September 14, 2018

Complete Guide to Facebook Ad Types and Goals

Facebook is far from being on the way out. Even through the #DeleteFacebook movement and a subsequent drop in market value, Facebook has continued to grow its user base and remains the most popular social network worldwide. (If you still need convincing, read our recent article on why social media advertising has never been better.)

This is not only the age of digital — it is the age of inbound marketing. With the amount of data floating around the internet, there is no excuse to not be creating content that engages and delights target audiences. Social media advertising allows brands to meet their ideal customers where they are.

With the use of templates, stock photography, and free audio options it has never been easier to create and place ads on Facebook. However, easy ads aren’t usually high-performing ads. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, it’s very easy to miss the mark with your audience no matter what metric you are measuring. And it shows in the masses of brands and businesses who haven’t been able to achieve success with Facebook ads in the past.

But, you’re in luck! We’re letting you in on some of our secrets when it comes to Facebook ads. Here’s how to start getting the most out of your Facebook ad spend.

Navigating the Plethora of Facebook Ad Types

There is no lack of options when it comes to advertising on Facebook. Did you know that you can create ads for Messenger? Not to mention that you can choose for ads to also appear on Instagram and the Audience Network. With the digital space evolving each and every day and offering more and more options, where do you start?

Pin Down the Goal

The best way to make the right choice when you are presented with a sea of shiny ad options is to pin down your marketing goal. This is the only way to have your brand’s message come through loud and clear.

No amount of awesome creative will produce a reaction in your audience that you don’t facilitate with a strategically crafted ad.

In the following sections, you’ll find in-depth insights into how to advertise for awareness, engagement, and conversions.

Gaining Awareness With Facebook Ads

When your goal is to further your target audience’s knowledge of your company or brand you need to reach the right consumers, not just as many consumers as you can.

Ideally, your ads will be eye-catching and informative, but also easily digestible. Here are some options for doing just that.

Photo Ads

Photo ads are clean, simple, and can fit seamlessly into the flow of a viewer’s timeline. (Facebook and Instagram photo ads are notorious for not even looking like advertisements.) Photo ads can be of great use to help your company get noticed by your target market.

When creating your ad, be sure to select “Brand Awareness” as the goal so that your ad will be shown to consumers who are most likely to be interested in it. Or, if your goal is general public awareness, you can select “Reach” and your ad will be shown to the maximum number of users, regardless of their interests.


They will be placed either in the timeline, on the right sidebar, in Marketplace, in-stream video, or even in Messenger. You can manually choose a placement or allow Facebook to choose the placement that will likely perform the best.

“Placements help you reach more of the people you care about in the other places where they’re spending their time.” – Facebook, About Placements

Video (and Carousel) Ads

Video is captivating because it has the potential to really move people in a way photos do not. It allows you to immerse your audience in your brand’s story instead of just telling them about it. You can use video in a number of ways to serve your purpose and inspire your audience no matter who they are. Of course, that is assuming your video is being watched by the right people. Luckily, Facebook has pulled from its years of consumer data to track the different ways viewers consume video depending on the context.

Tips for Capturing Attention With Mobile Video

For mobile video ads, keeping the ad to 15 seconds or less maximizes completion so you can ensure your whole message is being conveyed. The faster you grab attention and deliver your message the better. Also, don’t forget to design your ad to be effective even when sound is off (as it will often be)!

Carousel Video Ads

Video ads are a great way to get users’ attention in short bursts, but the carousel format goes a step further to keep their attention by stacking more short and engaging content side-by-side. This is an opportunity to introduce new products because there is more space than in a traditional video or photo ad. Carousel ads give a similar benefit to collection ads.

Slideshow Ads

This ad format gives you the feel of video through motion, sound, and text without the time and expense. With slideshow you choose up to 10 photos, or an existing video, to tell your brand’s story. A major plus of slideshow ads is that they load fast on any connection speed, which video may not. If you need to create an ad that is quick, affordable, and beautiful on desktop or mobile or if you want to test a video ad’s success without actually making it, then this format is a smart choice.

