An average of 3 billion users live on Facebook – from CEOs to students to consumers. And while the community is clearly there, from a marketing standpoint, connecting with them isn’t always easy.
It’s no longer enough for brands to just post on Facebook – especially those who are just starting out. Sure, you can put money into your efforts to get people to your Facebook Page and send them to your website, but that only works if you are smart.
One way to do just that is to create optimized Facebook ads for the right audience. Optimized ads can help you use your PPC budget wisely and get a positive return on your investment.
Are Facebook Ads Working?
Generally yes. After all, Facebook has the best targeting ability of any ad platform. If your target audience is on Facebook, there is a way to find them. Note, however, that the success of a Facebook ad depends on the strategy: how compelling the offer is, how appealing and “catchy” the images are, how effective the copy is, and how well the targeting is implemented.
What does optimized Facebook advertising actually look like? If you’re looking for best practices for a successful ad and inspiration examples, you’ve come to the right place.
Components of Successful Facebook Ads
1. It has a clear purpose.
Facebook advertising is a great tactic for your marketing strategy, but not as simple as paying Facebook and expecting customers and revenue in return. Instead, you need to create a clear ad strategy and understand exactly how each ad will work in support of your marketing goals.
That way, you can better measure success by keeping track of the important metrics, and you can even create better ads by choosing the most effective Facebook ad setup, including which Facebook ad target to use.
2. It’s visual.
Not only is visual content treated more favorably in the Facebook algorithm, but it is also more likely to be shared and stored than written content. The Lesson for Facebook Marketers? No matter what type of ad you’re creating, your image needs to be visually appealing.
3. It’s not text-heavy.
If you’re running a Facebook ad with a photo, make sure the text elements cover less than 20% of the image. Otherwise your ad won’t appear. Use a text overlay tool to check the ratio before going live with your ads.
4. It’s relevant.
Relevance is critical to success in using Facebook advertising. Remember, you are spending money every time someone shows or clicks your ad (depending on the settings you used). If you are running ads that are not relevant to your target audience, you are wasting your time and money and you are unlikely to succeed with any type of advertising.
Back in February 2015, Facebook launched a function on the Facebook advertising platform with which your ads are rated and a relevance rating is achieved that is similar to the ad rank in Google Ads. The more relevant your ad image, ad copy, and landing page are to your target audience, the higher your score – and the cheaper Facebook will treat your ads.
5. It contains an enticing value proposition.
A value proposition tells the reader why they should click on your ad to learn more about your product. How is your product or service different from others? Why should the viewer click your ad to see your website?
Your value proposition should be believable. For example, if you say you have the best sandwiches in the world, people won’t come to your business’s page, but you might offer a 20% discount. Or maybe adding some social evidence will help – something like “Sandwiches loved by over a million people every year! Try yours today and get 20% off your order with this coupon.”
6. It has a clear call to action.
A beautiful and relevant ad is great, but without a call-to-action (CTA), your viewer may not know what to do next. Add a CTA like “Buy Now and Save X%” or “Offer Ends Soon” and give your viewer a sense of urgency. Your CTA should encourage people to click your ad now.
The 3 main formats for Facebook ads (with examples)
Format 1: The display in the right column
This type of ad is the most traditional on Facebook. It is displayed on the right side of a user’s Facebook news feed. This is the first type of advertisement Facebook had and is still around today.
While newsfeed ads are likely to get higher engagement metrics due to their native advertising capabilities, don’t forget about ads in the right column. When using these ads, you’ll often see cheaper clicks and conversions. For an ad in the right column to be successful, it needs to be relevant, have a value proposition, have a good visual representation and a call to action. Let’s look at an example from Winc (formerly known as Club W):
Here’s what makes this ad great:
- It’s visual. The picture is clear, simple and appeals to all types of wine lovers.
- It’s relevant. This was mentioned in my wine obsessed colleague’s news feed. Do i have to say more? Two thumbs up on relevance.
