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Facebook ads types and formats | Digital marketing for digital dinosaurs

Social media marketing is the big thing of the marketing landscape in the last 10 years.

Although the way brands are using social media has been changing over time, over the last 5 years we have witnessed a massive increase in advertising investment in social media advertising especially in parallel with a sharp decline of the organic reach that platform like FB guarantee.

From a space where brands could have a social presence, the platforms are increasingly becoming another communication channel.

The system is expected to further change and evolve.


Social media marketing is a combination of paid advertising and branded content.

In buzz-words: campaign and always-on.

Because of the “social” nature of the platform, brands traditionally invested time and effort in creating lot of different content in order to attract fans to their pages and engage them.

This content is usually called Always-on (AWO) normally posted organic in the social media page.

Planning, producing and posting this AWO is an expensive effort that over the recent years is going under the lens of ROI levels

For Facebook is estimated that the organic reach of a post is approximately 5.2% with 0.07% engagement for the average organic Facebook Page post.

Organic reach means the % of people within the ones who follow your page that will be exposed to a post, on average.

It is clear since many years that FB is a platform that makes money on advertising and it will make sure that advertisers pay for it

Facebook says (organic) Feed “shows you stories that are meaningful and informative.” As of 2022, the Facebook algorithm figures out what those stories might be using three main ranking signals:

  • Who posted it: You’re more likely to see content from sources you interact with, including friends and businesses.

  • Type of content: If you most often interact with video, you’ll see more video. If you engage with photos, you’ll see more photos. You get the idea.

  • Interactions with the post: Feed will prioritize posts with a lot of engagement, especially from people you interact with a lot.

Each post is ranked based on these main signals to determine where it appears in your feed.

Now, with such low levels of organic reach, it’s not surprising that brands are using the platform as another paid media channel with its own kind of advertising hence attention to producing Always-on has decreased over time.

To a different extent this is happening on other platforms too; everyone is pushing the advertising model, whether is Youtube, Instagram, Linkedin or TikTok

So, let’s open the big chapter, of social media ads

I will structure this looking at the top platforms:

  • Facebook / Instagram (same family )

  • YouTube

  • TikTok

  • Twitter

  • Linkedin

  • Google

Please note, I will not get into the details of click here, click there on their platforms, you can find a lot better speakers and more technical than me online. I want to use this forum to talk through the logic from a strategic point of view even if I will use actual examples to explain the different types of ads formats


In Facebook you can run a number of different types of ads according to the objectives of the brand.

In fact, as showed at the beginning of this course in the WHY section, the ad formats we can create on FB directly depends on the type of objective we have. According to the objectives brands can choose some formats as well as personalise them with different elements, example call to action, links to websites, links to ecommerce etc.

Let’s look at the most common type of ads

  • Video Photo and slideshow ads, ads that appear in the News Feed and Stories, or they can appear as in-stream ads in longer Facebook videos.

  • Stories ads are a customisable, edge-to-edge experience that lets you immerse people in your content. Tap into their passions and inspire them to take action on mobile

  • Messenger ads help people start conversations with your business.

  • Carousel ads let you showcase up to ten images or videos in a single ad

  • Dynamic ads allow you to promote targeted products to the customers most likely to be interested in them. For instance, say someone has visited a product page or placed a product in their shopping cart on your website, but then abandoned the purchase. With dynamic ads, you can advertise that specific product in their Facebook feed.

  • Collection ads let people discover, browse and buy what you offer.

  • Lead ads that are only available for mobile devices. That’s because they’re specifically designed to make it easy for people to give you their contact information without a lot of typing.

  • Augmented reality ads use features like filters and animation to allow people to interact with your brand.

One special format of FB that is worth mentioning is called collaborative ads that are only available for certain advertisers.

Collaborative ads ads allow brands to run performance marketing campaigns for their products, and in turn these ads direct traffic to a retailer partner's website, mobile app or store to complete the purchase.

Collaborative ads help brands increase sales of their products and make it easy to measure and optimise the effectiveness of their advertising.

being the biggest platform where to invest in marketing activities, we want to track our efforts on FB

How to set ads

Through a pretty intuitive back end, once set your objectives, the system guides you through the setting of the ad.


First things first, as starting point FB asks you to set timing and budget and how you want to auction for the ads. Money first at FB. It is important to mention here that, according to the type of account you have, you can auction or buy by fixing reach and frequency.

With the first approach (auction) you set a budget and you let the system auction the ad; with the second approach FB lets you book campaigns in advance with predictable, optimised reach and controlled frequency.

Reach and frequency is a buying type that lets you select a fixed CPM (cost per mille .000) based on your audience, so you know what you'll pay before you book your campaign.

