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Facebook Ad Types: A Complete Guide

By Kristina
20 May, 2021
12 min read

You may have heard that Facebook is losing its edge when it comes to running ads? Well, it’s certainly true that other social platforms - Instagram and TikTok in particular - are growing fast in terms of ads.

But don’t be fooled - when it comes to advertising online, Facebook is still king. 

And in this article, we’ll kick off by telling you exactly why Facebook ads still matter (1.85 billion daily users, anyone?)

Then we’ll do something even more valuable. We’ll break down, one by one, 8 different Facebook ad types. 

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to create or refine your Facebook ad strategy so it really delivers for your e-commerce store. Whether you need more brand awareness, more conversions, or increased customer loyalty, there’s a Facebook ad type out there for you. It’s time to find it.

Why should I use Facebook Ads in 2021?

Facebook ads are still very much hot in 2021. There are 3 main reasons for this:

Audience size

  • The latest data from Statista shows that Facebook currently has almost 1.85 billion daily users and 2.8 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook accounts for over 60.5% of monthly social media visits. So just ask yourself: while platforms like TikTok and Instagram are rising in prominence, can I afford to miss out on over 60% of all social media activity in America?

Time spent on the platform

  • As of January 2021, American users spend around 33 minutes on Facebook per day on average. This puts it above other popular social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter.

Targeting

  • Facebook still has the most flexible and versatile targeting capabilities of any social media platform. With Facebook, you can reach users by location, demographics, age, gender, interests, and much, much more. As many advertising experts have noted in the past, Facebook allows you to target potential customers with near-surgical precision.

There are other benefits to using Facebook ads as well. Managing ad campaigns is easy, and they’re pretty easy to set up - especially compared to Google AdWords. And the cost per click remains very competitive, averaging about $0.60. 

What are the most effective types of Facebook Ad?

Knowing which types of Facebook ads will be most effective for you depends on your campaign objective.

  • Do you want to drive traffic to your page? 
  • Are you trying to boost your conversion rate? 
  • Do you want to build a following for your Facebook page?

As you can see, before you pick a Facebook ad type (or types), you should first identify a specific marketing goal that you’d like to accomplish.

So stop, take a moment, and note down your key marketing objectives.

All done? Great, then it’s time to take a look at the 8 types of Facebook ads currently available. 

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Facebook ad type #1: Engagement Ads

Engagement ads (also known as Page Post Engagement ads), are the simplest form of Facebook ad. 

You create a post on your Facebook page. Then you pay Facebook to show it to users who don’t know you yet, increasing engagement in the post (hence the name).

These are the ads you’ll use when you’ve slaved away to create great content: professional product pics, captivating copy, and viral-worthy videos? This great content won’t do anything for your business unless someone sees it.

That’s where Facebook Engagement ads come in. They drive post engagement, increasing your overall reach.

one-punch man facebook ad
Post Engagement ads like this one are a great way to get your quality content seen by thousands

The key advantage of using engagement ads is that you tap into Facebook’s incredible targeting capabilities. You can pick your target audience from a vast range of criteria, so it is seen by just the people you want to target.

There are 3 main types of Engagement ad - text, image and video. To be honest, you’re going to really struggle to get engagement with just text, so let’s focus on video ads and image ads.

Facebook Engagement ads: Video

Research by Adobe shows that shoppers who engage with a video ad are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. That’s almost double.

Furthermore, nearly half of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. So using Videos Ads on Facebook is going to be a powerful tool for driving sales.

shisheido video facebook ad
Facebook video ads are ideal for health and beauty products. - show shoppers a before and after in 30 seconds and you’ll really grab their attention

Here are some handy tips to consider when creating your Facebook Video ad.

Video size and resolution

Be sure to use the highest possible resolution in aspect ratios 9:16 or 16:9. 

Video length

Your video should get to the point as quickly as possible - your ad is interrupting someone’s Facebook feed, so they’re not going to hang around long. 