- It contains an enticing value proposition. Three bottles for $ 19? What a bargain. They also attract the viewer with an added value: a discount on their first wine order.
- It has a strong call to action. The word “get” is a strong call-to-action and is used twice here. A time limit on this offer would have made it even stronger.
Format 2: The desktop news feed display
This type of ad appears right in a user’s news feed when they access Facebook on a desktop computer and looks more like native ads. In our experience, these ads have a higher engagement rate than those in the right column, but they can also be more expensive. These ads must follow organic Facebook post best practices and be both engaging and visual.
This is what an ad from Amazon looks like in the news feed on a desktop:
Here’s what makes this ad great:
- It’s visual. Not only is this image larger than the ad ad in the right column, it also uses warm colors, spaces, and directional lines that drew my gaze to the product featured.
- It’s relevant. As a mother cat, this offering is clearly tailored to my consumer needs.
- It contains an enticing value proposition. Amazon has advertised a self-cleaning litter box here, which is of tremendous value to any cat owner. In addition, the strong customer ratings were shared under a picture of the product. (Social proof, anyone?)
- It has a clear call to action. Amazon instructs me to click on their ad today. After that, the litter box deal will likely go away. “Now” is a strong CTA language that forces clicks.
Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad
Like the desktop newsfeed ad, this type of ad will appear in the user’s mobile newsfeed and appear like organic posts from people and pages they follow.
This is what a mobile newsfeed ad for the New York Times looks like:
Here’s what makes this ad great:
- It’s visual. The whimsical cartoon caught my eye as I flipped through a lot of text and photography on my mobile news feed. The non-traditional illustration drew me for a closer look at the content.
- It’s relevant. I’m a person in my 20s and have written about healthcare. This is an article that I definitely want to read, and it helps the ad appear like a native post promoting an article on my new feed.
- It contains an enticing value proposition. The ad shows me which of my Facebook friends also like and probably read the New York Times. This social evidence increases the likelihood that I will click and read the article.
- It has a clear call to action. This ad is used to increase the likes of the site. When I ask a question in the ad, the call to action makes me want to click the article to learn more.
Types of Facebook Ads and Some of the Best Examples of Facebook Ads
Now that we’ve looked at the three main ad formats, let’s look at a selection of the different types of post you can use.
1. The Facebook video ad
Video ads appear quite large in the user’s new feed and offer more engaging content than static posts. And with billions of videos viewed on Facebook every day, this is an interesting and potentially profitable type of ad for marketers to try.
Do you need inspiration? Check out this example from Key Jewlers below:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. Although this is a video, I have a general idea of what I’m about to see thanks to the screen capture it started with. Also, I can understand the gist of this ad without playing with the sound on. This is important as 83% of the videos on Facebook are now viewed with no sound.
- It’s relevant. It’s relevant to me because I recently scoured jewelry websites, specifically for necklaces like the one in the ad.
- It is valuable. Kay shows prospects the value of the purchase based on the happy reaction of the woman receiving the gift in the ad. And who doesn’t love dogs?
- It has a solid call to action. This ad is set up to promote page likes. It’s an easy way to provide more relevant content for me with one click.
How can you create your own video ad? First, understand the requirements for Facebook video ads, including length and video size. We recommend keeping your video as short as possible, although Facebook allows you to upload a much larger video.
2. The photo display
Another type of rich media advertising on Facebook is posting a picture. This has been one of the most popular types of ads since Facebook preferred visual content. The best size for News Feed photo ads is 1200 x 628 pixels. Otherwise your picture will be cropped. Customize your image to suit the needs of the target audience and what appeals to them most.
Here is an example of a photo ad from NatureBox:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. The picture shows you exactly what you are getting and it does a good job of calling up the “free sample” CTA.
- It’s relevant. Everyone likes snacks. In all seriousness the person who saw this is a fan of several lifestyle subscription companies of what NatureBox is.
