebook Ads. Here’s an overview of the benefits:
- Increased brand awareness: Facebook Ads can help you reach a wider audience and increase brand awareness.
- Increased website traffic: Facebook Ads can increase conversions and sales by driving more traffic to your website.
- Improved targeting: Facebook Ads’ advanced targeting options can help you reach your ideal customer and improve your return on investment (ROI).
- Cost-effective: Facebook Ads can be very cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising.
Choosing the right Facebook Ads format for your objective
Next, you’ll want to choose a key objective or overall goal for your Facebook advertising efforts to give you a clear direction.
You can’t choose multiple ad objectives for each ad — and really, you wouldn’t want to. Single CTAs perform best because they provide straightforward direction. Instead, you can create multiple ads for each goal.
So, how do you choose the right objective for your ad campaign? First, decide which stage of the buying cycle you want to target. You can choose from Brand Awareness, Leads, Purchases, and others.
After that, you’ll need to decide which format to use. The objective you choose for your FB Ads dictates which types of media you can use.
Remember that within each campaign, you’ll also set specific audiences:
- Custom Audiences: People who have already visited your website, liked your Facebook page, signed up for any of your email lists, or provided an email address on a landing page
- Saved Audiences: New audiences segmented by specific demographics and interests you choose
- Lookalike Audiences: Audiences Facebook creates based on common qualities of lists you upload (this can be especially helpful if you are using cohort analysis to increase customer retention)
- Local Audiences: People local to your business or in a certain geolocation
Once you create a perfect audience segment, you can save it for later. Now, let’s dig into ad types.
Facebook Ads for awareness
Depending on your goals, you could use brand awareness FB ads to:
- Reach the nearly 3 billion monthly active users who may not know your business exists
- Build brand trust among your current audience (this one is beneficial for B2B or “high-risk” aka pricier B2C purchases)
- Keep your company top of mind if and when a viewer may be in the market for your product or service
- Grow your followers to reach a larger portion of your target audience
- Increase your SEO ranking, making you easier to find
Awareness campaigns are best suited for targeting audiences at the top of your sales funnel with straightforward content. Use them for demand generation, explaining your values, or reaching new customers within a certain distance.
For awareness, you can choose these formats and features:
- Single image or video
- Video or image carousel
- Website links and branded partner content
For awareness ads, in particular, it’s a good idea to use high-quality images, infographics, or short video clips to grab attention quickly.
Remarketing ads on Facebook
Historically, remarketing campaigns were ideal for people who saw your ad but weren’t ready to purchase your products or services for one reason or another.
Due to that Industry-rocking iOS update, there have been some changes to how Facebook ads work on Apple products. These updates include:
- The SKAdNetwork API will be used by Facebook for app advertising on all iOS 14, which will delay or restrict event data.
- Apple also created the PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol which will restrict data you can access. However, Facebook is working on an Aggregated Event Management tool to counter this.
- There will be an eight-pixel event cap, meaning you’ll have a maximum of eight conversion events per domain, making you prioritize your events.
Did you know: For ecommerce retailers, Facebook launched Facebook Shops. This free feature “allows business page admins to create a Facebook or Instagram-based mobile-optimized online store that highlights products or collections of items,” according to HubSpot.
Facebook ads for consideration
Consideration Facebook ads are best for audience members in the top or middle of the funnel. These folks know your brand exists, but they need some in-depth, high-quality content and a little nurturing.
You’ll want this audience to take some kind of action — like downloading your app, filling out a form, or requesting a consultation — even if they don’t necessarily convert into a customer quite yet.
Facebook lets you choose from several consideration formats and features:
- Single image or video
- Video or image carousel
- Product collections
- Instant lead generation forms
- Message buttons and prompts
- Deferred deep links (within apps)
- FB events
Pro tip: Promote some of your best-performing blog posts, infographics, videos, or other personalized content to engage your target audience during this stage.
Facebook ads for conversions
Now it’s time to convert your bottom-of-the-funnel leads into buyers.
You’ve already spent time nurturing these leads and building awareness. These people are likely very familiar with your products and services. And because you nurtured them through each step of the funnel, they ideally know, like, and trust your brand.
By providing these people with unique purchasing opportunities, you create a one-on-one buying experience that can turn them into lifetime customers.
Since these people have likely consumed several pieces of content, you can reward them with special coupons, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one promotions to sweeten the deal.
A little can go a long way — Robert Cialdini’s methods of persuasion show that reciprocity is powerful. For example, a single mint left for customers increased tips for waitstaff by 3%.
