Facebook advertisers have tons of targeting options and campaigns to choose from. It’s no wonder businesses of all sizes—from small mom and pop shops to Fortune 100 companies—use Facebook ads.
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While having access to a massive variety of advertising options is a marketer’s dream come true, it can also make getting started a daunting task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out the following types of Facebook ads to see how you can apply them to your Facebook ad strategies.
Table of contents
Types of Facebook ads
1. Image ads
Facebook image ads, or photo ads, as some call them, feature a still image and accompanying copy and a call to action (CTA). You can use boosted posts or create dedicated ads for Facebook image ads. Many ecommerce advertisers use image ads to promote a product and include a link to the product page.
Facebook allows you to put text over your image ads, but it recommends keeping the words to less than 20% of the image. Too many words may be distracting for users and could also lead to denial of your ad, in which case you’ll need to review, update, and resubmit.
Beauty brand Common Heir uses Facebook image ads to promote its new product, a retinol serum. It has a couple of different ad options, each promoting the same product. Some drive to the brand’s Instagram page, while others drive directly to the product page.
2. Video ads
Facebook video ads are much the same as image ads, the difference being the content format. Video ads feature video or motion graphics, while image ads are still photos or graphics. You can create video ads in Facebook or boost organic posts that have video.
Video ads tend to be more engaging than image ads. More than 1.25 billion people consume video on the platform each month, and people spend almost half their time on the app watching videos. However, video can also be more complicated and expensive to produce.
When you use Facebook video ads, you can choose from a variety of placements and objectives. These parameters determine your video requirements, including Facebook ad sizes, aspect ratio, and video length.
3. Instant Experience ads
Facebook Instant Experiences (formerly Canvas) are full-screen, multimedia ad types that deliver rich content experiences to audiences. Instant Experiences encompass a lot of the features and capabilities of the other Facebook ad types—users can view images, watch videos, swipe through carousels, click through to tagged products, and even tilt to pan for unique angles.
Instant Experiences is a highly engaging Facebook ad type and leverages a combination of assets to create an immersive user experience. In many cases, you can use the images and videos you created for other Facebook ad types and then repurpose them in an Instant Experiences package. This is a great way to make the most of your investment in Facebook ad creative.
Women’s lingerie brand Adore Me used Instant Experiences to drive opt-ins to the brand’s subscription model for its new line of swimsuits. It used the flexibility and comprehensiveness of the Instant Experience to promote the subscription option with testimonial videos as well as content that explains how the subscription plan works. The campaign ended up driving 25% more opt-ins than its standard video ads.
4. Poll ads
Facebook’s poll ads allow you to survey your targeted audience with a question, offering them two answers to choose from. This Facebook ad type is generally effective for boosting engagement with your existing audience, as well as generating brand awareness among new potential customers. You can create Facebook poll ads with images or videos.
Here are a few ideas for how to use poll ads:
- Survey customers to find out their current thoughts on your brand and/or products.
- Get input on upcoming designs or new product ideas. A fashion designer, for example, could poll its audience about which color option to add for a popular dress.
- Boost engagement by posting a poll on a current topic that’s of interest to your audience and relevant to your brand.
- Conduct market research to learn more about your target market.
5. Carousel ads
Facebook carousel ads feature up to 10 images or videos in a format users can click through. Each image or video can have a unique link, so this is a great Facebook ad type if you’re promoting a product collection, for example.
You can also link them all to the same URL, which works well if you’re promoting a single product but want to highlight various features.
You can set the order of your images and videos, or you can let Facebook’s algorithm do it for you, lining them up in the order that drives the most conversions.
The below ad from Benoa Swim features multiple products. The swimsuit brand uses lifestyle product images to promote a variety of swimsuits, each linking to the corresponding product page. This carousel ad is a perfect candidate for Facebook’s automatic optimization because the images aren’t sequential.
6. Slideshow ads
If you’re looking to repurpose ad assets you already have, Facebook slideshow ads could work for you. Facebook essentially takes your image ads and puts the files together in a slideshow video format. This Facebook ad type will help you leverage the power of video without needing extra budget for videos, which can be expensive to produce.