- It is valuable. This ad is full of value. First, the “Free Trial” callout is the first thing your eyes see when you look at the image. Second, the healthy aspects of the goodies in his product are clearly mentioned.
- It has a clear call to action. Nature Box invites you to try the free sample. Knowing your next step couldn’t be easier.
3. The link Click Display
One of the most common ad goals is to increase traffic to an external website (outside of Facebook). You can do this through a link click ad.
By including a Get Actions button in the ad, you can generate link clicks to a destination you specify, often a landing page on your website. Paired with a compelling offer and interesting images, you can achieve lower cost per click (CPC) than other types of advertising as well as an excellent click rate.
Here is an example of a link-click ad from Fragrant Jewels:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. While it’s technically a link-click ad, Fragrant Jewels used a video to showcase the product and then make the offer (click below to crack the egg). The video contained fascinating images, including this attention-grabbing dragon egg in dynamic blues.
- It’s convincing. The egg itself gives a sense of mystery. What is inside?
- It has a clear call to action. Fragrant Jewels uses the image to showcase drama and intrigue, but also clearly leads the audience to click the button. Audiences will happily “learn more” to crack the egg.
- It is valuable. In addition to the egg gimmick, the ad also has an offer: 26% off and free shipping. If the products in the video are of interest to the audience, this offering provides more indolence to the subject of the video and the action it requires of them.
4. The multi-product display
Multi-product ads allow advertisers to present multiple products in one ad. Viewers can scroll through the images and click on individual links for each product. You can promote several of everything, not just products – like various blog posts, e-books, or webinars.
Here is an example of an ad that featured multiple Shutterfly products, plus the additional images used in the ad. Each image has a different offering to address many different demographics in an ad.
Why this works:
- It’s visual. This series of images is displayed on a consistent color palette so it feels both cohesive and branded. (Having a cute cat doesn’t hurt either.)
- It’s relevant. The person who saw this loves taking pictures and creating sentimental gifts. Exactly right, right?
- It is valuable. There is a very clear value for the user, 40% off each of the products advertised. The code and end date of the sale are also included in the ad description. This ad also has added value. It shows the many different ways people can use Shutterfly in ways that many may not be aware of.
- It has a clear call to action. I know I must take advantage of this before February 17th when this deal expires so I would be encouraged to take action immediately.
5. The local display
Local ads on Facebook will only work if your business has a physical location that you want to drive real pedestrian traffic to. If you fall into this category, locally-targeted Facebook ads might be a great choice for you as you can hyper-target to the mile on Facebook.
If your company has a deal or event going on in your store, set up some Facebook ads that will only show to people near your store. Have these ads appear a few days before the event and on mobile devices while the event is taking place. On the day of the event, you may want to reach out to some people who happen to be nearby and check their Facebook accounts on their smartphones.
Take this ad from Mizzou Campus Dining, for example:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. This image has college pride, a variety of salty and sweet treats, and a well-known logo to attract hungry college students.
- It’s relevant. This ad is likely to only be shown to students on campus who are in the target audience. It also mentions the sports game that was taking place at the time and it is tailored to the student’s current needs: snacks and subway sandwiches.
- It is valuable. Mizzou Market tells hungry college students it has everything students need for the big game.
- It has a clear call to action. This display provides the ability to show driving directions so that a student on the move can easily follow directions to that market.
6. The offer display
An offer ad is a newer form of Facebook advertising that allows a company to offer a discount on a product or service that can be redeemed on Facebook. The benefit of it? There is no step on the buyer’s path, which ultimately increases sales.
The offer display has many advantages. First, it leads the user straight to the offer. The user claims it directly on Facebook, thus eliminating the extra friction of having to go to your website for the offer. You can also reach any audience you want as all Facebook targeting options are possible.
Finally, you can provide all the information the user needs to decide whether they want it or not, including the length of time it can be used, the number of people who have already claimed it and the exact amount of the Offer. This avoids unqualified clicks that cost you money.
