Facebook Creative That Converts: How (and When) to Use Different Ad Types

Single image ad on Facebook.

The more time and money you spend advertising on Facebook, the clearer it becomes that good creative is the key to improving your return on investment (ROI).

Even if you have a solid targeting strategy for who you want to show your ad to, if your creative doesn’t persuade your audience to take action, generating sales can get very expensive.

But between all the different creative formats at your disposal, and the different goals for your Facebook advertising strategy, it can be hard to determine which formats to use and when. Would a product video do best? Or perhaps a carousel of product images? What about a carousel with a video in it?

The first step is to understand all of your available options on the Facebook advertising platform, and what goals each ad format is best suited for.

Getting to know the Facebook advertising platform

Before creating your Facebook ad, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Facebook and its network of different apps like Instagram and Messenger. Understanding how and why people use these platforms will help you create ads that resonate with their respective audiences.

Social media strategy and planning templates

Ready to get started with your social media strategy? These free, customizable templates give you tools to plan and execute a strategy that connects you with your target audience while keeping your content calendar organized.

Here are a few key things to consider when advertising on Facebook:

  1. User-generated content wins: Remember these are social networks—users typically see content that looks organic and that is mostly created using a standard smartphone camera. To fit in on Facebook, you should avoid using creative that won’t feel native to the platform.
  2. Your ads are easy to ignore: Unlike other advertising platforms, Facebook ads are entirely skippable, whether you’re scrolling through your feed or tapping from one Instagram story to the next. To be successful on Facebook, your ad must capture attention within the first few seconds.
  3. Muted videos are the default: According to Digiday, 85% of Facebook’s users are watching videos without sound. Using subtitles, eye-catching visuals, and product demonstrations are useful ways to get your message across whether sound is on or not.
  4. Users can engage with your ads: Another unique feature of Facebook and Instagram ads is the ability for users to interact with them through shares, comments, and likes. Creating an ad that generates comments and shares can increase the reach of your post beyond the audiences you directly advertise to.

Stand-out examples for each Facebook ad format

When it comes to creating your ad, there are currently four different formats to choose from. Selecting the right one for your product and your business goals, and optimizing each element, is the key to driving conversions.

1. Single image ad

The single image ad is one of the oldest ad formats available on Facebook. In recent years, more focus and attention has been invested in video, which has led many advertisers away from the static image format.

However, single image ads are still valuable when used at the right time. Here are the elements of a single image ad and when they're still a great fit for your campaign:

Ad elements:

  • Single image (recommended aspect ratio of 1:1 or 16:9)
  • Text that appears above the ad
  • A Display URL that is featured above the headline (typically, your brand’s domain name)
  • A Destination URL for the relevant landing page for the ad
  • Bolded headline below the image to grab attention
  • News Feed link description to expand on the headline (optional)
  • Call to action (e.g. Shop now, Learn More)

If you only sell one product

Single product ad.

If you sell a single flagship product and your customers generally understand how it works, a single image is an effective ad format. Make sure to choose a flattering product photo that will appeal to the widest range of potential customers and their motivations to buy your product.

If you’re trying to convey a simple message

Simple message ad.

Running a 50% off sale? Offering free shipping this weekend? If you have a straightforward message you want to convey quickly, a single image ad can do just that. With nothing to watch or swipe through, your message can be immediately understood by prospective buyers. This is especially useful for retargeting past visitors, customers, and email subscribers.

If you want to optimize for clicks

Optimizing clicks for Facebook ads.

If your Facebook advertising strategy is focused on driving a high volume of traffic to your store, a simple image ad can provide enough information about your product to produce inexpensive clicks.

Using an image to “tease” your product and how it works requires compelling copy and images to build curiosity with your audience. Keep the following best practices in mind when writing copy for your Facebook ads:

  • Use relevant and entertaining emojis 👀
  • Talk about relatable subjects or scenarios to encourage engagement
  • Drop extra page links within your post copy for more website clicks
  • Use third party testimonials or reviews from customers or press

When paired with an eye-catching image, using some (or all) of these elements within your ad copy can help increase click-through rate on your single image ads.

2. Single video ad

Almost every placement within the Facebook Ad Manager now supports video ads. Recently, Facebook has even released new video watching experiences such as IGTV and Facebook Watch, all signaling the continued rise of video as an important medium on their platforms. Although videos may look differently within all the various placements available, here are the elements of all video ads:

Example of a Facebook video ad.

