12 Types of Facebook Ads: A Quick Guide

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Facebook advertising is one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience. Boasting nearly 3 billion monthly active users, the social media site gathers nearly half of the planet’s population in one place. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

However, as a marketer, it’s likely that only a relative handful of those 3 billion people will want or need your product. Trying to advertise to all of them just means throwing your dollars down the drain for a pittance of a return.

That’s where Facebook’s uniquely in-depth marketing tools come in handy. The social media site was one of the first to truly capitalize on audience segmentation to the nth degree. 

If you want to sell purple Sherpa blankets to women who ride horses while wearing 1850s-style bonnets and playing the ukulele, well, Facebook will make it happen.

This level of segmentation is both successful and makes for funny imagery. But to get the best results, you don’t just need the right audience – you need the right ads, too. That’s why it’s essential to understand the various types of Facebook ads available to you before you jump in!

Fortunately, we’re here to help you get started with our handy Facebook ads guide.

12 Types of Facebook Ads to Use as a Digital Marketer

There are over a dozen types of Facebook ads built into the social media site. Today, we’re going to cover some of the best Facebook ad types and formats to help you get a solid head start. 

1. Image Ads

Facebook image ads, or photo ads, are what they sound like: an image that plugs your product for you. Depending on your preferences, you can create a dedicated image ad or use boosted posts to gain more exposure.

Image ads are a popular (and effective) Facebook ad format because the human eye is naturally drawn to imagery. Bright or contrasting colors and interesting compositions can drive higher engagements and conversions, no matter your niche.

Fortunately, single-image ads are also some of the simplest Facebook ads to create. Start with your concept or image, then pair it with clever copy and a clear CTA. Best of all, Facebook Ads Manager lets you plaster these ads nearly everywhere on Facebook and Instagram, making them ideal for meeting almost any Facebook marketing goal. 

2. Video Ads

Facebook research has found that people spend about five times longer on videos than “static” content like text or images. That’s doubly true in the era of Reels, where users can (and do) scroll through countless hours of video in their spare time.

As a marketer, that makes this Facebook video ad format a prime delivery vehicle for your top content, such as showing off a product or revealing your team in action. You can even turn GIDs or animations to draw attention and put a clever twist on the phrase “motion picture.”

Each of these methods is a great way to increase engagement, drive conversions, and expand your brand’s reach.

You can run Facebook video ads as in-stream advertisements on longer Facebook videos, or populate the News Feed and Stories with video content. However, bear in mind that video content tends to be costlier and more complicated to produce at scale.

3. Stories Ads

Facebook Stories are vertical, full-screen videos or images that disappear just 24 hours after they’re published (unless you save them). While Instagram Stories are more well-known, Facebook Stories offer marketers an easy way to connect with consumers.

Bear in mind that Stories can’t be created as a standalone Facebook advertising avenue using Ads Manager. Instead, you have to select the Stories option under “Automatic Placements.”

Additionally, you’re limited to a smaller range of Facebook ad objectives – namely:

  • App installs
  • Conversions
  • Video views
  • Brand local awareness
  • And leads generation

Done well, research shows that Facebook Stories make incredibly effective marketing vehicles. For instance, in 2018, more than half of people who used Stories reported making more online purchases. Another 73% said that Stories helped them explore and experience new things. Stories ads can also drive website traffic, increase product interest, and are great for storytelling on Facebook!

4. Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads, dubbed “video-like ads,” bundle image and video advertisements into a single medium. This Facebook ad type is ideal for marketers who require lower-effort ad formats that produce high-quality results.

Essentially, each slideshow video ad lets you create short videos, or slideshows, using a collection of existing images or video clips. In doing so, you enhance your engagement potential with eye-catching motion, flashes of color, and overarching text.

Slideshow ads are useful because they slash production costs while still producing conversion-driving results.

Because of their l0w-bandwidth ad format, they’re also great for marketers whose target audience may have poorer internet connections.

You can even use slideshow ads to combine your best-performing Facebook ad campaigns into a single “mega campaign,” complete with catchy music.

5. Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are similar to slideshow ads but more interactive.

With carousel ads, you upload anywhere from 2 to 10 images or videos into your campaign. Then, you overlay them with text and one of 18 built-in CTAs to drive conversions.

When users come across your ads, they swipe through the contents like a carousel – hence the name, carousel ad.

Carousel ads are useful for drawing in customer engagement while also raising brand awareness. Each slide can carry unique images and links, so you can examine one product in-depth, promote multiple products, or even explore an entire product line.