If you have high-performing Facebook image ads, you may consider turning them into a slideshow video ad. You can do all of this within Facebook, as well as add stock photos and music for some variety.
7. Collection ads
Facebook collection ads are ecommerce-oriented and meant specifically to turn Facebook browsers into online buyers. Collection ads have a main featured image or video, as well as three smaller images underneath. When a user clicks on a collection ad, they’re taken to an Instant Experience.
There are three templates for Facebook collection ads:
- Instant Storefront if you have four or more products and want to make purchasing your products the focus.
- Instant Lookbook for lifestyle and contextual imagery showing your product(s) in action while also telling your brand story.
- Instant Customer Acquisition to focus on driving mobile conversions or other actions.
Jewelry brand Pura Vida used Facebook collection ads to drive sales over Memorial Day weekend. It created a 40%-off promotional offer and highlighted that in the main hero image, and then used its product catalog to supplement with product imagery. The brand ended up increasing daily purchases 6.3 times and earned a 20% increase in return on ad spend for the whole campaign.
8. Lead ads
The lead ad unit makes the process of collecting email addresses and building email lists incredibly easy. With this Facebook ad type, your prospects can fill out and submit a form with as little effort as it takes to like or share a post.
The beauty of the lead ad unit is that Facebook auto-populates most of the fields a prospect would normally have to fill out manually. This reduces friction, which makes them more likely to follow through.
If you’re looking to grow your email list, lead ads are a great option. In many cases, you can connect your lead ad with your email service provider and leverage automations. New contacts will be added to one of your lists and entered into an automated workflow that you’ve created.
9. Dynamic ads
Facebook dynamic ads connect your store’s product catalog with your Facebook Events Manager and Facebook pixel. When someone visits your site and then logs into Facebook, they’ll see an ad that features the same products they were looking at on your website. As a result, the ad they see is incredibly personalized and relevant.
Dynamic ads are typically in the carousel ad format. You can also apply custom audiences to your dynamic ads, allowing you to curate more targeted collections of items based on who will be seeing it. For example, maybe you have product categories on your website. You can create carousel ads for different categories and show them to users who’ve visited pages within the corresponding category.
When you run a dynamic ad, the copy is the same for everyone who sees it, but the creative is 100% unique and personalized based on the respective viewers’ behavior on your website.
With dynamic ads, you can choose four different audiences to target:
- Viewed but not purchased
- Added to cart but not purchased
- Upsell products
- Cross-sell products
Based on your selected audience, the ad will automatically be optimized for each objective, saving you time and driving better results.
Learn more: What is customer retention and why is it important?
Many of Facebook’s marketing partners have had impressive results with dynamic ads. According to the platform, The Farmer’s Dog boosted conversions by 23% thanks to dynamic ads. It’s easy to understand why the ROI is so high, given that it’s the most personalized, targeted, and relevant ad businesses can run—short of creating a unique ad for every Facebook user.
10. Messenger ads
Facebook Messenger ads appear in users’ chat tab as well as in between Messenger Stories. You can use the creative assets from other Facebook ad types and set your targeting and placement parameters, and Facebook will do the rest. When someone taps on your Messenger ad, they’re taken to your destination of choice (your website, app, or a direct message with your Facebook page).
You can also use Facebook Messenger ads on Instagram and WhatsApp.
11. Stories ads
Facebook Stories ads show up when users are consuming Stories rather than scrolling through their news feed. According to Facebook, people love Stories. Seventy-three percent of US users say Stories help them experience new things, and 62% plan to use Stories more in the future. And as many as four million advertisers are using this option.
Stories ads appear in vertical format, so keep that in mind when creating images and videos to use in this Facebook ad type. You can also push these ads to Instagram and Messenger.
Awesome Maps uses Facebook Stories ads to promote its illustrated maps. The example below features two videos highlighting a particular map. A tap on “Shop now” takes users directly to the product page so they can make a purchase.
12. Augmented reality ads
Facebook augmented reality ads are immersive ad experiences available to mobile users. Here’s how it works: A user sees your ad in their feed and when they tap it, they’ll see interactive hotspots and instructions on how to engage with the ad. This launches the augmented reality (AR) experience, in which users can view your products from new angles and virtually explore the products, mimicking an in-person shopping experience.