As a general rule, keep your Facebook video ad under 2 minutes. According to research into video duration and engagement rates,” a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video.” So you don’t need to worry about a few seconds here or there. Just keep below 2 minutes.

Video sound

Don’t forget most users will see your video with the sound off. So make use of your video is effective even when muted. Add subtitles and engaging text to your videos, and don’t rely heavily on voiceover to communicate the key message - let the visuals do the talking.

supergoop video ad on facebook
This video ad has clear text, so it’s easy to get the message even with the sound off

Facebook Engagement Ads: Image

Even though Image ads don’t have as much going for them as some of the others discussed above, they’re still great if you want to keep things simple and drive a few extra visitors to your site.

lightspeed image facebook ad
Image source: k6agency.com
With Image ads you get one shot at grabbing attention, so make sure your images are dynamically composed and feature bold colors.

Their main advantage is their simplicity. Just find a great product pic, add a few lines of copy, and you’re good to go.

And the downside? Image ads are among the most popular Facebook ad types, so you’ll have to work a bit harder to stand out. 

However, the right image, spiced up with some excellent copy, can still work wonders. 

Facebook ad type #2: Instant Experience Ads (on mobile only) and Collection ads

The Instant Experience ad type refers to full-screen Facebook ads that launch immediately after someone taps on them on their mobile device. This also includes collection ads (more on them below). 

First, the user sees the Facebook ad itself, which they can interact with. It looks like this:

lenovo for business instant experience facebook ad

When a user taps on an ad, they’re instantly taken to the next window (still within the same ad) where they can browse the products. It looks like this:

lenovo facebook ad

Finally, when they select the item they like, they’re taken to the shopping window, which looks like this:

lenovo product ad

Instant Experience ads can be custom-made or based on a template (you can find Facebook’s templates for Instant Experiences here). Whichever you choose, these ads are great for highlighting your products or your brand.  

Their main advantages are:

  • striking visuals, 
  • engaging copy, 
  • and plenty of buttons and links.

You can even link 2 or more Instant Experiences together so more of your content gets viewed!

Instant Experience is compatible with all Facebook ad formats (image, video, carousel, and collection). They show up in the Facebook News Feed and Facebook Stories. They’ll also show up in other places depending on which elements you’ve picked for your ad.

Also, make sure to check out all the metrics available for Instant Experience, including view time and view percentage. 

These will help you to tailor your ads for maximum reach and impact.

Collection ads

Facebook Collection ads are also mobile-only and belong to the Instant Experience ads category. This means they are optimized to give users the best experience while browsing on their smartphones and similar devices.

collection ad audi usa
Image source: agorapulse.com. Collection ads are perfectly set up for a great experience on mobile.

Similar to Lead Generation ads, when users tap on a Collection ad they are taken to a fast-loading, full-screen Instant Experience ad that has been paired with the collection. 

Here’s how the flow works for Collection ads:

  1. A user sees your Collection ad, which consists of a cover image or video and several smaller product images underneath.
  2. The user taps on the ad and is taken to an Instant Experience ad where they learn more.
  3. The Instant Experience ad takes the user to your website, post-click landing page, or app where they can make their desired purchase
collection ad klein watches
Image source: stablewp.com. Collection ads consist of a cover image or video and smaller product images

Collection ads are ideal when you are launching multiple products at once.  The cover image grabs attention, the product images showcase examples, and the Instant Experience immerses shoppers in you collection.

Facebook ad type #3: Event Response ads

Event Response ads allow you to create an event and then target your desired audience directly from your Facebook event page.

This could be a webinar where you showcase your latest products, a concert you are sponsoring, a workshop related to your product niche - whatever will get your audience interacting with you.

event response ad ilan bluestone
Event Response ads are sent directly from the event page, not from your Facebook page

Running Event Response ads is an excellent way to boost awareness for your event, provide followers (and onlookers!) with a simple way to join, and keep track of how many people have responded to your invitation. 