Carousel ads work in both mobile and desktop mode, though they’re optimized for mobile browsing behaviors. Additionally, you can set the order yourself or let Facebook’s expert marketing algorithms optimize the order to drive conversions.

6. Instant Experience Ads

Instant Experience ads – formerly Canvas ads – are full-screen, mobile-only ads that rely on a phone’s vertical formatting.

Instant Experience ads are designed to capture an audience’s attention well…instantly. They’re quick-paced and boast lightning loading times (up to 15x faster than standard pages), ensuring that you won’t lose customers to a poor connection.

Instant Experience ads pair multiple formats (like videos and carousels) to capitalize on your best campaigns. This multimedia approach catches users’ attention while providing value through images, texts, tagged products, and more.

You can repurpose existing Facebook ad formats, so you don’t have to start from scratch. Better yet, you can even link multiple Instant Experiences together to ensure consumers receive the most bang for their buck.

The result is a highly engaging Facebook ad type that literally immerses users in your brand to drive conversions. Facebook also lets you insert Instant Form templates to capture leads and contact information for your email marketing service.

7. Collection Ads

Collection ads are hybrid ad formats that blend up to five videos, images, or slideshows into one package. As an eCommerce-focused ad type, their goal is to convert Facebook users into online buyers.

The mobile-only ad format is perfect for increasing engagement, traffic, and conversions all at once. Not only that, but when paired with an Instant Experience, each collection ad stands to boost your profit potential.

Collection ads even allow users to purchase products right on Facebook, simplifying the shopping process and reducing abandoned cart rates.

8. Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads link your brand’s product catalog directly to Facebook using Pixel technology. (Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code – like a cookie – that tracks users between your website and Facebook.)

With dynamic ads, when someone moves from your website to Facebook, your content will pop up in their feed featuring the same products they explored on your site.

Typically, dynamic product ads appear in carousel ad format, allowing you to represent a targeted collection of products. You can also apply custom audiences and even languages, so even if your copy is the same between ads, the creative element will be 100% unique.

Currently, Facebook permits marketers to optimize dynamic ads for four types of audience behaviors. This level of relevancy increases the likelihood that a particular Facebook user will become a customer. (As you might imagine, they’re particularly effective for improving abandoned cart rates.)

However, dynamic product ads are one of the segments that have taken a beating since the controversial iOS privacy update. As a result, some effectiveness may be diminished while Facebook reconfigures its strategy.

9. Lead Ads

Facebook lead form ads are unique because they’re not designed to advertise a product. Instead, they advertise you by asking customers if they’d like to sign up for your newsletters and events. In other words, they do exactly what they say: make collecting leads incredibly easy.

When a Facebook user clicks a lead ad, a pop-up appears that provides information about your brand. You can use these pop-ups – or context cards – to explain your business and the value you provide. You can even flip the script and let users ask you questions for a change.  

If a user signs up, Facebook pre-fills as much information as possible, increasing the likelihood that you’ll capture the lead. One exception is customized questions, which you can insert before launching the campaign to gather more specific information. This information then feeds into any databases and prebuilt workflows you have, like your email subscriber list.

Note that Facebook lead generation ads are only available for mobile devices at this time.

10.  Facebook Polls Ads

Facebook poll ads are mobile-only interactive ads that coax Facebook users into engaging with your brand.

Think of poll ads as a neat party trick to spread brand awareness while gathering crucial market research. You can attach these dual-option polls to images or video ads to ask targeted questions of your audience or boost engagement.

Each participant will see the tallied responses to the poll, further building a sense of community around your brand. 

11.  Messenger Ads

Over 1.3 billion people use Messenger monthly, making it an ideal avenue to target your audience. And with Facebook Messenger ads, you can do just that, blasting your brand straight into users’ inboxes.

Alternatively, you can use click-to-Messenger ads in Facebook’s main feed that opens a Messenger conversation with your brand’s Facebook page.

Facebook Messenger ads offer various formatting options, including videos, carousels, or even dynamic ads. You can take advantage of Automatic Placements to populate your ads where they’re most likely to be effective at lower costs.

Because Messenger ads open a direct line of communication between marketers and consumers, they’re great for increasing engagement. You can also use them as an opportunity to gather feedback or answer user questions about your brand.

12.  Augmented Reality Ads

Augmented reality ads are just one way that Facebook parent Meta is meshing the metaverse with social media. These highly interactive, incredibly immersive ads are only available on mobile devices and optimized for camera users.

