How Facebook Ads Have Evolved [+What This Means for Marketers]

According to a recent study from Statista, Facebook has an estimated 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide, including roughly two-thirds of the US population. There’s no social media platform more prominent or ubiquitous. No other online destination offers you more potential exposure to prospects.

A well-maintained Facebook presence is central to many — if not most — companies’ social media strategies. It’s a key factor in processes like conducting outreach, projecting legitimacy, generating interest, and driving traffic to other content and company resources.

One avenue businesses can leverage to make effective use of Facebook as a marketing tool is paid advertisements — a format that has moved through several iterations over the years.

Here, we’ll get a timeline of some of the most important, interesting milestones in Facebook ads’ evolution, a picture of what the future might hold for the medium, and what this all means for marketers.

Download Now: Free Facebook Advertising Checklist

The History of Facebook Ads

2004: Facebook first starts generating ad revenue with its “Flyers” project.

Roughly two months after Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin launched Facebook in February 2004, the two took some minor steps to monetize the platform — just enough for a small financial cushion to help while the company got off the ground. 

As Zuckerberg said in an interview with the Harvard Crimson shortly after the platform went live, “It might be nice to get some ads going to offset the cost of the servers.”

That April, Facebook started selling bits and pieces of ad space to companies promoting moving services, T-Shirts, job listings, and other offerings for students.

The ads themselves weren’t particularly sophisticated, and the founders didn’t have much of a firm grasp on digital advertising. Still, the project represented a milestone in the history of Facebook advertising.

The history of Facebook Ads flyers

Image Source: Business 2 Community

It was the first time the platform tried to make money from the platform through ad sales. Unrefined and seemingly uncoordinated as it might have been, the Flyers project still helped keep the platform afloat during its early days and warrants a mention on this timeline.

2007: Facebook officially launches its Facebook Ads platform.

Some three years after Facebook’s initial launch, the company introduced a large-scale, official ads program to the platform. It gave businesses the space to create individual profiles — just like standard users — to post content, share photos, and engage with Facebook users.

As Zuckerberg put it, “The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page, and that’s where businesses are going to start as well…The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

The new program also introduced “Social Ads” — ads that combined social actions from a user’s friends, like a recent purchase or review of a business, with an advertiser’s message.

This allowed advertisers to deliver more specific, targeted ads to users that included information from their friends. These ads appeared either within a user’s news feed or in the site’s designated ad space.

The history of Facebook Ads 2007

Image Source: CNN

At Facebook Ads’ official launch — 2007’s Facebook Social Advertising Event — Zuckerberg summed up his vision for the program, “Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online. For the last hundred years, media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation.”

2011: Facebook launches its desktop ad program called “Sponsored Stories.”

In 2011, Facebook introduced its “Sponsored Stories” project — a program that placed paid advertisements directly on users’ news feeds. Initially, the company pledged to only show users just one sponsored story on their news feeds per day. Those stories also stemmed solely from friends or pages users already liked.

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories

Image Source: Mashable

As a product manager from Facebook described it, “Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a sponsored story which features some of your content is actually something they would have already seen in their news feed. A sponsored story never goes to somebody who is not one of your friends.”

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories 2

Image Source: TechCrunch

Though it was impossible for users to opt-out of the program entirely, they still had the option to close out individual ads. “Sponsored Stories” certainly rubbed some users the wrong way, but advertisers saw it as a big win. Finally, they had the space to display their ads directly in the mix of social content and consumers’ news feeds — a wildly valuable stretch of virtual real estate.

2012: Facebook launches its mobile ads program.

Up until 2012, Facebook’s mobile app didn’t actually make money. It didn’t feature ads, and the move to incorporate them was considered a risky play. Consumers weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of having ads take up space on their mobile feeds.

The history of Facebook Ads mobile

Image Source: VentureBeat

Facebook opted to subtly ease advertisements into users’ feeds. Its mobile ads plan borrowed heavily from the desktop platform’s “Sponsored Story” strategy — seamlessly blending in paid promotional content and having it look like standard statuses or other user-generated content.

The company’s mobile advertising strategy aimed to make ads as discreet as possible. It provided limited real estate to advertisers, pressing businesses to create engaging, interesting content to capture consumer attention within tight confines. The strategy ultimately proved successful and further drove advertisers’ collective need to optimize for mobile.

2014: Facebook rolls out its three-level advertising campaign structure, offering “campaigns” and “ad sets” — on top of standard ads.

In March 2014, Facebook introduced its new ad structure. Until that point, the platform’s campaign structure consisted of two levels: campaigns and ads.

