Facebook Ads: The Ultimate Guide

What are Facebook Ads?

Facebook Ads are paid advertisements that are placed on the platform of companies and are played out by Facebook according to the targeting set to its users. The goal of Facebook advertising is to get the target group to perform the desired conversion (interaction, click, landing page call, lead or purchase). High relevance to advertising plays a very important role.

Well over 2 billion people – the number of active users on the social network Facebook. With the increasing spread of the platform, the interest of companies to gain this mass of people and to advertise them increased over the years.

Initially, this was still possible in an organic (unpaid) way. A post was published on the company’s own fan page, which then reached a majority of the users who followed this fan page. But two developments caused that to change today:

  1. The so-called news feed became more and more confusing for users as they followed more and more fan pages and friends.
  2. Facebook wanted to make money from advertising at some point.

As a result, Facebook changed its algorithm and introduced the possibility of reaching users on the platform with content using paid advertising. These advertisements are also known as Facebook Ads and are now available in a variety of different formats. You will find an overview later in this article.

The organic reach for fan pages has drastically decreased since the paid formats were introduced. On average, not even 5% of your fans can be reached with a post unless it is advertised. So if you want to be successful on Facebook, you can’t get around the advertising budget.

Which goals are pursued with Facebook Ads

For the goals that can be achieved with Facebook Ads, Facebook is based on a classic purchase funnel model that is similar to the well-known AIDA concept. With such an approach, marketing campaigns can be controlled according to the respective level of the consumer in the purchase decision process. But instead of the phases of awareness, interest, desire, and action (AIDA), Facebook Ads differentiate between:

  • increasing awareness of brands, products or services of the company (awareness),
  • the conviction or consideration of dealing with the company and seeking information about it (Consideration)
  • and increasing conversions, i.e. interested users, should be brought to buy products or services (conversion).

Under these overarching goals, there are specific metrics on which Facebook Ads can be optimized. For example, under “Consideration” you can choose whether you want to increase the traffic to a website, the number of video views or the number of app installations.

The optimal structure of Facebook campaigns

To make it easier for companies to control different campaigns and test different advertising media, Facebook has developed a structure for its ads that contains three core elements: campaign, ad group, and advertisement. These can also be found in the user view in the advertisement manager and help you to keep an overview.


A campaign can consist of one or more ad groups and advertisements. The target of the campaign is selected at this level. Here you should differentiate between the goals that were already described in this article, i.e. create a campaign with the goal “clicks on the website” and another with the goal “app installations” or similar.

ad groups

An ad group can contain one or more ads. At this level, the target group, budget, schedule, bids, and placement are set. For optimal design, an ad group should be created for each target group, as this means that they cannot compete with each other. Otherwise, the budget for the same goal or campaign with different audiences in an ad group may be wasted. It is also advisable to always exclude target groups already advertised in the ad groups to avoid overlap between target groups.


The advertisements consist of the advertising material used. Here is the area for testing creative elements such as text, links, images or videos. A new advertisement should be created for each change so that it can be compared in the end which one has achieved the best performance. The less successful ads can then be deactivated or paused, for example, and posted to more successful more budgets. However, the number of advertisements per advertisement group is limited to 50.

How to run a Facebook ad

Step 1: Create a Facebook page.

First of all, a company page on the platform is required to place Facebook advertising.

Step 2: Create an advertising account in the Business Manager.

As a second step, you then switch to the Facebook Ad Manager, create an advertising account and set the goal to be pursued with the ad. This goal is derived from the purchase funnel metrics described above.

Step 3:Goal Setting

The first decision you have to make is the goal of the advertising campaign, i.e., the campaign type. Increase traffic, increase sales, more likes, better visibility – you have the choice on which criteria your ad should be optimized.

At this point, you also enter the link to be promoted. This can be a Facebook post or an event, but also an external landing page, etc. Ultimately, every advertisement is about bringing the user to a specific location.

Step 4: Choose audience targeting.

It is then necessary to select the right target group. Audience targeting is set at the ad group level. For example, demographic data such as age, place of residence or gender are selected in the ad groups. But of course, Facebook’s targeting options also come into play here.

So people with certain interests can be selected, or users who are already following (or not yet) following their page or following other selected pages. All attributes can always be selected as “and” or as “or” function. Facebook then also shows directly how large this target group is and how many users can be reached with this target group setting.

Step 5: Set the budget.

As a fourth step, you determine the budget to be used and the schedule in the ad groups. You can either set a daily budget or a runtime budget. It is also important here to be able to optimize for a specific goal, e.g. on interactions, on video views or link clicks to a website or the like. Then Facebook prefers to display the ad to those users who tend to carry out this specific action more often. It is also a good idea to let Facebook set the bid value automatically and to control cost control using the maximum daily or term budget since it is quite difficult to predict a manual bid amount.