Here is an example of a listing for the Boston Sports Club:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. The photo shown uses bold colors and clear typography to draw my attention to the details of the listing and the woman who works out gives me an idea of what I might gain by buying the listing.
- It’s relevant. I recently moved to Boston and searched online for gyms near me. Therefore, this ad is highly relevant to my recent Facebook and search activity.
- It is valuable. Paying $ 5 for a monthly gym membership is a lot. Even if the price could rise in the future, the low price definitely makes me want to click.
- It has a clear call to action. The CTA emphasizes that the discount offer is limited and should be taken quickly with the word “hurry” to let me know when the offer is about to expire.
7. The Event Viewer
Event ads promote a specific event. Der CTA für diese Anzeigen sendet Benutzer normalerweise direkt zur Ticketkaufseite, wo immer dies gerade gehostet wird.
Die Verwendung dieser Art von Anzeige hilft dabei, eine Zielgruppe von Personen zur Teilnahme an Ihrer Veranstaltung zu bewegen. Diese werden im Newsfeed der von Ihnen ausgewählten Zielgruppe angezeigt. Veranstaltungen sind ein großer Teil der meisten Unternehmen, aber es kann schwierig sein, Menschen dazu zu bringen, auch nur an einer kleinen Veranstaltung teilzunehmen. Wenn Sie Ihre Veranstaltung auf Facebook einem bestimmten Zielpublikum vorstellen, können Sie die richtigen Teilnehmer gewinnen.
Eine gute Anzeige in diesem Format zeigt deutlich den Vorteil der Teilnahme an der Veranstaltung: den Preis, die Daten und einen eindeutigen CTA für den Kauf eines Tickets. Die unten stehende Veranstaltungsanzeige für das Tortuga Music Festival zeigt Datum und Uhrzeit sowie die Bands an, die spielen:
Warum das funktioniert:
- Es ist visuell. Allein das Bild sagt mehr als tausend Worte darüber, wie viel Spaß dieses Konzert machen würde. Es ist nicht nur am Strand, es wurde auch an einem wunderschönen Tag aufgenommen und die Bühne sieht fantastisch aus. Außerdem stellt es klar dar, was Sie während der Veranstaltung erwartet, und es fällt auf, wenn jemand durch seinen Newsfeed blättert. (Das schöne Meerwasser hilft definitiv.)
- Es ist relevant. Die Person, die diese Anzeige gesehen hat, ist ein Fan von Kenny Chesney und war schon einmal bei seinen Konzerten. Sie kommen auch ursprünglich aus Florida, wo diese Veranstaltung stattfindet.
- Es ist wertvoll. Da das Bild an einem schönen Tag aufgenommen wurde, scheint es ein idealer Ort zu sein – besonders für diejenigen von uns, die es von unseren Bürotischen aus betrachten. Außerdem werden Ihnen die Kosten des Tickets klar angezeigt, damit Sie wissen, bevor Sie auf klicken. (Dies ist auch gut für den Werbetreibenden: Durch die Angabe des Preises können sich die Nutzer anhand der Anzeige selbst auswählen, ob sie sich das Ticket leisten können. Wenn sie es sich nicht leisten können, klicken sie sich nicht durch und sparen so den Werbetreibenden Geld für unqualifizierte Klicks.)
- Es hat einen klaren Aufruf zum Handeln. Der CTA ist klar: “Kaufen.” Die Werbetreibenden fügen außerdem eine dringende Formulierung mit dem Titel „Die Zeit läuft ab!“ Hinzu und ermutigen Sie, Ihr Ticket jetzt zu kaufen, bevor es zu spät ist.
8. Die Retargeting-Anzeige
Eine Retargeting-Anzeige bewirbt eine Anzeige in einer bestimmten Liste zuvor identifizierter Personen. Haben Sie jemals Anzeigen gesehen, die Ihnen nach dem Besuch einer bestimmten Website im Internet gefolgt sind? Dann haben Sie eine Retargeting-Anzeige gesehen.