Campaigns — the overarching plans that correspond to specific advertising objectives — were designed to help users optimize, and measure results of individual ads. With this new development in Facebook advertising’s evolution, a buffer was put between those two levels.

Ad sets — subsets of a campaign that could feature their own budgets and target separate audience segments — were introduced. Those sets gave advertisers a new level of structure for honing in on, best appealing to, and better understanding demographics of particular interest.

The history of Facebook Ads ad set

Image Source: Facebook

According to a Facebook press release, the program was designed to “make it easier for advertisers of every size to organize, optimize and measure their ads.” It was a game-changing milestone for the platform — one that made its advertising infrastructure more thoughtfully regimented and easier to navigate.

2016: Facebook introduces bots to its Messenger platform.

In 2016, Facebook made a push to capitalize on the tremendous advertising potential of its siloed mobile messaging function. One of the ways the company looked to take advantage of the system was through the incorporation of chatbots. Facebook offered businesses two paths for bot incorporation — “Sponsored Messages” and “Click-to-Messenger” ads.

“Sponsored Messages” are ads that appear directly in a user’s Messenger inbox — ones that allow users to automatically communicate with a chatbot by clicking them.

The history of Facebook Ads chatbot

Image Source: BotsCrew

“Click-to-Messenger” ads leverage CTAs to place ads in users’ Messenger inboxes. A business will draw users in with some sort of incentive — like a discount or piece of content — on the original Facebook platform and automatically send them a message via chatbot once they click on the offer.

2018-2020: Facebook expands its ad formats, featuring eight separate advertising options.

Over its history, Facebook has consistently expanded its available advertising formats, aiming to effectively monetize the platform without compromising user experience. As of 2020, the company offers eight different advertising options:

As time goes on, you should expect to see this list expand and the nature of mediums it covers shift and progress. New technology and trends will bring new formats to explore and familiar processes to refine.

The Future of Facebook Advertising

If there’s anything to learn from Facebook advertising’s evolution, it’s that the processes and practices behind the concept will never remain stagnant. Mark Zuckerberg will never look at the platform’s advertising infrastructure and say, “Yeah, I think we nailed it. We’ll never need to change any of this ever again.”

Advertising on Facebook will continue to evolve and adapt as new ad formats emerge, privacy and data regulations loosen or constrict, its user base changes, and social media trends come and go. There are too many factors at play to expect anything but constant, likely significant changes in the practice as time goes on.

So, what can marketers take away from this article? Is there any recurring theme underlying success across every phase of Facebook advertising’s evolution?

As Facebook advertising has progressed, the companies that thrived in every stage were the ones that shared high-quality, engaging content that wasn’t too abrasive.

Consumers aren’t using the platform because they want to see ads. That’s why the content you share on the platform has to come across as natural, interesting, and not too jarring.

If you prioritize producing and sharing valuable, interesting advertisements that won’t overwhelm or frustrate your target audience, you’ll put yourself in the best position possible to thrive as Facebook advertising continues to progress.

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Originally published Aug 24, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated August 24 2020


Facebook Advertising

The 11 Facebook Ad Campaign Objectives and How to Choose What’s Right For Your Business

Facebook ads are a great tool to get your message in front of the platform’s 2.5 billion monthly users. With such a large audience, you can understand why the platform is attractive to advertisers. Over 7 million advertisers to be exact.

To succeed and maximize your return on investment (ROI) among so many audience members and competitors, start with why you want to use Facebook ads and what you hope to achieve with them. After all, your campaign objective is the first thing Facebook will ask you about when you go to create an ad.

Your Facebook campaign objective — meaning the action you want someone to take after they see your ad — is one way the platform determines who should be shown your ad.

Within Facebook Ads Manager, there are 11 objectives spanning the three overarching categories of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and conversions.

facebook ad objective


With so many options, the thought of determining which objective is best for you may feel a bit overwhelming, but no sweat — we’ll break them down below.

Check out HubSpot’s free course on Facebook Ads Training: How to Build Great Ads & Audiences

Awareness Facebook Campaign Objectives

Awareness objectives help generate interest in your product or service.

1. Brand Awareness

As you may have guessed, these ads help increase people’s awareness of your business. If you’re looking to introduce your brand to new audiences, this can be a great option. That’s because Facebook will show these ads to members of your target audience who are more likely to pay attention to and recall the ads.

Facebook predicts recall ability by polling users on whether they remember seeing an ad and analyzing their past behavior and interactions with ads.

Keep in mind the sole focus of these ads is to make people aware of your brand, so you shouldn’t expect significant engagement or click-throughs. However, they will help you establish brand familiarity and pique the interest of your target audience.