Step 6: Create Facebook Ads.

In the last step, it gets creative. At the advertisement level, it is determined how the advertisement should look. When a new ad is created, you can choose whether you want to work with images, videos, slideshows or new formats such as canvas or dynamic product ads. Also, text elements such as copy text, a call-to-action or a link description are filled in – depending on the type of ad booked. If it is only a matter of promoting an existing organic contribution from the fan page, visual and text can simply be adopted from there.

Step 7: Analysis and optimization

Of course, planning and publishing an ad campaign is not enough. Because now, the real work is just starting: Be sure to keep an eye on the statistics that the ad manager provides.

Is an ad going well? Perfect, but you shouldn’t rest on that. Because if you don’t change anything at all, it won’t even take a week before “advertising” probably occurs: Then all users of the target group have already seen the ad several times. This is boring and is counterproductive.

So keep changing individual elements on display. Swap the header image, choose a newly formulated CTA, etc. and observe which variant performs best. This comparison is also a good guide for future campaigns.

Optimizing Facebook Ads also means optimizing the corresponding landing pages. For example, if the user is forwarded to an external page by clicking on it, it must be immediately clear why he ended up there.

Imagine you click on an ad and land on a homepage that, in the worst case, is still confusing – would you independently search for the path to the promised free video, checklist, e-book? Hardly likely. And if you, as a visitor, immediately leave the page again, the ad has failed. Bad luck for the competitor – you will do better!

How to determine your target group

As already mentioned, the precise control of advertisements is the great advantage of the social network. With Facebook Ads, target groups can be defined down to the smallest level. In addition to the many selection options when creating the advertising material, additional subtleties can also be used.

Custom audiences

One of these subtleties is that the company’s databases can be used to compare people with users on Facebook.

For example, email addresses can be uploaded from Facebook’s newsletter list.

Custom audiences can also consist of visitors to your website or users of your smartphone app. For this, it is necessary to integrate a pixel in the code of the website or app. This allows Facebook to track certain events and then show the ad to the people who did those events. Actions can be, for example, clicking a button or simply visiting a specific landing page. These so-called “pixel events” can be combined by the advertiser through and/or rules.

However, it is also possible without pixels – because custom audiences can also be formed based on interactions with the Facebook fan page. For example, users can be reached who have already viewed a video of the page within the past few days.

Lookalike audiences

“Lookalikes” can be selected based on the custom audiences. These are users who correspond to a certain percentage to the users from the selected target group. In Facebook Ads, these lookalikes can be set with a percentage of 1% to 10% of the basic target group. Put simply, a lookalike user of a visitor to his website can have similar interests and/or demographic data to himself, for example. Facebook, unfortunately, does not provide any further information on the parameters on which these similarities are exactly defined. Still, Lookalike Audiences are an excellent opportunity to address new users and attract new customers.

Audience Insights

As already mentioned several times, Facebook knows a lot about its users. And this is exactly the advantage for operators of a Facebook page. Because under the “Target group insights” function, advertisers get even more precise insight into the clientele that (so far) they reach with their content. Both organic and paid contributions are included there. From this aggregated information and visualizations, insights can be derived that can be helpful for the design of the next campaign or advertisement.

Where the advertisement is displayed

There are now many options for Facebook Ads where the advertising material is displayed.

News Feed Ads

The classic option is the user’s news feed. Facebook has expanded this variant in recent years, as it was THE answer to the fact that nowadays, the social media platform is visited almost exclusively via smartphone.

There is hardly any space for banner advertising on the side of the screen or similar so that the “organic” display in the middle of cat videos and pictures of friends was the best option.

Right-hand side ads

However, since some people still visit Facebook occasionally (mostly at work) on the desktop, there are still right-hand side ads, with small banners on the right side next to the news feed. However, you can only link to an external website there.

Due to the numerous innovations that Facebook drives, there are always new types of placement.

Instant Articles Facebook Ad’s

So it is now possible to place Facebook Ads in Instant Articles. These are editorial articles that open up on the mobile screen to fill the screen, load faster than other content and virtually offer a new user interface.

In-stream video ads

This is another new way to place advertisements. The user is shown a short advertising display within a video, similar to YouTube. Until recently, this option was only available to advertisers in the United States.

This feature is now also available worldwide.

Facebook stories

“Stories” were not only used by Facebook as a Snapchat killer but also opened a new place for the placement of ads. When you flip these short posts from friends or pages that the user is following, an ad will occasionally appear.