Once the Facebook ad pops up in a user’s feed, they will be asked to either click “interested” or “going” to RSVP for the event. Another cool thing about Event Response ads is that, unlike many of their “regular” counterparts, they look more like boosted posts than ads. This means users are often more ready to engage with them, boosting the clickthrough rate. 

event response ad queensland
Event Response ads have high engagement levels

If you’re going to run Event Response ads, you should also probably consider sending personal invitations to users who are likely to be interested in your event. This will generate some initial engagement and push the Facebook ad a little higher in the feed. 

Facebook ad type #4: Offer ads

As you’ve probably gathered from the name, Facebook Offer ads provide users with the opportunity to entice their followers with specific offers. These can be pretty much anything you like – discounts, holiday deals, giveaways, etc.

offer ad hubble
Offer Ads put your latest deals and discounts right in front of potential shoppers

Offer ads display natively in the Facebook news feed. They come in three different formats: 

Online Offer Ads

Online offer ads can only be used on a website, and only by pages with at least 400 likes. When users claim a mobile offer, they receive a discount code which they can use at the checkout of your online store.

In-store Offer ads

These can only be used in a brick-and-mortar store, making them an excellent choice if you want to drive some foot traffic to your physical business. Upon claiming the offer, users receive a barcode or QR code which they can use at checkout.

In-store and Online Offer ads

In-store or online offer ads allow users to redeem the offer online or in a physical store.

rockstar games offer ad
Online Offer Ads apply deals at checkout when users click through the ad

Offer ads have greater reach than other types of Facebook ads because people tend to pay more attention to discounts and other promotions.

In addition to being superior to traditional ad formats in terms of boosting sales, Offer ads can also help you engage with existing customers and get them returning to your store. They’re also great for gaining new ones and creating a sense of urgency.

Offer Ad case study 

For a real-world example of success with Offer ads, check out the story of Swish in the Philippines. In order to reach Filipino millennials, the company decided to break away from a traditional marketing activation strategy and instead relied on Facebook video ads and Offer ads alone.

The Swish “Now or Never” ad campaign offered users a 50% discount redeemable at any 7-Eleven store in the country. The result was:

  •  a 66% increase in offline sales (compared to the previous month)
  • 4.5X return on Facebook ad spend
  • 18,856 claimed Facebook offers

Not bad for a single ad campaign!

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Facebook ad type #5: Lead Generation ads

The traditional lead generation path drives users to a landing page where they fill out a form. (This basic model applies to Offer ads discussed above.)

This approach is totally fine, but it does have a downside. Users are required to leave Facebook altogether to claim the offer, or to sign up to what you’re promoting.

As you can imagine, not all users want to leave Facebook, especially on mobile. In fact, conversions from traditional paid channels tend to take the biggest hit on mobile devices.

To get around this issue, Facebook created Lead Generation ads. These ads take users through the entire process:

  1. They see the Facebook ad  
  2. They interact with the Facebook ad 
  3. They fill out the form

All without ever leaving the platform. 

aldidropstore lead ad
Image source: Alidropstore. Lead Generation ads allow customers to interact with your ad and complete a form without leaving Facebook

Once they have submitted the form, users can click out of the Facebook ad and go right back to browsing on Facebook. This gives users a nice, smooth user experience.

Facebook ad type #6: Page Like ads

Boosting the number of “likes” your Facebook page has will help you to build a robust customer base. It also means future ads and posts will have a bigger impact because more customers will see your content organically.

But how do you go about boosting the number of “likes” on your page? There are a couple of “manual” options:

  1. Promote the page by sharing it through your personal profile over and over. 
  2. Share it on other social media platforms, via email newsletters, websites, and the like. 

Neither of these methods are particularly effective or convenient. 

