Understanding Facebook and Instagram Ad Types

Sophia Pollock
By Sophia Pollock

As Facebook continues to update its algorithm to help maintain a better user experience, it’s important to explore the different ads you can run and how they can help you to maintain your objectives. Depending on the goal of your campaign certain ad types may work better than others.

Photo

How does it work? A photo ad is a static image ad that is 1200×628 in size. Unless you are advertising on Instagram then you will have flexibility in terms of sizing but the recommended ad size for Instagram is a 1:1 ratio. This ad type includes an option to include a link. This means it is intended to traffic to your website.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This ad type is incredibly versatile and can be a great fit for campaigns with many different objectives. Some of the campaigns you can use this for include: brand awareness, lead generation and conversion campaigns.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type is by far the easiest to create. You don’t need to be a photoshop savant to create a 1200×628 image. You can even crop some imagery in the Facebook platform. If you are more interested in incorporating design, this ad type is still a viable option

What are the limitations with this ad type? Because this ad type is limited to one static image, it means that you have to be able to convey the goal of the campaign in one image. Sometimes it can be difficult to engage an audience with just one image when their feed is so cluttered with posts. If you’re interested in creating a more engaging advertisement, keep reading because there are some ad types that you will want to know about.

Related: Breaking Down the Key Mobile Ad Types 

Video

How does it work? Video ads allow you to incorporate video content in your ad. This could be something as simple as a moving graphic or as detailed as an explainer video.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This ad type is great for brand awareness, when users are unfamiliar with your brand it can be extremely helpful to provide them with some context about your brand. By using video you are able to tell the user so much more than what you would be able to do with a simple static image. Plus, Facebook has indicated that they are starting to favor video because it helps create a more engaging experience for users. Be sure to keep in mind when running a video on Instagram you are limited to 60 seconds.

What are the benefits of this ad type? Not only do you get preference from Facebook, you also have a unique opportunity to retarget based on the amount of your video they viewed. Often times, people may watch a video all the way through and feel familiar with your brand but still not click to your site because they aren’t ready to leave the Facebook platform. By retargeting video viewers, you ensure you are not missing out on a valuable audience just because they haven’t been to your site yet.

What are the limitations with this ad type? It takes more work, not every advertiser has the resources to create quality video content. Just because Facebook is giving preference to serving video content to users, this doesn’t mean you should throw together the first video you can find and start advertising. You need to make sure you’re telling the users a story and highlighting the way your product or service provides them with a solution.

Carousel

How does it work? A carousel ad is an advertisement that features four to ten square (1:1) images that users can scroll through. Each of the images can have its own unique link, link description, and headline.

What kind of campaign is it good for? Carousel ads are efficient for a variety of different objectives. Depending on the creative you choose you can use this ad type to, tell your brand’s story with a brand awareness objective or focus on driving revenue with a conversion objective.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type is relatively easy to build but if you want you can also design elaborate creative to entice users to scroll through the variety of images.

What are the limitations with this ad type? This ad type requires you to come up with a variety of imagery and is best for brands with multiple products or offerings.

Dynamic Product Ad

How does it work? Much like the carousel ad this advertisement features four to ten square images. The key difference is that this ad type syncs with your product feed so that it will dynamically serve users an advertisement featuring the exact products they were looking at or added to cart. You can still customize the top text but it will dynamically pull in the product name, description and link. You can also select the option for Facebook to pull in product suggestions based on the users past shopping habits.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This type of ad is best for bottom of the funnel campaigns. You can retarget users who have added items to their cart and encourage them to return to the site to complete their purchase. Because this ad variation is so heavily product oriented it may be less effective for cold traffic or users who are unfamiliar with your brand.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type takes the guesswork out of what the user is interested in. By dynamically pulling the products they were looking at it ensures that users are served hyper specific ads that fit their interests.

What are the limitations with this ad type? Less customization. With the Facebook engine dynamically including your headline, imagery, and link description you have less freedom when it comes to creative and messaging. Audience options, these ads are most effective with retargeting audiences. You can use this ad type when targeting cold traffic. In this scenario, Facebook will compile product suggestions based on the user’s interests and purchase behavior. Thus far, there have yet to be significant results for this ad type and cold traffic. For the time being, it is best for bottom of the funnel advertising.

