Every Facebook Ad Format Complete with Ad Specs, Placements & More

Last updated on by Ted Vrountas in Facebook Advertising

Despite recent negative PR, Facebook is still the social network every brand has a place on. For B2C retailers to B2B consultants and everything in between, the platform’s highly engaging and customizable formats allow the continuous reach toward greater ROI.

But, in a short time, Facebook has come a long way from the simple newsfeed image ad. There are Carousels and Canvas — err, Instant Experience — ads, Collections and Slideshows, three types of Messenger ads. It’s become overwhelming.

What do Carousels do? Where can you run a Collection ad? How do you reach a Facebook user in Messenger? These, and more, we answer below.

All the Facebook ad formats

This post should answer your basic questions about Facebook ad formats, like how they work, what they include, and where you can run them. For more on the specs of each, and the specs of digital ad formats across the web, download the Instapage digital advertising reference guide:

Carousel

Facebook’s Carousel format allows you to upload a series of up to 10 images or videos in a single ad, and each can have its own link. For this reason, it’s the ideal format for showcasing multiple products, telling a story, or demonstrating a product use.

According to a Digiday report, Carousel ads can drive traffic at a rate ten times higher than average. Brands have tested the theory.

LOVOO, a dating app, found that 72% more people clicked through carousel ads than single-image mobile app ads, while The Black Tux boosted conversions 3,400% with the Carousel format. In the same campaign, the menswear brand also benefited from:

Placement options

Design specs for reach objective on Facebook feed:

More details on Carousel design specs for various placements and objectives.

Video

The appeal of using this format to spread your message is obvious: Autoplay video has the ability to catch the eye of scrolling social users. That’s why, today, nearly half of all business owners are allocating a portion of their budget to Facebook video.

When in view, they will play your message without sound (a max length of two minutes). If your message features speech, captioning by Facebook can ensure it’s readable all the way through. At your video’s conclusion, viewers can choose to rewatch it or click a call-to-action to progress to your landing page.

Brands like New Balance and Clubtails have seen major improvements in brand awareness with the help of video. And creative agency, Turnkey Marketing, showed that video can do more than simply inform. With video ads, they sold 14X more vehicles and booked 12x more service appointments on behalf of a client.

Placement options

Design specs for Reach objective on Facebook Feed:

More details on video design specs for various objectives and placements.

Link ads (aka Image ads)

Image ads have been a staple of Facebook’s advertising since the beginning. They allow you to include an image below post text, followed by a URL, headline and subheadline, then a CTA of your choice.

But just because they’re basic doesn’t mean they don’t get results. In fact, research shows that 75-90% of advertising effectiveness on Facebook can be attributed to images. Here, the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. And it seems many brands are following it…

For the Oakland Raiders, link ads contributed to a 19x return on ad spend for headwear, and a 10x return on ad spend for sweatshirts. And after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Mercy Corps used link ads to raise $124,000 for relief, generating 2.2x more return on ad spend. Find out more about how brands use link ads here.

Placement options

Design specs for reach objective on Facebook feed:

More details on image format specs for various objectives and placements.

Instant Experience (formerly Canvas)

This format has a new name, but it’s just as engaging as it’s always been. Formerly Canvas, Facebook’s Instant Experience ad type is a full-screen mobile unit that features images and videos.

To Facebook users, it appears as an image or video ad. When clicked, Instant Experience consumes the entire screen with media of your choosing: combinations of product images and videos, slideshows, each with a unique link. Simply, Instant Experience is a way to combine several forms of media into one cohesive, quick, and highly engaging user experience.

According to Facebook, the number of Instant Experience campaigns has more than doubled over the last year. With its ability to command 100% attention, and loading speeds 15x faster than an average web page, it’s easy to see why.

In January 2018, Bud Light used Instant Experience to bring its medieval “Dilly Dilly” campaign to life. The result was virality, starting with a major boost in brand favorability and a reach of half its target demographic. Here are some more ways to use Instant Experience.

Placement options

Design specs

Video design specs

Image specs

Just because Instant Experience ads are viewed on mobile doesn’t mean you should upload smaller pictures for your ad. The full-screen format means users will see all the little details, so high-quality files are a must.

More details on Instant Experience design specs across various placements and objectives.

Collection

With a collection, you’re free to showcase up to 50 products with an ad unit that supports images, videos, and slideshows. The unit first appears to users as an image or video ad with image thumbnails beneath. When clicked, it opens to cover the entire screen in a browsing experience right on Facebook.