Use these ads to keep consumers aware of, and able to recall, your brand as well as highlight what makes your business and product/service unique.

TLDR: Choose this ad to increase the chances of your target audience recognizing and recalling your brand, and the features that make it stand out from competitors.

2. Reach

Facebook reach ads are shown to as many people in your target audience as possible while staying within your budget constraints. You can even specify the specific location you would like your audience to be in, so the ad only reaches people near your business. An added bonus is the ability to choose the frequency of these ads, meaning how many times someone will see the ad.

On one hand, this strategy maximizes the number of people who see your ad. On the other, Facebook doesn’t take into consideration the likelihood of the user paying attention to the ad. Meaning, you may end up paying for your ad to be displayed to audience members who tend to scroll past any form of advertisement on the platform.

TLDR: Choose this ad to send your business message to as many of your target audience members as possible, even if it means attempting to reach those who typically ignore ads. This objective can work well for local businesses.

Consideration Facebook Campaign Objectives

Consideration objectives encourage audiences to think and learn more about your business.

3. Traffic

The traffic objective aims to send people from Facebook to any URL of your choosing, such as your website’s homepage, online storefront, app, event page, etc.

Facebook does this by showing your ads to users who are likely to click based on their past behavior on the platform (newsflash: Facebook knows a lot about its users). By bringing more visitors to your featured destination, you’ll increase the likelihood of a user taking favorable actions on your landing page.

Note that, with the traffic objective, Facebook is only responsible for collecting clicks and does not measure any action(s) — or lack thereof — a user takes once they leave the platform.

TLDR: Choose this ad to direct viewers to a new URL destination so they can learn more about what you’re offering or promoting.

4. Engagement

Also based on past behavior, the platform shows engagement ads to those who they predict will engage with your ads in the form of likes, reactions, comments, and shares. The are 3 types of engagement ads: post engagement, page likes, and event responses.

Post engagement and page likes will boost engagement for your ad and Facebook business page respectively. Event response engagement ads are a unique way to promote your event to increase attendance and get people excited.

Engagement ads use social proof to determine where users are more likely to pay attention to, and be interested in, an ad after seeing how others interact with it.

Take yourself for example — would you spend more time considering an ad with 473 likes or an ad with 14 likes? I’ll take the former, please.

When others engage with your ads, their activity will also be shared with their Facebook friends, reaching even more people. Their validation will help your online word-of-mouth marketing.

TLDR: Choose this ad to establish brand credibility through likes, comments, and shares and increase interaction with your business on Facebook.

5. App Installs

This objective helps drive mobile app installs by taking users directly to the App Store or Google Play store to download your app. Facebook shows these ads to members of your target audience who have previously downloaded apps from ads to increase chances of your app installations.

TLDR: Choose app installs ads to increase app downloads for your business.

6. Video Views

Facebook will push video views ads to your target audience with the objective of getting as many views as possible. These ads can be a powerful way to tell your brand story or show your service in an engaging and consumable. After all, a HubSpot report found that over 50% of consumers want to see video content from brands.

What’s really valuable about video view ads is their ability to help you retarget those who watched your video. You can retarget people who watched your video content to remind them of your brand and product/service in hopes of boosting brand awareness and conversions.

TLDR: Choose this ad to use video to share information about your business and reach your audience via an engaging medium. Then, retarget your viewers to boost chances of conversion.

7. Lead Generation

Lead generation ads are a great way to embed lead magnets and collect leads while allowing the user to stay on Facebook. Users submit their personal information in exchange for an offer created by your business, such as an email newsletter or workbook.

The ability for the user to remain on Facebook is a huge advantage for this type of ad. This makes it easy for the user to fill in the ad’s form, while never leaving the page or straying too far from what it is they originally went to the platform for — this results in a seamless UX and can increase chances of conversion.

Facebook can even auto-fill these forms by pulling contact information from the user’s account details so all they have to do is click “Submit”.

TLDR: Choose this ad to collect leads for your business with an enticing offer. This works best when the user is already in the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey and is therefore willing to exchange their information for something of value in return.

8. Messages

With the messages objective, viewers can directly message your business through the ad using Facebook Messenger.

This is an effective way to personally connect with users to generate more interest in your business. Engaging with your audience through Messenger allows you to connect with your audience versus talking at them.

Leverage your conversations as an opportunity to answer any questions, offer customer support, build rapport with your audience, collect leads, and drive sales. Messenger is a great way to show your customers that there’s a human on the other end, ready to help them.

With these ads, it’s crucial that you’re ready to respond quickly and effectively once the messages flow in. Otherwise, prospective customers may lose interest if you’re not responsive to their inquiries.