By setting up a Reach and Frequency campaign in Ads Manager, you can predictably reach your chosen audience while controlling the number of times that your audience sees your ads as well as the days on which they see your ads, the times of day that they see them and in which order they see them.


Once done that you can choose the right audience. As mentioned before, targeting is definitively the biggest reason behind FB ads success. You can segment target by demographic, interest, behaviours. All elements you can decide to include or exclude. You can choose to talk to custom audiences or create a lookalike audiences.

Once the audience is set you decide the placement,

meaning where you want this ad to appear. Facebook has a lot of different placement opportunities but some are definitively more important than others. You can decide to customise them or follow the system’s advice. An important decision on placement is whether you want to advertise on Instagram or not and in case, how. For what concerns the formats supported by FB, they can all be placed on IG. The system will generate a preview through which you will see how your ad will look like in each placement.

As mentioned IG belonging to the same family, works under very similar logic, biggest exception being the possibility on IG to buy Paid sponsorships: This is when a brand pays a user to promote them via Instagram posts. To create a sponsored post on Instagram, you need to set up a branded sponsorship with the business. You can only make a post after the brand has added them as a partner

Once finished setting up all the parameters, you actually create your ad piece by piece, for example y uploading pictures or videos, creating a caption, adding call to actions or other features.

The ad needs to be approved by FB before it can run, so you need to allocating some time when creating it, before it will be working.

KPI's on Facebook

Before concluding, let’s look at some of the key metrics for FB activities.

There are a number of metrics and KPI’s we should measure, I will start listing them here and I will focus on the one more related to advertising; we want to look at how our ads perform both in terms of effectiveness of the content and in terms of media buying.

  • Post metrics: reach, impressions, engagement and engagement rates, likes and followers

  • Facebook brand awareness metrics: followers demographic, referral traffic (where they come from)

  • Facebook Group metrics: top contributors, engagement and growth of the group

  • Facebook video metrics: video views, audience retention (Audience retention is how long someone watched over the duration of the video.) and video engagement (reactions, shares and comments on video)


  • Impressions: the number of times one ad is shown to a target group

  • Reach: the number of people who watch an ad

  • Frequency: the number of times the same person is exposed to an ad

  • By implication: impression = reach x frequency

  • Engagement: the number of actions (like, share comments, click, video watch) taken by consumers on a specific post. Note: the definition of ‘action” varies a lot amongst different platforms, make sure you know how is it defined before you compare them.

  • Engagement rate: the % calculated from the number of actions taken on a post / by the number of impressions


  • Clicks: Link clicks are reflective of the quality of the title and image included on your post. Of course, your raving fans will click on everything you share, but the majority of people (especially new people) are only going to click on posts that interest them. A large number of clicks with very few likes and shares shows that your post got their attention but didn’t deliver the exceptional quality needed for the viewer to engage.

  • Likes: Likes lead to more attention because people naturally gravitate towards things that are popular. More likes also signal to most platform algorithms that this particular content deserves a higher spot in search results.

  • Shares: Sharing is a conscious decision. When someone shares your post (or retweets, re-vines, etc.) they are giving a personal recommendation to their friends, colleagues, and family. Because of this, shares are a great indication of the quality of your work.

  • Comments: Interesting, relevant content sparks a conversation. Even if people leave critical comments, you’re better off than having no comments at all. Praise, criticism, and general discussion are all helpful for improving your marketing, but silence is not. Getting comments on your comments is a reliable sign that your content is hitting all the right points of interest.

  • Brand mentions: Tags or mentions show that people are having a conversation about your brand even when you’re not even in the room.


  • Click-through rate (CTR) is the number clicks on your ad divided by the number of times it has been shown. This is best examined when you want someone to take action on the ad. In some cases, such as those that are aiming for a high impressions count, CTR does not matter as much as CPM would.

  • Cost per click (CPC) is a paid advertising term where an advertiser pays a cost to a publisher for every click on an ad. If your campaign is set to charge for clicks (users have to click on an ad), then the CPC will be your metric. The average is $1.72 CPC. Cost Per Mille (CPM) is the cost per 1000 impressions. This is most often measured for brand awareness.

  • CPA: for campaigns with specific actions, like an app install, cost per action (CPA) is measured per action. The user will need to click the button for you to be charged.

You will be able to find all those info in the results page of your Facebook Business page

Sources: above material is mainly taken from Facebook, I will post a series of links to useful sources towards the end of the series of those blog posts.

For now if you want to learn more about Facebook ads I suggest you to study here

Hope this is helpful for you, please stay in touch.


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