Facebook Marketplace

The last possibility within Facebook is in the marketplace of the social network. Similar to eBay classifieds, private individuals can buy or sell things here. A company can also advertise there.

More Facebook ad placements

Also, Facebook Ads offer the option of displaying the advertising material only on the social media platform Facebook or even on Instagram, Messenger or the Facebook Audience Network. For the last three options, however, the form and content of the advertising material may need to be adjusted.

Formats on Facebook Ads

Regardless of whether it is retargeting or initially just the awareness phase, the Facebook ad must be perfect. That means it contains:

  • High-quality images with an immediately understandable, clear reference to the content of the advertisement
  • Relevant, precise text that precisely addresses the interests of the target group
  • A clearly recognizable added value that shows why it is worth clicking on the ad
  • An unmistakable call to action

What sounds so simple requires some practice in the implementation. Facebook’s overlay tool, for example, is helpful here, as it shows whether the ad contains more than the appropriate 20 percent text. But put an end to the theory: Which ad formats are particularly interesting?

Facebook lead ads

A lead ad contains a contact form that can be filled in directly on Facebook. In practice, this means that a user who wants to register for the newsletter, for example, does not have to go to an external page and fill out the form there. Instead, he can easily register on Facebook.

Lead Ads are perfect for ads that should be played primarily on mobile devices. Honestly, would you, as a user, like to be redirected from the Facebook app to a landing page and all of this “only” for a newsletter/offer? Just.

Facebook Carousel Ads

With this ad format, up to 10 images or videos can be posted. Each element is linked with its link. The user can swipe back and forth between the individual images, which makes the ad format very interactive.

An exemplary illustration of a Carousel Ad and a Lead Ad form

Carousel Ads are made for detailed storytelling. You can either literally tell a mini-story in your ad. Or you show several bestsellers from your online shop. Or the large view of a single product, divided into several pictures. Or, or, or – with a little creativity, you can get a lot out of the carousel format.

Facebook canvas ads

A canvas ad is nothing more than a full-screen ad that can consist of different elements. Canvas Ads are like landing pages in the middle of the news feed, on which, for example, videos, photos, carousel elements, or text blocks are shown. An ad can contain up to 1000 characters of text.

Canvas Ads are optimized for mobile devices and are therefore especially designed for fast loading times. So if you mainly want to contact mobile users, this format is worth considering.

Facebook video ads

Images always work, moving images even better – according to this motto, Facebook also offers the option to advertise with video ads. There are four types of video ads to choose from :

  • In-stream: The ad is played in another video.
  • 360 ° -Video
  • Storytelling video
  • Video Link Ad: The video contains the link to a landing page.

It is very important in this format to provide the advertising video with subtitles. Because Facebook, videos are played automatically without sound.

The cost of Facebook Ads

It’s the tiresome question with all types of advertising: what does it cost? In the case of Facebook Ads, this question cannot be answered broadly, even if it is quickly claimed. We have summarized the most important factors regarding the cost of Facebook advertising.

How much does Facebook advertising cost?

How expensive Facebook Ads are depended entirely on what you want to invest. You set your own budget – as described above – and also determine an overall budget for the campaign. The bid per result can also be set manually. Alternatively, it is set automatically. Here are the options:

  • CPM: self-selected price per 1000 ad impressions
  • CPC: self-selected price per click, regardless of the number of impressions

The CPC model is often more useful for beginners. Because the mere display of the ad does not mean that a user pays attention to it. And so at a cost per mile, you can quickly waste money.

The price system for Facebook Ads can be thought of as an auction. You place your bid for the ad, and the competition does the same. Facebook then decides which ad is played and how often. Ads with higher bids and good relevance ratings have much better chances.

Last but not least, the cost of Facebook advertising depends on how much competition there is and how precisely the target group is narrowed down. In other words: Anyone who wants to tell you about flat-rate costs doesn’t have too much idea what they’re talking about.

The bill on Facebook advertising

Facebook Ads can either be paid by credit card (American Express, Visa, MasterCard) or PayPal. But be careful: you can only choose one payment method for all campaigns. A division is not possible.

It is best for all beginners to set an upper limit for expenditure under the “Invoices” or “Payment settings” tab. So you always keep an eye on your expenses. If you want to print out invoices, you can do that in Ads Manager.

And is this expenditure worth it? Well: Facebook Ads require a lot of know-how and experience. Because only with precisely defined target groups, a reasonable budget, and perfectly designed ads do it make sense to invest money in this form of online marketing. But if you act strategically and continuously optimize your ads, Facebook Ads are worth it – try it!