TLDR: Choose this ad to encourage users to contact your business through Facebook Messenger, if you’re prepared to respond in a timely manner.

Conversion Facebook Campaign Objectives

Conversion objectives nudge audiences to buy or use your product or service.

9. Conversions

The goal of conversion ads is to encourage people to take valuable actions on your website or app, such as registering for an event, adding an item to cart, or making a purchase.

These ads are most successful when delivered to people who are already familiar with your product — likely, those who have gone through the awareness and consideration stages and need an extra push toward conversion.

Installing the Facebook pixel on your website will be required for these ads to help Facebook optimize your campaigns. The pixel is a piece of code for your site that tracks each time a user takes action and converts through a Facebook ad. With each conversion, Facebook learns who to target in the ads to maximize conversions.

TLDR: Choose this ad to increase conversion actions on your site or app. These ads should be served to those who are already knowledgeable about your business.

10. Catalog Sales

The catalog sales ad is made with a holistic view of ecommerce stores in mind. Instead of promoting a single product or service, ads with this objective will show relevant products from your store to people who have demonstrated interest in them before. Facebook is able to recognize this behavior based on its understanding of your offerings and the user through its pixel.

These ads require you to integrate your product catalog with Facebook so the platform can pull a selection from your store and adjust it as needed for audience members based on various factors, such as your latest arrivals.

Catalog sales ads are also more specific than conversion ads because the end goal is to generate sales, whereas the goal of conversions ads can vary from increasing registration or adding payment information.

TLDR: Choose this ad if you prefer Facebook select which products from your catalog are most relevant for your audience, based on their machine learning predictions, in order to increase sales.

11. Store Traffic

The store traffic objective is perfect for businesses with physical locations as the goal is to remove the digital barrier and bring in-person foot traffic to your store.

The ads are delivered to people who are physically near your store, so they are more likely to visit. It’s important to mention these ads target based on location only, which means audience demographics will not be considered.

There are two necessities for store traffic ads to work. As the advertiser, you must ensure that all your business locations are properly entered in Business Manager. For the consumer, their location services must be enabled so Facebook knows when to show the ad.

With those stars aligned, you’ll be able to track your store visits at each location from the ad.

TLDR: Choose this ad if your business has brick and mortar locations and you’re looking to increase store visits.

Now, when you log into Facebook Ads Manager, you should have a better idea what all the campaign objectives mean. If you’re ready to roll your sleeves up, we can help you step-by-step through the Facebook ad creation process.

How to Run Facebook Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Facebook

When setting up a paid Facebook ad, there are a lot of boxes to be checked.

Are you targeting the right people? Are your image dimensions to scale? Are you running the right type of ad? If we’re being honest, it can get a little confusing.

With more than 2.6 billion people using Facebook every month, and nearly 1.7 billion users every day, Facebook offers up a unique opportunity for marketers to augment their organic efforts. The trouble is, with both an investment of time and money on the line, there’s not much room for oversight.

To help, we’ve put together a checklist to help you keep all of your campaign details straight. Or watch this short video on how to increase the effectiveness of your ads and budget. These will help ensure that you’re tapping into the right audience with the right ad at the right time.


Facebook offers a variety of paid ad options and placements, but all ads can be broken down into three elements:

  1. Campaigns. The campaign houses all of your assets.
  2. Ad sets. If you’re targeting separate audiences with different characteristics, you’ll need an individual ad set for each.
  3. Ads. Your actual ads live within your ad sets. Each ad set can hold a variety of ads that vary in color, copy, images, etc.

With that terminology out of the way, let’s dive in to creating an ad.

1. Create an account with Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook’s Ad Manager is a sophisticated dashboard that provides users with an overview of all their campaigns.

Upfront, the dashboard highlights an estimate of how much you’re spending each day. The dashboard is organized by columns, which makes it easy to filter through your ads so you can create a custom view of your results. Key numbers like reach, frequency, and cost are readily available, making reporting on performance a no brainer.

In order to use the Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll need a Facebook Business Page (learn how to set one up here). This is because you can’t run ads through personal profiles.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to
  2. Click the button that says “Go to Ads Manager.”
  3. Confirm your information on the ad account setup page.
  4. Set up your payment method.
  5. Save changes.

Once set up, the Ads Manager becomes the control center for your Facebook ads.

2. Start creating an ad through Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Once you log into the Ads Manager, you’ll see a performance dashboard where all of your campaigns, ad sets, and ads will be listed including the results they’ve driven for your Facebook page. Unless you’ve already created an ad for your Facebook page, this dashboard will be empty.