Ad elements:

  • Vertical or horizontal video (with a recommended aspect ratio of 1:1 or 16:9)
  • Text that appears above the ad
  • Bolded headline below the image to grab attention
  • A Display URL that is featured above the headline (typically, your brand’s domain name)
  • A Destination URL to the relevant landing page for the ad
  • News Feed link description to expand on the headline—this is optional
  • Call to action (e.g. Shop now, Learn More)

The emphasis Facebook has recently put on video is also good news for advertisers—videos provide one of the best opportunities to sell your product.

With up to 60 seconds on the Facebook and Instagram Feed, and 15 seconds on Instagram stories, videos can demonstrate a product’s value and highlight multiple reasons to buy, all within a single ad. A video ad can be especially effective in the following cases.

Products that need demonstration

Demonstrating a product through Facebook ads.

If your product’s unique value cannot be communicated with a photo alone, a video can show off how it works and why it’s helpful for your customers.

This is especially useful if your product has multiple features and benefits. Highlighting one feature or benefit after another for a whole minute, or showing the product in a range of scenarios that speak to different use cases, will allow you to appeal to a more diverse group of customers.

Brand building

A Facebook ad used for brand building.

If your brand plays a pivotal role in attracting new customers, a Single Video Ad that tells your company’s story can be a handy way to sell your brand purpose before you sell your product.

Bombas uses the origin story of their company as a way to communicate their brand values to customers. If your business has a charitable component like Bombas, a video can be used to explain how your business has a positive impact on the world, which is a message that will resonate with certain customers.

Prospecting for potential customers

Another added benefit to using video on Facebook is the ability to retarget anyone who has watched 25, 50 or 100% of the video. This is why advertisers often use video as a prospecting tool to reach a large group of potential new customers before narrowing in on those who showed the most interest in the video.

3. Carousel ad

A carousel ad can contain multiple images, videos, or a combination of both, which makes it a useful “in-between” ad format. If your product requires more than just one image to demonstrate its value, but you don’t have the means to produce a long-form video ad, a carousel ad can serve as a stand-in.

Here is what’s included in a Carousel Ad:

Example of a Facebook carousel ad.

Ad elements:

  • Up to 10 square videos or images (with an aspect ratio of 1:1)
  • Text that appears above the ad
  • A Display URL that is featured above the headline to promote your website address (one per-image and optional, not used in the example above)
  • Bolded headline below the image to grab attention (one per-image)
  • Optional News Feed link description to expand on the headline (one per-image)
  • Call to action (e.g. Shop now, Learn More)

Carousel ads are a smart choice for the following scenarios.

Dynamic Product Ads

A Dynamic Product Ad uses the behaviors and interests of Facebook’s users to show them relevant products from your Facebook Product Catalogue in a carousel.

Dynamic Product Ads can help you reach new prospects by only showing them products relevant to their interests, which makes it a useful format for online stores that sell a wide variety of products that appeal to people with a wide range of needs.

Example of a Dynamic Product Ad on Facebook.

Dynamic Product Ads also enable you to retarget website visitors and only show them products or collections they previously viewed on your website, which mitigates the risk of showing them irrelevant content.

Showing a product on different body types

Different product types advertised on Facebook.

For an ecommerce store selling apparel, it can be hard to convert online shoppers who don’t have the opportunity to try something on before making a purchase. Shoppers are often left wondering how the product would look on their body type.

A carousel ad can effectively show the same product on various body types, sizes, skin tones, etc. This can be used to help answer questions about fit and relieve any uncertainties shoppers may have about buying the product.

Showcasing testimonials

Social proof is essential to effective marketing, and it becomes even more critical when winning over customers through social ads. If your brand has user-generated content like influencer photos or video reviews, putting them into a carousel can add a level of authenticity to your message.

Using testimonials to improve your Facebook ads.

Showcasing user-generated content in a carousel has the added bonus of making your ad feel organic within a user’s feed. Since most user-generated content is made using smartphones, your advertisement will fit into the platform in a more natural and engaging way.

When creating a carousel ad, Facebook automatically selects the option to show the best performing image in your carousel first. Unless the order of your images has an important narrative to them, you should let Facebook put your highest performing image first in order to increase conversions.

4. Collection ad

The collection ad is the newest format available, so you may not have seen many in your News Feed. However, collection ads hold a lot of potential for ecommerce brands with their ability to pair a Product Catalogue with an engaging video.

A collection ad can also feature a variety elements, including another new addition called Instant Experiences.

A collection ad on Facebook.

Ad elements:

  • Text that appears above the ad
  • A hero image or video (with a recommended aspect ratio of 1:1 or 16:9)
  • Collection images linked from your Facebook product catalogue
  • A customized Instant Experience (explained in further detail below)

If you’re wondering how to best use this new ad format, here are some good examples.