If it sounds like an Instant experience to you, that’s because, well, partly it is. Facebook writes:

With Facebook Collection ads, people who tap on your collection ad to browse or learn more will be seamlessly taken to a fast-loading visual post-click experience powered by Instant Experience -- all without leaving Facebook or Instagram.

Instant Experience is valuable for advertisers as a showcase, but the Collection format adds a greater dimension of shoppability, giving users more access to a variety of product lines.

When it comes to creating a Collection ad, there are three types. According to Facebook, the following is how to determine which you’ll want to use:

Instant Storefront

Use this template when:

Instant Lookbook

Use this template when:

Instant Customer Acquisition

Use this template when:

Instant Storytelling

Use this template when:

Placement options

Design specs for Traffic objective in Facebook Feed:

More details on Collection format ad specs for various placements and objectives.

Slideshow

Between images and videos are Facebook’s Slideshow format. It’s, as Facebook says, “the power of video without the time and expense.”

Another of the social network’s more established ad types, the Slideshow is quick to make and even quicker to load, which makes it ideal for:

Slideshows can support up to ten images in a series, and it even enables sound. Both Coca-Cola and Netflix have relied on Slideshows for Facebook campaigns, and clothing brand, Stance, saw its cost per acquisition fall by half compared to single image ads, and its click-through rate more than doubled.

Placement options

Images

Video

More details on how to create Slideshow ads with design specs.

Offers

When generating leads, it all starts with an offer: an audit, a discount, a free trial. With the Offers format, you can create ads that get Facebook users to your website, storefront, or both. There are three types:

When your offer ad appears, Facebook users can save it, like it, or comment on it. When a user saves it, the offer will be bookmarked for later, and they’ll be notified via email and Facebook to use it before it expires. If their phone has location services on, they’ll even get a notification when they’re close to your store. Offers ads can be created in the Carousel, Video, or Slideshow format.

Placement options

Design specs

Lead Generation

Generating conversions is about removing as much friction between the visitor and the call-to-action. And, when generating leads with social media, one of the biggest sources of friction is bad post-click experience.

Lead ads eliminate that friction by keeping the entire conversion experience on Facebook. Long-term, this isn’t beneficial because it keeps visitors off your website, but if you need leads quickly, lead gen ads may be a good fit.

Lead ads work like this: A Facebook user sees your ad complete with a standard call-to-action. When they click, instead of sending them to your website, a lead gen form appears, pre-populated with all the information they’ve already shared with Facebook. They submit, and you have a new lead.

For users, it’s easy to convert, and that translates to added effectiveness for advertisers. For example, with lead ads, the Minnesota Orchestra recently generated 300 ticket sales from 410 new leads which resulted in $28,000 in revenue. Learn about more about lead ad campaigns here.

Placement options

Design specs for lead ads on Facebook

Images

Videos

Design specs for lead ads on Instagram

Images

Videos

Messenger Ads

This ad type lets brands start a conversation with Facebook’s 1.3 billion monthly Messenger users. Among Messenger ads, there are three different types:

1. Messenger Home ad

These image ads appear in the home of a target’s messenger app. When clicked, it will send users to a destination of your choosing, like a landing page, app, or even a conversation with your business via Messenger.

2. Click to Messenger ad

Click-to-messenger ads look like standard image ads, but, when clicked, open up a conversation with your business in Messenger. From there, you can update them on products, resolve customer service issues, collect customer feedback, and more.

3. Sponsored Messages

Sponsored messages are a form of retargeting that allow you to reach users in Messenger who have already interacted with your Messenger ad. These are more highly qualified leads, and Facebook allows you a nifty away message if you can’t be at messenger to respond to them immediately.

The Humane Society is just one of many brands that has found success with the Messenger format. Using click-to-messenger ads, the nonprofit started conversations that resulted in email leads and even petition signatures. The campaign was a major success, generating:

Placements options

Design specs vary depending on placement. Learn more here.

Event Response ads

If you’re planning an event and your goal is big turnout (why wouldn’t it be?), Event Response ads give you the tools you need to make it happen. On Facebook, this ad format allows you to:

When the advertising team at the Color Run aimed for big turnout, they relied on Facebook event response ads to provide it. With a carousel that coupled bright colors and action shots (image above), they created a Carousel that boosted awareness, drove ticket purchases, and doubled sales at the end of the campaign.

Design Specs

More details on Event Response ad design specs across various placements and objectives.

Which Facebook ad formats will you choose?

Every Facebook format has a distinct advantage over the others when used in the right campaign. Don’t preoccupy yourself with what works for everyone else. Self-educate. Test. Run your own ads, and if you need help designing them, make your job easier by consulting the Instapage Ad Specs Guide.