To create a new campaign, ad set, or ad through the Facebook Ad Manager, tab over to the type of ad you want to create and click the green “Create” button to far left of these ad types, as shown below. You can see from this screenshot that we’re currently set to create a new campaign.

facebook ad manager create a new ad button

3. Choose an objective.

Facebook’s Ads Manager, like many social media advertising networks, is designed with your campaign objective in mind. Before getting started, Ads Manager will prompt you to choose an objective for your campaign:

facebook ad campaign objective

There are 11 different objectives to choose from. The list includes everything from general brand awareness, to getting installs of your app, to increasing traffic to your online store.

By choosing one of these objectives, you’re giving Facebook a better idea of what you’d like to do so they can present you with the best-suited ad options. As shown in the screenshot above, Facebook’s ad options include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Website traffic
  • Engagement
  • App installs
  • Video views
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalog sales
  • Store traffic

Let’s say, for sake of this blog post, you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website. When you select this option, Facebook will prompt you to enter the URL you’re looking to promote. If you’re using marketing automation software, be sure to create a unique tracking URL with UTM parameters for this to ensure that you’ll be able to keep track of traffic and conversions from this ad. For HubSpot customers, this can be done using the Tracking URL Builder.

Once selected, Facebook will then display the ad option that makes the most sense in terms of achieving this objective.

4. Choose your audience.

Your next step is to configure your target audience — you can do this for each ad set that belongs to the same campaign. If you’re just starting out with paid advertising on Facebook, it’s likely that you’ll have to experiment with several different targeting options until you reach an audience that fits just right.

To help you narrow your focus, Facebook’s targeting criteria are accompanied by an audience definition gauge. This tool — located to the right of the audience targeting fields — takes all of your selected properties into consideration in order to come up with a potential reach number.

If you’re wavering between choosing a specific audience over a broad one, consider your objective. If you’re looking to drive traffic, you’ll probably want to focus on the type of people you know will be interested in your offering. However, if you’re looking to build brand awareness or promote a widely appealing offer, feel free to focus on a more general audience.

Audience creation page in the Facebook Ad Manager

Facebook’s built-in targeting is vast, including options such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Relationship
  • Education
  • Work
  • Financial
  • Home
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents
  • Politics (U.S. only)
  • Life Events
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

You also have the option to select a Custom Audience — this allows you to target people on Facebook who are in your company’s contact database, visited a page on your website that has a tracking pixel, or use your app or game. To learn more about how to set up a Custom Audience on Facebook, check out these instructions. (And for more on the specifics of these criteria, visit this Facebook targeting resource.)

Once you find a group that responds well to your ads, Facebook allows you to save these audiences to be used again later — so you may not need to dive into this step once you’ve been running Facebook ads for a while.

5. Set your budget.

Facebook allows you to set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget. Here’s how they differ from each other:

  • Daily budget. If you want your ad set to run continuously throughout the day, this is the option you’ll want to go for. Using a daily budget means that Facebook will pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that the minimum daily budget for an ad set is $1.00 USD and must be at least 2X your CPC.
  • Lifetime budget. If you’re looking to run your ad for a specified length of time, select lifetime budget. This means Facebook will pace your spend over the time period you set for the ad to run.

facebook ad budget and schedule page

To further specify your budgeting, turn to the advanced options — this option is linked at the bottom of the screenshot shown above. This section allows you to specify a few things:


Choose whether or not your want your campaign to run immediately and continuously or if you want to customize the start and end dates. You can also set parameters so that your ads only run during specific hours and days of the week.

Optimization & Pricing

Choose whether or not you want to bid for your objective, clicks, or impressions. (This will alter how your ad is displayed and paid for.) By doing so, you’ll pay for your ad to be shown to people within your target audience that are more likely to complete your desired action, but Facebook will control what your maximum bid is.

If you don’t want Facebook to set optimal bids for you, you’ll want to opt for manual bidding. This option awards you full control over how much you’re willing to pay per action completed. However, Facebook will provide a suggested bid based on other advertisers’ behavior to give you a sense of what you should shoot for.


Delivery type falls under two categories: standard and accelerated. Standard delivery will show your ads throughout the day, while accelerated delivery helps you reach an audience quickly for time-sensitive ads (Note: this option requires manual bid pricing).

6. Create your ad.

What do you want your ad to look like? It all depends on your original objective.

If you’re looking to increase the number of clicks to your website, Facebook’s Ad Manager will suggest the Clicks to Website ad options. Makes sense, right?

This ad option is broken down into two formats: Links and Carousels. Essentially, this means that you can either display a single image ad (Links) or a multi-image ad (Carousel) with three to five scrolling images at no additional cost.