Thankfully, Facebook’s got you covered. Page Like ads were designed to increase the awareness of your business by asking users to “like” your page. 

page like ad jasper's market
Image: ppchero.com. Page Like ads encourage users to like your page, which can help with organic reach in the future

This type of ad is best suited to online stores that focus a lot on their social media presence (we’re looking at your fashion, health, and lifestyle stores!) Basically, if you regularly generate lots of content for Facebook and engage with your audience there, these ads are for you.

If you’d like to kill two birds with one stone, you can also add a “like page” call to action to other types of Facebook ads.

zendesk page like ad
 Image: blog.ladder.io. This ad shares a useful resource with users and invites them to download it, but also encourages users to Like the page

Facebook ad type #7: Slideshow ads

Is shooting and editing a video going to be too expensive or time-consuming for you? No worries. Slideshow ads offer a visually engaging ad format without you having to spend a dime on video production. In fact, they are one of the most striking types of Facebook ads.

Slideshow ads take a series of a minimum of three still images (for example, your product pictures). They then automatically create transitions and effects to create the illusion of movement. It’s possible to add sound and text as well. Best of all, all of this is done within the Facebook Ads Manager.

stance slideshow ad
Image source: Spingo. The animated transitions, along with the bold colors, make this Slideshow ad super engaging.

Because they are visually engaging, Slideshow ads allow you to stand out from the endless stream of text and static images on Facebook. They’re a handy way to showcase your products and tell a story.

Speaking of stories, one tip is to do storyboarding before you start putting your Slideshow ad together. Create a plan of which images will be shown in which order. You can even create a mini-story if you’re feeling super creative. 

Carousel ads include an unlimited number of images or videos (only 10 for Instagram though). They give you a chance to tell a fairly extensive story while providing users with more information than would be possible in a single-image or text-based Facebook ad.

love bonito carousel ad
Image source: elcocoliche.com. Carousel ads are ideal for showcasing product collections.

How you use these ads depends on your campaign objective and creativity. But generally speaking, there are 3 main uses of carousel ad:

Showing off multiple products

Shoppers will love to browse a range of products, especially in niches like fashion and accessories. Carousel ads recreate the experience of strolling through your favorite store.

Showing off product features 

Certain products (e.g., consumer electronics and software) have multiple features or characteristics that aren’t immediately apparent from a single image. Use a carousel to show everything your product can do.

Driving engagement

Some people simply aren’t interested in regular ads. Instead, they are looking for an interactive experience where they learn and discover. This kind of engagement is exactly what Carousel ads offer.Image source: laptrinhx.com

travel channel carousel ad
Carousels are more engaging because users can interact with them.

Still need convincing that Carousel ads are worth it? Then how about the fact that Carousel ads can drive up to 10 times more traffic to your website than static ads!

Facebook Ad Types - the takeaways

And there you have it – all the Facebook ad types in one guide! With so much variety and room for creativity, you should be able to pick the right ad format for your goals without much issue. Here are a couple of points to remember when you’re choosing:

  • Facebook Ads are quite versatile, so each ad type can perform different functions. 
  • You should run a few simple test campaigns using the same copy, images, etc. to see which ad type is the most effective for you audience.
  • Go to Facebook’s Ad Manager and get creative! Playing around with the various options in the Manager is a great way to come up with new ideas.

And for added inspiration, take a look at these 30 amazing Facebook ad examples. You’re sure to find something that will get your creative juices flowing.

FAQ

Why should I use Facebook Ads?

Facebook has the largest user base of all social media sites, measuring in the billions, and its users are the most active, spending on average 33 minutes on the platform each day. In addition, Facebook has the most sophisticated targeting capabilities for advertisers.

What is the most effective type of Facebook Ad?

Unfortunately, the answer is quite boring – it depends. All of the individual Facebook ad types have their pros and cons and are best suited for specific goals. For example, Event Response ads can help you get more people to attend an event, while Lead Generation ads can bring new leads without requiring users to go off-platform at any point.

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Kristina

I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.

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