Creating a branded shopping experience

If your products gain value from your brand’s story, a collection ad can help you to increase brand awareness with a long-form video while still selling directly through the attached product catalogue.

Your product catalogue images may not do enough on their own to create interest and conversion, but when paired with a video that details your brand’s mission or purpose, the products can instill more value and meaning for the customer, leading to a higher conversion rate.

Using a single video to promote multiple products

Advertising multiple products on Facebook.

The second reason to use a collection ad is straightforward: If you have a photo or video ad that features multiple products, deciding which landing page to use can be tricky.

With collection ads, your video is paired with a product catalogue that links to multiple product pages. This opens up the option to run a video that shows off various products (like an unboxing video), and then link that video directly to the product to generate sales and optimize for purchase conversions.

Instant Experiences

In addition to the four formats mentioned above, Facebook has also rebranded what was formerly known as a Canvas ad and turned it into an ad extension called Instant Experiences.

Instant Experiences aren't a separate ad format, but rather an option you can select when creating your ad. They're an extension to your photo, video, carousel, or collection ad and open up when someone clicks on your ad’s call to action.

Instant Experience example on Facebook.
An example from TechCrunch. Collection Ad in Mobile (left), opened to Instant Experience (center), and then product landing page (right).

Instant Experiences function like a customizable landing page within Facebook or Instagram. You can build the Experience by choosing photos, text blocks, and various calls to action.

The best use for Instant Experiences is to A/B test distinct destinations, such as landing pages, to see how you can improve conversion rates from those clicking on your ads. The Instant Experience loads quickly, requires no code to build, and is mobile-friendly, making it a useful tool for testing different post-click messages on prospective customers.

If your product has a premium price, you may need to “pre-sell” a bit more before converting customers. This means you need to warm customers up to the idea of buying before driving them to a website or product page.

Since they allow you to share more information about a product’s features and benefits, Instant Experiences pair well with higher-priced products that have longer decision-making windows, like cars or mattresses.

Tools for creating your Facebook ads

Once you’re familiar with the various ad formats on Facebook, you'll want to explore the options that exist for creating different ads. Unlike traditional print or media advertising, Facebook advertising does not require a large production budget or long timeline.

Great advertising creative can be made inexpensively and with little experience using the following tools.


One of the best ways to start making videos is with your phone camera since it’s low-investment, and because low-fidelity content often performs better for social ads because it feels native to the platform. To edit a video ad using existing footage, there are plenty of free tools like Crello and Adobe Spark.

Facebook also recently introduced a tool in Ad Manager that converts still images into instant videos, giving you a variety of free video templates to choose from.


Free stock photography is also available within the Facebook Ad Manager platform, as well as on websites like Shopify’s Burst. When it comes to editing stock photos, Instagram’s native in-app filters can enhance the look of photos, while other free tools like Canva let you add text and graphic overlays to photos easily.


With Marketing in Shopify, you can also run effective Facebook Carousel ads without having to spend hours of fine-tuning countless settings in an ad manager.

Marketing in Shopify: Grow your business with Facebook and Google Ads

Marketing in Shopify.

Marketing in Shopify is a new place to help you create, launch, and measure campaigns. We’ve streamlined the process to make running a successful Facebook carousel ad or Google Smart Shopping campaign easier than ever.

Run your first campaign on Shopify

How to find more Facebook ad creative examples

A helpful first source of inspiration for your own creative is to look at ad examples that other brands are running.

Examples of real Facebook ad creative are now only a few clicks away—you can simply use the “Ads and Info” tab available on the Facebook page of any business or brand who’s actively using ads. This tab shows the ads a business is running in whichever countries they are advertising in.

Ads and Info available on a Facebook page.

Another tool for finding creative examples is the Turbo Ad Finder extension for Google Chrome. After you activate the extension and log into Facebook, all posts from your Newsfeed will be hidden except for the ads, which can save you a lot of time scrolling through your feed in search of ad inspiration.

If researching the creative used by competitors is important to your business, you may want to invest in a paid service such as Adplexity or AdEspresso. Paid services can help reveal which ads may be top-performers, as they often include the ability to see how long an ad has been running for or the number of views a video has received.

Creative will make or break your campaigns

Targeting on Facebook frequently commands the most attention from marketers. While targeting is a crucial part of your overall strategy, having good creative is almost always the determining factor for an ad’s success.

In order to get your creative right, you must understand the nuances of the Facebook platform, its family of apps like Instagram and Messenger, and the type of content that does well on it.

When in doubt, just remember the ads that perform best often feel organic to the platform, so the right level of polish is all you likely need to get your message across and encourage users to stop scrolling, pay attention, and engage with your ad.

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