Don’t forget to add these customers to your CRM or auto-responder so you can follow up with them after their purchase is completed. This is especially ideal for products that need to be replaced or replenished after a period of time (think: ink cartridges, water filters, and most beauty products).
Facebook Pixel is particularly useful for tracking the ROI of your Facebook strategy through conversions.
You can use this with different types of facebook ads like:
- Single image or video
- Product collections
- CTA buttons like “Shop Now,” “Book Now,” or “Donate Now”
- Product catalogs (available for travel, e-commerce, real estate, and auto)
- Physical store traffic (for qualifying businesses with physical locations)
Facebook can also use your inventory to create dynamic ads based on products your followers have already viewed on your website with product catalogs.
Pro tip: Facebook recently changed their policies to no longer allow advertisers to target ads to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on age, gender and location. According to Facebook, “previously available targeting options, like those based on interests or on their activity on other apps and websites, will no longer be available to advertisers.”
Include an Instant Experience
With each objective, Facebook Ads will also ask if you’d like to include an Instant Experience. Instant Experiences allow you to create a fullscreen interactive landing page with rich media like GIFs, products, videos, and more.
Have you heard of Facebook Canvas ads? Instant Experiences replaced them. They feel like you’re visiting a web page, but you’re really just viewing a fullscreen advertisement within the Facebook app.
Instant Experiences are useful because you don’t have to worry about creating accelerated mobile landing pages (AMP) or dealing with slow load times. Your viewers don’t have to leave the Facebook app, and everything loads at lightning speed.
Facebook provides various placement options for you to show an ad to potential customers, as Search Engine Journal points out. Because of this, you want to be strategic about your ad placement. To take full advantage of this option, they recommend customizing by placement and not being too restricting when it comes to placements.
Did you know: In summer 2021, Facebook extended Facebook Pay off-site to participating third-party websites as well.
Best practices for creating a successful Facebook Ad campaigns
Creating a successful Facebook Ad campaign requires careful planning and implementation.
And while it may be tempting to use Meta’s AI to run your campaigns, don’t rely on it wholeheartedly.
“A lot of people launch Facebook campaigns and then forget about them,” says Goodnough. “While it’s true that Meta’s AI is constantly learning how to best deliver ads, you still need the human touch to run and analyze tests, make optimizations, and update ads regularly to develop effective campaigns.”
Here are some tips to ensure optimal results:
- Keep your customers in mind: Your target audience should always be top of mind. Also, while it’s important to maintain a brand identity, social media is the place to experiment with content to get customers to “tell” you what works. What customers relate to may not be what you expect.
- Include a clear CTA: Users should know what you want them to do next, so have a clear call-to-action, such as “Sign Up Now” or “Learn More.”
- Use ad retargeting: Retargeting can help you reach potential customers who’ve already seen your ad. Use the Facebook Pixel to track website visitors and entice them to return to complete their purchase or lead form.
- Track performance: Know which metrics you’ll track (e.g., page likes, video views, event responses) and monitor your campaign’s results. Check in regularly (at least once or twice monthly) to assess performance and adjust your strategy as necessary.
- Use eye-catching visuals and ad copy: If you want to resonate with your audience, then you need to stand out with an image and messaging that speaks to them. This is easier to pull off after deep customer research that includes interviews and surveys with your best customers.
- A/B test more than just ad creatives: Don’t just test images and copy. We can test targeting parameters, placements, budget optimizations, and more. You might be surprised by which ad or campaign outperforms another. As Josue Valles once said: “When it comes to testing, your opinion doesn’t matter. So remember, assume nothing. Test everything.”
- Sharpen up your audience targeting: Some advertisers skip excluding certain audiences as they’re building campaigns. If you’re testing a lookalike audience against an interest-based audience, exclude that lookalike from the interest audience to avoid audience overlap and bidding against yourself.
If there’s one thing you should take away from this, it’s that Facebook advertising is one giant experiment. Until you have all the data to pinpoint exactly who your audience is, what they desire, and what makes them click (literally), then you’re making strategic guesses to find out.
This is what makes Facebook the creme de la creme of social media ads. It gives you access to a wide audience and metrics to learn everything you can about your core customers.
Of course, this takes time and practice. If you’re not up for it, you can always enlist the help of the folks with decades of combined experience on the platform (hint: us).
Sound like a plan? Then connect with one of our Facebook advertising exerts today!
This post has been updated and was originally published in December 2020.