Footwear brand GREATS used Facebook AR ads to boost brand awareness and customer acquisition. To do so, it created cheeky AR ads that prompted people to share images of themselves—and then added messaging that told participants they’re “GREAT.” GREATS created a lookalike audience and targeted users similar to its existing customers with the highest lifetime value. These ads led to 3.4 times more brand lift than the brand’s standard video ads.
Facebook ad ideas
Recover abandoned carts
Roughly 70% of shoppers abandon their cart, according to data collected by the Baymard Institute. In other words, for every 10 people who add a product to their cart, nearly seven of them will leave your store without making a purchase.
How do you get these shoppers back to your store so they can complete the purchase? With Facebook retargeting, you can run a highly personalized Facebook ad aimed at these individuals. These ads typically offer an incentive, such as free shipping or 10% off, if the person returns to complete their purchase.
Customer thank-you ads
Many business owners have a bad habit of putting their marketing efforts into turning leads into customers and stopping there, without thinking about customer retention. This is a huge mistake.
It’s much easier to turn a first-time customer into a repeat customer than it is to turn a cold lead into a first-time customer. And it’s often significantly more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current one.
This is why you may consider running thank-you ads for your store. For example, you might run an ad targeting new customers for two days post-purchase, featuring a 30-second video personally thanking them for their business. It’s a great way to build brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction—and turn first-time customers into repeat customers shortly after their first purchase. You can take this a step further by building a customer loyalty program that nurtures these relationships and boosts repeat sales.
Existing customer new product ads
Because existing customers already know and trust you, it’s a no-brainer that when you roll out a new product, the first ad you run should be an announcement targeting existing customers.
HelloFresh used this tactic to promote the launch of its sub-brand, Green Chef. It partnered with influencers to run targeted Facebook ads to its existing customer base, announcing the latest arrival to the brand.
New traffic generation ads
Retargeting is great, but unless you’re driving high-quality traffic to your site, it won’t be very effective. It’s always a good idea to have a Facebook campaign driving potential new customers to your store. You might call this campaign a first-touch-point ad, as it’s likely the first time the person viewing the ad has heard of your business.
Here’s an example of a traffic generation ad from DreamCloud Sleep announcing its brand and product to its audience:
This type of ad will typically have a lower click-through rate (CTR) and higher CPC than retargeting campaigns, because you don’t know as much about the people viewing your ads.
But there are several ways you can decrease the cost and improve the performance of a first-touch-point ad:
Start with a Lookalike Audience
If you have an existing customer or prospect list, you can easily import that into the Ads Manager as a new Custom Audience.
Once that audience is ready, you can use it to create a Lookalike Audience of two million to 20 million people. This new audience will contain Facebook users who most closely match your existing customers, making them easier to target.
Use graph search and Audience Insights
Facebook provides advertisers with a variety of powerful free tools. Audience Insights allow you to discover a wealth of demographic, behavioral and interest data on all Facebook users. You can make this data more useful by filtering the search by specific pages, interests, locations, and demographics.
Input your competitor’s pages into Audience Insights to learn more about your potential target audience. This search will return an incredible amount of data about the Facebook users who like your competitors’ pages, which you can use to target your first Facebook ads.
It’s always a good idea to A/B test your Facebook ads, regardless of the type of ad, but it’s critical to test your first-touch-point ads. For a new campaign, create two or three copy options and another two or three creative options. Test these variations on multiple audiences.
You don’t need to spend a lot of cash to do this right. You can invest a few dollars a day on each variation for a week and then analyze the results. Upon analyzing the data, ramp up the spending for your best-performing copy, creative, and audience.
To begin advertising on Facebook, start small, experiment, measure results, and iterate. The types of Facebook ads mentioned in this article can be a foundation for you to build your business’s long-term social media marketing strategy. Now that you’re done reading, start testing!
More resources to learn about Facebook advertising:
- How to Scale Your Facebook Ads (While Maintaining a Healthy Return on Ad Spend)
- 7 Common Facebook Advertising Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was originally published April 2016.