Facebook hat die gleiche Fähigkeit. Ein Werbetreibender kann für eine Liste von Leads oder Kunden werben, indem er eine Liste von E-Mail-Adressen hochlädt, die er bereits für eine benutzerdefinierte Zielgruppe benötigt. Eine gute Retargeting-Anzeige bestätigt, dass die Marke weiß, dass Sie bereits an ihrem Produkt interessiert sind. (Weil, seien wir ehrlich … Retargeting kann ein bisschen gruselig sein.)
Letzte Woche habe ich angefangen, ein Brautjungfernkleid für eine bevorstehende Hochzeit zu kaufen. Heute erschien diese Anzeige in meinem Newsfeed:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. The image gives me a good idea of what to expect from the designer’s website, and it definitely helps that the gowns are both unique and stunning. Talk about a showstopper.
- It’s relevant. The ad called out that I was already shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and what’s more, I had previously looked at dresses on this exact website, so this ad is highly relevant to my search.
- It’s valuable. The variety of dresses in the ad’s image and in the description make this website worth a visit for someone trying to find the perfect gown out of thousands of options.
- It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is “Shop Now,” which encourages me to click to purchase the beautiful dresses in the ad’s image.
9. The Dynamic Product Ad
Speaking of retargeting ads that seem to “follow you around,” dynamic product ads do this at another level. Have you ever visited a product page and then thought, “Well, now’s not the right time?” and then left? Fact of the matter is that we’re not going to win every buyer on their first impression with us, so the key is to stay top of mind until they time is actually right.
Dynamic product ads are a form of the multi-product ad… with a twist: The ad will auto-populate items based on the audience’s past interactions with your website. This may include things they left in the cart or even items of a similar type. For example, here’s an ad from Etsy advertising products based on my browsing preferences:
Why this works:
- It’s relevant. Etsy is saying “We know your taste, and you can find products that match it here.”
- It’s valuable. The prices are clearly displayed, and the ad even alludes that there’s more to be found “at a wide range of price points” if the ones on this ad aren’t compelling.
- It’s visual. All items in the carousel have professional photography and a similar color scheme. The uniqueness of the items also draws the eye.
- It has a clear call-to-action. “Shop Now” is an invitation to find out what products they have in their marketplace, and it’s not an overly salesy CTA. After all, who doesn’t love to shop?
10. The Boosted Post
A boosted post is an organic Facebook post that was originally on the homepage of a company’s Facebook, and that later was boosted with advertising money.
This is different from the above ads because it’s not created in the Facebook Ads Manager. You can include more in the description, as there is no limit to word count on boosted posts like there is in ads. You can also have a link in the copy.
The cons? Boosted posts leave you fewer options for bidding, targeting, and pricing. You also cannot run any types of A/B tests because you’re promoting a post that’s already been creating, not creating one from scratch.
Here’s an example of a boosted post from Bustle, who promoted one of its articles on Facebook:
Why this works:
- It’s visual. Lots of people are familiar with the Amazon Prime logo, but not in neon lights in a window display. It made me do a double-take while scrolling through Facebook.
- It’s relevant. As we’ve already learned from earlier examples, I like shopping on Amazon and also read Bustle, so this article is a combination of those two behaviors.
- It’s valuable. “Brilliant” is a strong adjective to describe products, which makes me curious to learn more about purchasing them.
- It has a clear call-to-action. The ad entices me with information about useful and “brilliant” gadgets I can get delivered to my door within two days, which I’m happy to click to learn more about.
There you have it: A list of all the different types of Facebook posts and a few examples of awesome ones from all different brands. The Facebook Ads Manager platform will walk you through how to set these up with simple, step-by-step instructions — so don’t feel overwhelmed.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.