A Links ad will be displayed like this:

Facebook Ad with link to Shop Now

A Carousel ad will be displayed like this:

Example of a Facebook Carousel Ad with images of Grand Canyon

Once you decide between the two, you’ll need to upload your creative assets. It’s important to note that for each type of ad, Facebook requires users to adhere to certain design criteria.

For single image ads, Facebook asks that users adhere to the following design recommendations:

  • Text: 125 characters
  • Ad Headline: 25 characters
  • Image ratio: 1.91:1
  • Image resolution (including CTA): 1080 x 1080 pixels

For multi-image ads — also known as Carousel Ads — Facebook provides the following design recommendations:

  • Recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1:1
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
Your image may not include more than 20% text. See how much text is on your image.

Keep in mind that these are the ad options for the “Traffic” objective.

If you selected “boost your posts,” you’d be presented with different ad options like the Page Post Engagement: Photo ad. This ad has a unique set of design recommendations. To explore all of the ad options and their design specifics, refer to this resource.

Once you select an ad type, the Ads Manager will prompt you to identify how you’d like to display your ad. The options they provide are as follows: Desktop News Feed, Mobile News Feed, and Desktop Right Column.

Here’s how each ad would appear:

Desktop News Feed

Facebook Ad with single image on a desktop news feed

Mobile News Feed

Facebook ad with single image on mobile news feed

Desktop Right Column

Facebook Ad with single image on desktop right column

Be aware if your ad isn’t associated with a Facebook page, you’ll only be able to run Desktop Right Column ads. To leverage all three display locations, you can learn how to create a Facebook Page here.

7. Monitor your ad’s performance metrics.

Once your ads are running, you’ll want to keep an eye on how they’re doing. To see their results, you’ll want to look in two places: the Facebook Ad Manager and your marketing software.

According to Facebook, here are some of the key metrics to look for (and their definitions):

  • Performance. Can be customized further to include metrics like results, reach, frequency and impressions
  • Engagement. Can be customized further to include metrics like Page likes, Page engagement and post engagement
  • Videos. Can be customized further to include metrics like video views and avg. % of video viewed
  • Website. Can be customized further to include metrics like website actions (all), checkouts, payment details, purchases and adds to cart
  • Apps. Can be further customized to include metrics like app installs, app engagement, credit spends, mobile app actions and cost per app engagement
  • Events. Can be further customized to include metrics like event responses and cost per event response
  • Clicks. Can be further customized to include metrics like clicks, unique clicks, CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (cost per click)
  • Settings. Can be further customized to include metrics like start date, end date, ad set name, ad ID, delivery, bid and objective

Regardless of which of these metrics you use to measure the success of your advertising efforts, you can find the data in the Ads Manager.

As you analyze, you’ll be thinking about your data in four main ways, depending on how granular you need to get:

  • The account level
  • The campaign level
  • The ad set level
  • The ad level

The Account Level

This gives a high-level view of performance across all campaigns. You’ll find aggregate data that gives you a bird’s eye view.

Simply navigate to the ads manager and click Account Overview. From there, you’ll be able to customize the metrics you want to see drill down time ranges, and more.

The Campaign, Ad Set, or Ad Level

You can also get far more specific with your analysis by checking the performance of campaigns and even down to individual ads. This can help you figure out which messaging, audiences, and collateral are resonating the best.

All you have to do is navigate to the Campaigns, Ad Sets, or Ads tabs next to Account Overview in the ads manager.

8. Reporting on Facebook ad performance.

You can receive custom reports via email as well. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Navigate to Analyze and Report through the upper main menu.
  2. Choose Ads Reporting.
  3. Select Create Custom Report.
  4. Select and open a saved report.
  5. Choose Save As next to the save icon. Give your report a name and check Schedule Email.
  6. Follow the prompts to edit and confirm your reporting preferences.

While there are certainly a lot of details to keep straight when planning a paid Facebook ad, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of the big picture. Reporting on clicks and conversions from Facebook is important. However, if you’re using URLs with specific UTM codes, you have an opportunity to measure your ads’ full-funnel effectiveness using your marketing software.

Tracking URLs will help your marketing software keep track of how many leads, or better yet, how many customers you’ve gained from your advertising efforts. This information is useful in determining the ROI of this source, and can also be used to inform your overall Facebook marketing strategy.

If you’re a HubSpot customer using our ads tool, this process is already taken care of for you. You can also create unique tracking codes for your Facebook campaign by navigating to the Tracking URL Builder on the Reports Home page. All you’ll need to do is plug in the URL, attach a campaign, and choose the source you want the URL to be attributed to in your Sources Report. Once your ad launches and you start getting traffic and conversions on your website, you’ll be able to easily track how many visits, contacts, and customers you’re generating.