Slideshow

How does it work? Slideshow ads are 1200×628 ads that incorporate multiple images to create a slideshow. Essentially it falls between being a single image ad and a video ad. This easy to use ad type allows you to incorporate movement but is far easier to create than a full blown video ad.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This ad type is great for a variety of different campaigns. You can use it at any stage in the marketing funnel, especially in situations when you want to display several different products or types of imagery.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type is extremely easy to create. Facebook provides you with everything you need to put a slideshow together in the engine, all you have to do is upload your images.

What are the limitations with this ad type? Because you create the slideshow in Facebook, you may be limited in terms of what you can create. If you want to get more specific or incorporate more than just a few images with transitions, you may want to try the video ad type instead.

Related: How to Optimize Facebook Ads

Collection

How does it work? Facebook refers to collection ads as a “seamless browsing experience.” As people continue to spend more time on their mobile instead of desktop, it’s important to create ad experiences that resolve well on mobile. This allows users to browse multiple products and brands to tell their story without ever leaving the Facebook platform. You can use a variety of creative, including video and still images to create a unique advertisement. This far and away one of the most versatile ad types in terms of creative and campaign objective.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This ad type is effective for nearly any kind of ad objective. You can use it acquire new customers, sell products in a direct fashion or feature products and services in a lifestyle oriented manner.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type gives brands a great deal of creative control and provides users with an engaging experience beyond the capabilities of some of the other ad types. You can give users that online shopping experience without ever having to leave the Facebook platform. They can click through and view a variety of products or images. It’s a great way to provide the user with a more engaging and immersive experience. Again, you don’t have to be a photoshop wiz or designer to use this ad type. It can be as simple as collecting some product or influencer images and uploading them into the platform. If you are skilled in design you can leverage this ad type to your advantage as well.

What are the limitations with this ad type? You have to have a variety of content to include. If your product offering is limited you may have a hard time coming up with enough images to include to make the advertisement complete. Additionally, you will have to think about the persona of who you are targeting and tailor the images to their perceived interests. If you can’t ensure that all of the images work well when displayed together, you may have a hard time getting strong performance out of this ad type.

Messenger

How does it work? This placement shows up as a sponsored ad in users home screen of the messenger app. Facebook has positioned this ad type as being more personalized to the user experience. It also allows users to respond to the ad, as they would a message in their inbox. Facebook recommends using this placement in conjunction with the “Auto-Placements” feature, meaning that your ad will appear in the following places: instagram feed, Facebook feed, Facebook sidebar, and the audience network.

What kind of campaign is it good for?  If you have a campaign that’s highly targeted to a group of loyal customers, this ad type could be effective because the messenger app feels much more personal than newsfeed advertisements. You could also use this as an opportunity to offer the user some kind of discount.

What are the benefits of this ad type? Users are likely to be more aware and actively involved when they are in the messenger app. This means you have a better chance at capturing their undivided attention than some of the other ad types.

What are the limitations with this ad type? Many people feel that this ad type is an invasion of privacy and that Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to advertise to you in the messenger app. Another fallback is that although Facebook highly encourages users to have the messenger app, not all users have it which means you could be missing out on an opportunity to capitalize on the full reach of your audience.

Related: Which Social Advertising Channels Should You Invest In?

Story Ads

How does it work? Story ads work much like a regular Instagram story, except there is a call to action where the user can swipe up. This usually includes a shop now or learn more CTA. Unlike the other ad types, this ad uses only video/imagery and does not have options for copy.

What kind of campaign is it good for? This ad type is great for awareness campaigns, especially when you have highly visual content that resolves better in fullscreen experience. This is great for a video campaign or as a supplement to a campaign on another platform. For example, you could resize the video from a traditional commercial spot to fit the size requirements and run it as an Instagram story as well.

What are the benefits of this ad type? This ad type has the ability to capture the user’s undivided attention with a fullscreen experience. It also integrates with the app experience in a way that doesn’t disruptive. This ad type is still relatively new and because of this, it is not as saturated with advertisements.

What are the limitations with this ad type? You need to have some photoshop or editing skills if you want to include text. This ad type requires a bit more creativity because static images tend to not be as effective.

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As a Paid Social Project Manager, Sophia works directly with clients to grow their social presence and increase ROI. She is passionate about helping brands tell their story in an engaging and authentic way. Outside of the office she loves spending time outdoors and exploring everything Southern California has to offer.