Essentially, when a user opens your augmented reality ad, their screen will reflect hotspots and a set of instructions. Users who follow those instructions will delve into the augmented reality experience, which varies between ads. Think of it like in-person shopping in a digital medium.

Some ads permit users to explore products from new angles or virtually “try them on.” For example, a sunglasses brand may encourage using the camera to see how a pair of glasses would fit a user’s face. You can even permit users to take and upload selfies to social media, activating a kind of “pre-customer” marketing.

In the future, it’s likely that this kind of augmented reality will become more common and less novel. But for now, it’s a rather unique marketing format that spreads brand awareness while increasing consumer engagement.

7 Tips for a Great Facebook Ad

Knowing which types of Facebook ads you can choose from is only half the battle. To kickstart a great campaign, you must know how to capitalize on Facebook’s platform. Given its size and complexity, that’s easier said than done.

1. Know How to Launch Your Facebook Ad

Facebook is, quite frankly, enormous, offering multiple ways to interact with the site as an advertiser. That means your crucial first step is learning where to launch your campaign.

To start, some ads require you to set up a Business Page and use the Facebook Ads Manager. Others let you design campaigns using the Facebook Ads API. And some of the simpler ads launch right from your Facebook page, providing an easy, budget-friendly alternative.

2. Choose the Right Objective for Each Facebook Ad

Facebook Ads Manager lets you choose from 11 different Facebook ad objectives, like:

  • Raising brand awareness
  • Boosting traffic
  • Increasing engagement
  • Improving app installs
  • Obtaining video views
  • Generating new leads
  • And driving conversions, to name a few

In many cases, the kind of ad you design depends on the objective you choose. (For instance, you can’t obtain video views if your ad doesn’t contain a video.) Additionally, if you choose the wrong objective for your target audience, you’re less likely to see the results you want.

3. Target Your Audience

The real thrust behind Facebook ads’ effectiveness is their extreme segmentation abilities. While our Sherpa-wearing, ukulele-playing horse rider is a funny image, that level of targeting isn’t exactly a joke. Facebook allows you to segment your audience by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Language
  • City population
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Employment (or lack thereof)
  • Previous interactions with your brand
  • Friends of people who’ve previously interacted with your brand

And it’s not just the affirmatives. You can also exclude people based on whether they do (or don’t) meet these criteria.

4. Consider Your Facebook Ad Placements

Where you place your ads is a crucial component of the success they can achieve.

One method is to place each ad yourself. Your options will likely vary based on your Facebook ad objectives but generally include:

  • By platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger only, or all of the above
  • By operating systems, like Android, iOS, or all devices
  • By device types, such as mobile, desktop, or both
  • By onsite placement, like Feeds, in-video, Stories, messages, and in-article

Alternatively, you can select Facebook’s Automatic Placement feature. This tool plasters your ads where they’re likely to see the best results at the best price.

5. Know Your Facebook Ad Type Specifications

Each type of Facebook ad campaign comes with a set list of specifications to meet to be approved and find success. These specifications may include image size, video length, caption length, or the amount of text overlaying an image. (Meta offers more comprehensive lists here, divided by the types of Facebook ads you can publish.)

Failing to meet these specifications could see your ad bouncing back before publication. Even if that doesn’t happen, blurry images, too much text, or failing to lay captions over your video can all reduce your conversion potential. That’s your money swirling down the drain.

6. A/B Split Test Each New Facebook Ad Campaign

Facebook offers built-in A/B split testing tools to compare how various ad versions fare against each other. This provides an invaluable opportunity to gather information on how your ideal audience responds to your campaigns. Because best practices for Facebook ads change with time and across industries, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with repeated testing.

Facebook advertising has a ton of tools and ad types to help your next campaign. Here's a guide to the 12 types of Facebook ads and tips on how to use them!

7. Track and Optimize Your Performance

Facebook research suggests that testing and trialing is the best way to lower your advertising costs while increasing profitability.

If you don’t monitor your campaigns in the Facebook Ads Manager dashboard, it’s impossible to numerically measure your success. With solid tracking and a few tweaks, you can build your Facebook ad conversion success naturally over time.

Key Takeaways: Facebook Ad Types for all Social Media Marketers

As a marketer, where, when, and how you market to your target audience makes all the difference. 

The same is true of different Facebook ad types. 

Picking the wrong medium, place, or even image can mean the difference between a successful Facebook campaign and wasting your money! Hopefully, this guide helps you get started with the perfect Facebook ad for your purpose.

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