Now that you know how to set up an ad, it’s time to create one of your own so that you can spread brand awareness on Facebook and generate traffic and leads from your ideal prospects on the platform. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

A/B Testing on Facebook: How to Do It Right

According to HubSpot research, Facebook is the top distribution channel for content, and provides the biggest ROI for marketers.

In fact, over half of marketers agree that Facebook is where they see the most ROI, and Facebook Advertising is one of the top features for hitting those goals. Are you one of the marketers that can relate?

To illustrate, do you always have a tab devoted to Facebook Advertising efforts? Is one of your daily tasks to check the performance of your landing page ads?

Further, are you testing those ads before they get published?

Free Download: A/B Testing Guide and Kit

Facebook offers so many ways to test the performance of your ads before they go live. One of the most popular tools Facebook offers is A/B testing.

A/B testing, or split testing, is a term used to describe the process of running marketing experiments to see which version connects better with your audience. Usually, they’re tested simultaneously, and the variables can be anything from layout, copy, or multimedia.

A/B testing is a very popular marketing method because it gives marketers an idea of what types of ads or UX visuals earn the highest conversion rates. Essentially, if you run an A/B test, you can begin to identify the performance of a piece of content before publishing.

Here, let’s dive into how you can A/B test your marketing ads on Facebook.

A/B Testing Facebook Ads

On Facebook, you can create A/B tests in multiple ways. This is dependent on the variable you want to test.

Fortunately, you can create an A/B test within the Ads Manager Toolbar. The Toolbar will let you use an ad campaign you’ve already created as a jumping off point for your new test.

Toolbar isn’t your only option, though — in the next section, we’ll cover all the ways you can A/B test your ads.

When A/B testing on Facebook, you can either access the Toolbar from your Ads Manager, duplicate a campaign or ad set, or use the Experiments tool.

First, let’s go over the Toolbar method.

How to use Toolbar to create Facebook A/B tests

Toolbar lets you quickly perform a test using a dropdown box located in Ads Manager. Here’s how:

1. Select “A/B Test”

When you access Ads Manager, go to the “Campaigns” tab. Under that tab, you’ll see an option for “A/B Test.” Keep in mind that you’ll need to have an existing ad campaign or campaign draft in order to complete the test.

When you choose that option, this is what you’ll see if you don’t have an existing campaign:

Ads manager A/B test in ToolbarSelect your desired campaign, and then you can choose which variable you want to test.

2. Choose A Variable

There are several different options for variable testing, and they’re categorized based on the goals of your campaign.

The variables are as follows:

  • Audience —This variable will look at the effectiveness of your ads based on the audiences you aim to reach. For instance, you can test different audiences based on region.
  • Creative — Creative A/B tests will focus on the visual assets of your ad. So if you want to test different images, videos, or carousel, you will choose the “Creative” option.
  • Placements — If you want to test where on Facebook your ad will be most effective, you’ll want to pick “Placements.” This option allows you to test automatic placements.
  • Delivery Optimization — This A/B test option is used to compare ads with budget optimization and without, in order to gauge the performance of both. For instance, if you are unsure if you should spend more to optimize a certain ad to gain more conversions, this would be the proper test to run.
  • More than one — Let’s say you want to test multiple variables on an A/B test in order to compare a strategy that’s more complex. In this case, you’d want to choose a “More than one” test, which will allow you to test based on the same cost per result or cost per conversion lift.
  • Product Set — If you want to test different sets of products, you’ll want to go with this choice. You can choose two product sets to run on Facebook.

All of these variables can be managed from the “Ad Set” tab in Ads Manager, which is right next to the “Campaigns” tab.

Once you’ve chosen your test type, you’ll be ready to perform your test. You can check the status of your test in Ads Manager, and choose how long you want your test to run. To find the progress or check the status of your ads, check your “Account Overview” tab, and look for the icon that resembles a beaker:

Ads Manager test resultsIf you find that you want to go with a different route for your A/B test, there are also options to set them up differently. For instance, let’s talk about duplication next.

How to use Duplication to create Facebook A/B tests

When you choose this option, you can easily create a test by changing one variable in a nearly identical campaign or ad set. This is for ads or campaigns that have already been created.

1. Access Ads Manager

When you go to Ads Manager, go to your “Campaigns” tab. Here, you’ll see a list of your campaigns that are currently running. You’ll also see your drafted campaigns. You can choose either for duplication.

