Facebook is one of the world’s leading advertising platforms – if not the leader – and yet far less space is dedicated to understanding it than, say, Google, with which the internet has something of an obsession.
Facebook allows you to serve ads in a bunch of different formats to your audience. But the sheer number of ad formats on offer can make settling on one (or more) a challenge.
In this article, we’re going to look at each of the Facebook ad formats and types in turn so that you can gain a little more knowledge of how to use each for your advertising objective, breaking them down into their general goals for your business.
Types of Facebook Ad Formats
Various ad formats can be used across the Facebook platforms. The types of formats that are available vary based on the campaign ad objective. It’s important to select an advertising objective that matches with your business goals.
Advertising objectives can also impact the placement of your ads. This means that depending on what objective you choose, your ads can appear on various Facebook platforms (such as Instagram, Audience Network or Facebook). After you select your advertising objective, you can choose the right format for your ad such as photo, video or text.
All ads on Facebook and Instagram must have an image (except Video Ads). Adding a relevant image of your service or product can greatly impact the success of your ad. Photo ads can be used with the Brand Awareness, Engagement, Reach and Store Traffic advertising objectives. You can choose to use a single image ad or use carousel, collection, slideshow or Instant Experience to advertise with multiple images and video.
If your advertising objective is to reach more people, promote video views, increase engagement or drive conversions, video ads may be a great option for your promotions. Video ads can run on Facebook and Instagram. You can create video ads directly from your Facebook page or by uploading to your Facebook library.
Slideshow ads can be used with all campaign objectives. Slideshow ads are available when you choose the single image or video format. The format combines multiple images or videos, text and sound to capture your audience’s attention and then tell the story. Slideshow ads create high-quality ad without the expense or challenges of video production. Slideshow ads can appear on Facebook and Instagram on smartphones, tablets and computers just like a video, and you’ll see the same metrics as video ads.
The carousel format allows you to showcase up to ten images or videos within a single ad, each with its own landing page link. Carousel ads are available for the following advertising objectives: Brand Awareness, Conversions, Reach, Store Traffic and Traffic. The carousel format can be created from your Page, event, Ads Manager or the Ads API.
The collection ad format allows you to combine video, slideshow or image with product images taken from a catalogue. This format allows people to interact with your ad and browse more products, or learn more about the features of a specific product, in a fast-loading, full-screen experience, without leaving the Facebook app. Collection is ideal for e-commerce advertisers because it allows them to show multiple pieces of content alongside a main creative. Collection ads can be used with the traffic, Conversion, Store Traffic or Catalogue Sales objectives.
Instant Experience is used with all available ad formats – carousel, single image, single video, slideshow or collection. This format is a mobile-only experience that can be used on both iOS and Android. Instant experience is optimised to showcase your products, highlight your brand or inspire mobile shopping. Custom Instant Experience can be created within Ads Manager, the Page Publishing tools section or with the Ads API. Instant Experience is available with the following advertising objectives: Brand Awareness, Engagement, Conversion, Traffic or Video Views.
Catalogue/ Dynamic Ads
A catalogue stores information about the items in your stock inventory. The catalogue is used to promote your inventory and business across all platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network and Messenger. The types of catalogues vary for different businesses, such as e-commerce (businesses that sell products), travel (businesses that sell flights, destinations or hotels), property and automotive.
Ad Format Summary
Ad formats can be tested at different stages of the purchase funnel, however from historical practice some are known to perform better at various stages. For example Video ads can be great for brand awareness, whilst catalogue ads can work better for bottom of the funnel targeting options such as remarketing.
Facebook Ads Types
The Facebook Ad formats listed above can be used with lots of Facebook Ad types.
Dynamic Product Ads
Dynamic product ads are a little bit like the re-marketing ads that search engines like Google use, every time a user goes to a website in the ad network. On Facebook, dynamic product ads show users a selection of products with which they previously showed interest.
The primary challenge you’ll face with deploying this kind of ad is making sure that the pictures you select fit the ad framework. All you then have to do is make sure that you have Facebook Pixel working on your website and that’s it!
Facebook Lead Ads
The purpose of Facebook lead ads is to get customers’ email addresses so that you can start sending them marketing materials. Facebook has a helpful lead ad creator where you choose the fields that you’d like the customer to complete – such as their name and email (and anything else you want) – and then provides you with a tool to collect all of the information you get. You’ll need to develop ad copy (less than 90 characters), a catchy title, and a context card button which describes what a user gets if they sign up.
If you sell something inherently visual or run an ecommerce business, then canvas ads are the perfect complement. Canvas ads, currently only available on the mobile version of Facebook, are like mini slide-shows of your product images that show up in users’ feeds. Images appear on a carousel, allowing your audience to swipe through different products, left to right.
Collection ads display images of your products in a collection, side by side. Facebook recommends choosing images that are 1,200 by 628 pixels.
Ads That Increase Engagement
Page Post Text
Page post text is one of the most basic forms of advertising on Facebook, designed to boost engagement. Sponsored text appears alongside a user’s regular feed.
Page Post Video Ads
Page post video ads build on page post text. With page post video ads, you can post a combination of video and text to entice an audience to engage with you. Facebook gives you tools to retarget users who watch your video. Be brief though: Facebook restricts ad copy to 90 characters.
Page Post Photo Ads
Similar to the previous two, photo ads appear in the right column and on the desktop and mobile newsfeeds. Pictures, like videos, tend to be potent tools for engaging, encouraging likes, comments and shares
Page Like Ads
Finally, if you want to increase your page likes to boost its visibility, page like ads are the best tool for the job. Page like ads place a prominent call to action below a captioned segment of your page, encouraging users to click the like button.
Ads That Encourage App Installation
Mobile App Ads
Facebook knows that a lot of businesses depend on apps to generate revenue. And because Facebook is an online platform, it makes sense to integrate the whole process to make installation seamless. The Mobile App Ad features a helpful “install now” call to action that users can click to download and install the app automatically.
Desktop App Ads
Desktop app adds are similar to mobile app ads but optimised for desktop. Like the mobile version, Facebook’s desktop app ads builder gives you the option to fine tune which members of the Facebook community you target to boost overall impact and conversions.
Ads That Boost Website And Business Traffic
Link Click Ads
Link click ads are probably the ad that most people first think of when they consider Facebook ads. These ads appear as attractive combinations of images and text which provide a direct link to your website landing or product pages. Link click ads can be placed in several locations, including the desktop and mobile newsfeeds, Instagram, and the audience network. As before, Facebook recommends that you use 1200 by 628-pixel images.
Video ads are essentially the same as link click ads but with a video in the box instead of an image. In general, videos tend to be more engaging, and so companies that can deliver high-quality marketing videos on Facebook are likely to see much greater conversions that those who rely on text and pictures only.
It’s worth noting that Facebook places a restriction on the size that your video can be: 4GB max. So some 4K, 60 frames-per-second videos may fall foul of the rules. Other than that, you should have plenty of space to place your ad. Top performing videos tend to be between 15 and 30 seconds, providing just enough information to customers so that they click through to your site to find out more.
Boosted Page Posts
“Boosted page posts” is a tool that allows companies to boost how many people see their page posts in their feed. The more money that you bid, the more people you can reach. Once you’ve written a post, Facebook will give you the option to select whether you want it to be boosted and how much you want to spend.
Event Ads are ads which target people living in the local area, telling them about upcoming events. These ads include a “join” call to action, allowing people to sign up or pay to attend.
Facebook has a vast range of advert formats that are suited to varying advertising objectives. It is also possible to test different ad formats available for the same campaign objective within one ad set.