Fostering Engagement With Facebook Ads

The way people view your brand has a lot to do with the experience they have had with it. Even though advertising is often viewed in a negative light, designing a positive digital brand experience is very possible. Below you’ll find options to engage with customers in ways that resonate with them.

Lead Ads

Lead ads help potential customers learn about your business in a convenient way. Having an easy way for the consumer to start a conversation with you is key to a successful engagement that will lead to conversions.

This type of ad might sound like it is all about sales, but at their core lead ads are focused on new customer acquisition through easy-to-use forms. Conversions are definitely an important outcome and they will follow the positive engagement that comes out of a strategically designed lead ad.

However, no ad will be engaging when it is shown to an audience that just doesn’t care. Use Facebook’s audience selection options to make sure you are reaching the right people, and for more inspiration, read about how BMW successfully used lead ads.

Options for Mobile

On mobile, Facebook uses the information a consumer has already shared with them to populate your form immediately. Someone just has to tap your ad, fill in a few fields, and they are their way down the buyer’s journey.

Messenger Ads

You probably didn’t know that 8 billion messages are exchanged between businesses and people every month.

This makes Messenger a prime place to start a conversation about your brand. The strategy with click-to-messenger ads is to reach your customers en masse but then continue the conversation individually so that you can tailor every interaction to deliver the ultimate customer experience. Sponsored messages will allow you to reconnect with people who have previously messaged your business with highly targeted promotions.

You can even use the same images and text used in your other Facebook or Instagram ads.

In-Stream Video Ads

This is your chance to promote longer-form video content that will actually be watched, as in-stream ads have a 70% completion rate! In-Stream ads play when a person is in “watching mode” and are non-skippable. This means the viewer is already more than 60 seconds into a current video and fully engaged. If your brand needs a platform to share more complex messages that require a viewer’s full attention, in-stream ads were made for you.

Closing Conversions With Facebook Ads

Sometimes the buyer’s journey from awareness to decision making is a long ride. However, once you understand your ad options for conversions, you can more effectively target the action that you want your users to make.

Collection Ads

Collection ads showcase content and products with the ultimate goal of making a sale. With the age of mobile comes a need for brands to supply the option to browse products quickly online, on-the-go. These ads bring the shopping experience where the consumer is spending his or her time. Powered by Instant Experience (previously called Canvas), collection ads take viewers to a fast-loading platform inside the Facebook or Instagram app. Here they can browse available products without ever leaving the app. Plus, you have four templates to choose from for the set-up of your collection ad.

Instant Storefront

This template is for your brand if:

Instant Lookbook

This template is for your brand if:

Instant Customer Acquisition

This template is for your brand if:

Instant Storytelling

This template is for your brand if:

Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads are made for e-commerce businesses whose primary goal is sales. They are unique in that they work and change with your customers. Upload your product catalog, set up your ad once, and then Facebook promotes your products to the people who are most likely to be interested.

If your site is set up on Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce you can install Meta Pixel which tracks customers who have taken a certain action or visited a specific page on your site. The more data you can mine, the better you can target customers who are engaged with your brand and willing to complete a purchase.

Always Remember: Purpose-Driven Goals Are Key

Sometimes beautiful content can still be the wrong content. That is why it’s crucial to choose your brand goals first before deciding on ad platforms or writing copy.

Once you choose a direction, whether it’s awareness, engagement, conversions (or a combination!), social media advertising can do big things for your brand. Your ads are your brand’s voice, so make them sing!

Alexis Fillmer

With a strategic mind and a love for culture and leadership, Alexis spends each day working to get the most out of every idea and person on our team. As our Director of Operations, she’s responsible for creating organizational clarity, ensuring excellence in our services, and creating a culture in which our team members can flourish.

Outside of PHOS, you can find Alexis playing with her son at the park, starting a new house project (and maybe finishing it), at the nearest farmer’s market, trying a new recipe, or scoping out live music with her husband.