2. Select “Duplicate”

After you’ve decided which campaign or ad set you want to test, highlight the section under the title and you’ll see a “Duplicate” option. When you click it, this is what you’ll see:

Duplicate campaign, step one

Select the option that notates creating a duplicate specifically for an A/B Test. Remember, this option will let you choose a variable to change to analyze performance, so choose a campaign that fits that criteria.

3. Choose A Variable

If you’re choosing an ad set to duplicate, Facebook will provide suggestions of which variable to change for you, and you can pick from there. I chose traffic, but you can choose based on your ad type or audience.

4. Publish To Test

After choosing your variable, you’ll see your tests next to each other in a preview. After making any necessary changes in this stage, you’ll be ready to publish. To do this, click the green button underneath the audience you’ve selected:

How to publish your test in DuplicateWhen you publish your test, audiences will be able to interact with them, so make sure you’ve ironed out all the details before finalizing. However, you’ll be able to check back on your test in Ads Manager to access the most current insights.

Next, we’ll cover my favorite option: Experiments.

How to use Experiments to A/B create Facebook A/B tests

The Experiments tool lets you create or duplicate ad campaigns to test. The difference between using Experiments to test instead of Ads Manager is the ability to fine-tune and learn more about the impact of your test while it’s running.

1. Access Experiments

This test won’t run in Ad Manager. Instead, you’ll go to the top of your Business account and select “Experiments” under “Measure & Report.” You can also search “Experiments” in the search bar. This is what you’ll see when you access the Experiments page:

AB test through Experiments step one


2. Select “A/B Test”

Click “Get Started” underneath the “A/B Test” option. When you do this, you’ll be taken to a menu that lets you fill in the ad details. For example, you’ll have to choose the campaign you want to test:

Experiments tool AB test details

Here, you can schedule the run time of your test, fill in the test name, and even decide how you want Facebook to choose the winning campaign. You can either choose cost per result or cost per conversion lift:

More Experiments test detailsWhen you’re finished filling in the details, Facebook will show you how powerful your test is. Essentially, this is to make sure that your draft fits the criteria of an A/B test before you publish. After filling out this menu, you’ll be ready to push your experiment live.

Facebook uses the same base technology to run your A/B tests. The different versions of tests you can run help you make the best choices to optimize ad performance. No matter which test you run, however, you can see all of your results in “Test and Learn” when they’re finished.

Next, let’s go over some best practices for running your A/B test on Facebook.

Facebook A/B Test Best Practices

Keep these best practices in mind before you begin your split test — they’ll help you run tests that are valuable and applicable to your next campaign.

1. Choose one variable that’ll help you reach your goals.

When you A/B test on Facebook, make sure you’re only choosing one variable to test. There’s a separate multivariate test that you can run, but for A/B, one variable is key. Your test results will be more conclusive with only one variable.

2. Pick audiences that you want to reach with ads.

Choose a new audience for your test. They should be large enough to provide measurable results, but shouldn’t be the exact same audience as a campaign you’re already running. If they’re the same as a drafted campaign, that’s okay because they’re not published.

However, if you choose the exact same audience as a campaign you’re already running, Facebook’s system might mix up your ads and provide contaminated results.

3. Use hypotheses that are measurable and valuable.

In order to analyze your test results so they’re the most valuable to you, make sure your hypothesis is measurable. To put it another way: Make sure your hypothesis is clear, easy to understand, and able to be determined with an A/B test.

Your hypothesis can be as simple as, “Which method of delivery do my audience members respond the best to?” This question can be answered by using the Delivery Optimization A/B test on Facebook.

4. Make time frames that are ideal.

Recall that when you set up your A/B test, you can choose a time frame. You can choose to run your test for up to 30 days. Facebook’s Business Center suggests at least four days, which is enough time for the technology to produce accurate results.

5. Choose a budget that works for your business.

Facebook can provide an ideal budget for you based on your test details, or you can choose an ideal budget for yourself when you’re filling in test details. Setting an ideal budget will help you determine a winning strategy — it factors in Ad Spend into the success of your test.

According to one of HubSpot’s Paid Ads specialists, Nicole Ondracek, “A big value of split testing is being able to prevent audience overlap so you know that the same audience is not seeing multiple variants which could affect the results. That way, you can confidently say which one is the clear winner.”

A/B testing gives you a better understanding of audience behavior. Performing them on Facebook streamlines the process and gives you more comfortability with Facebook’s ad system.

Additionally, Ondracek mentions that depending on split testing results, advertisers can begin to shape what type of creative they need to use for the future.

How will you use split testing on Facebook to help your creative advertising efforts?

The Ultimate A/B Testing Kit

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