A Guide To Facebook Ads

I've been wanting to write an in-depth guide on Facebook Ads for a while now. As a media buyer and product marketer (especially as someone who is new in their career), I believe that Facebook is a fantastic platform to learn. If there's anyone out there who is thinking about becoming a digital marketer, I would wholeheartedly recommend learning how to use the Facebook Ads platform.

Best of all, it's not all that hard to learn the basics! So that's what this guide is, to introduce you to the basic fundamentals and get you up and running with your first campaign!

A guide to Facebook Ads.

Facebook Advertising can be extremely effective for promoting your business, driving traffic and generating leads. With over a billion daily active users, a wide variety of campaign and ad types, and advanced targeting features, knowing how to run advertising campaigns on Facebook is an essential skills for modern digital marketers. 

The folks over at Facebook are constantly improving their ad platform -- which means that advertisers are being given more and more tools to run successful ad campaigns. 

Me personally? I’m really nerdy about this shit and I think that new marketers can learn a lot from running small campaigns on Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, you can buy ads. Best of all, it’s not even that hard to pick up. If you are new to digital advertising or media buying, it’s the platform to learn. 

In this guide, I’m going to introduce you to basic concepts and fundamentals behind Facebook Ads and how to launch your own campaign. 

Why Facebook Ads?

Over the past few years, many pundits have called Facebook “pay-to-play”. What they mean is that in order to get seen on Facebook, you need to shell out some cash. While social media managers cry that “organic reach is dead”, Facebook’s Ad platform is the place to be right now if you are a digital marketer or a media buyer. 

With a massive user base of engaged users and more adtech than you could possibly know what to do with, advertising on Facebook has never made more sense. And if you’re new to digital marketing or media buying, it can be a great platform to learn the ropes of advertising. 

The Facebook Pixel

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of running an ad campaign, we need to talk about the Facebook Pixel.

The Facebook Pixel is a piece of Javascript code that allows you to measure, optimize and build audiences for your campaigns. 

Now before I lose you, the Pixel is the essential ingredient to running advertising campaigns on Facebook. So don’t get scared by the word “code”. You’ll simply install the Pixel Base Code on your site, confirm it works, and you’re good to go. 

When a user lands on your website, the Pixel will “fire” and information about the visitor and what page they’re on will be recorded and sent to Facebook. Using the Pixel, you can track events, define conversions, optimize your ad delivery, create custom audiences and access audience insights to learn more about the people visiting your website and how they take action. 

The key feature of the Pixel is the ability to retarget your campaigns to people who are already familiar with your brand or have engaged with your content. 

The Pixel gives the ability to make informed decisions and run more effective campaigns. It’s a must-have if you are running campaigns on Facebook.

The Facebook Pixel Infographic

Creating Audiences

The Pixel’s primary feature is the ability to retarget your campaigns to people who are already familiar with your brand. Custom Audiences can be created from Website Traffic -- that means that you can target your ads to people who have already visited your page. 

Audiences are a crucial ingredient to running successful Facebook ads. Using the pixel makes it extremely easy to create razer-target audiences. Running traffic to people already familiar with your brand is extremely cost effective and can result in better conversions than running ads to people who have no idea who you are. 

Using the buyer’s journey to your advantage will do wonders for your conversion rate and help you become a better media buyer. Every person who is exposed to your brand is at a different stage in the buyer’s journey and you need to tailor your advertising to accordingly. 

With the Facebook Pixel, you can segment your audiences based on the different stages of your buyer’s journey/sales funnel. The most basic use case is to target your ads to people who have previously visited your website. The cost-per-impression to reach these users is reduced because there is a smaller pool of advertisers bidding on those impressions. Your ad is then also being shown to someone who already knows who you are. 

Tracking Conversions

The Facebook Pixel gives you the ability to define and track conversions on your website. The Pixel provides two ways to track conversions; Standard Events and Custom Conversions. 

Standard Events are small snippets that you add to the Pixel on conversion pages. When the Pixel fires on those page, they will be tracked as Standard Events. Facebook provides several default events to get you started, but you can always define your own Custom Events. 

Custom Conversions are used to track specific actions. With the Pixel installed on every page, Facebook already has all the data it needs. Using Custom Conversions, you can define the rules that will trigger a conversion.  These custom conversions can then be used in Campaigns to track the effectiveness of a particular ad-set. 

Optimizing Campaigns

In addition to retargeting users and tracking conversions, the pixel will also optimize your ad delivery based on the type campaign you are running. With the Pixel installed, Facebook will optimize ad delivery to show your ads to users who are more likely to convert or take action. 

Installing The Pixel

To install the Facebook Pixel on your site, go to the “Ads Manager” and navigate to “Pixels”. Click on the “Setup Pixel” button and grab your Pixel Base code. You’ll need to install it in the <header> section of every page on your website. When you’re all done, install the “Pixel Helper” extension to ensure the pixel is firing correctly. 

It’s really that easy; there’s no excuse not install the Pixel!

Ad Campaign Structure

Facebook Ads Campaign Structure Screenshot

The structure of an advertising campaign varies from platform to platform but the overall basics generally stay the same. When you are getting started with media buying and digital advertising, it’s important to understand how these platforms want you to structure your account so you can effectively analyze, optimize and scale your campaigns.

Facebook’s campaign structure uses three tiers; Campaigns, Ad Sets, and Ads.

To create a campaign, you’ll choose the type of ad you want to run (campaign), the budget you want to spend and the audience you want to target (ad set), and finally the creative and copy you want use (ad). 

Facebook Ads Campaign Structure Infographic.

Campaigns

Campaigns are used to define what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. They are the top-level tier that the rest of your campaign is structured in and are used to define your Marketing Objective and Campaign Type. 

Every campaign starts with an objective. What do you want to achieve with your campaign? Do you want to generate awareness for your brand? Do you want more likes, comments and shares on your posts?  Are you looking to drive traffic to your website and track conversions? 

Knowing the answer to what you want to achieve with Facebook Ads  is your first step to a successful campaign (or any campaign, really). It will help dictate everything else you do; from who you want to target to the copy and creative you’ll use in the ad. 

There are 11 types of campaigns or objectives:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Local Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App Installs
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Conversion
  • Product Catalog Sales
  • Store Visits
Types of Campaigns In Facebook Ads Manager

Depending on the type of campaign you want to run (or the objective you want to achieve), Facebook will automatically adjust the campaign’s settings according the objective you want to achieve. For example, if you were to choose “Conversions” as your objective, you will need to select a conversion event to track and measure your campaign against. 

The campaign level is used for setting your objective as well as setting a spending limit. Campaigns hold ad-sets.

Ad Sets

Ad Sets are used to tell your ads how to run. When creating an Ad Set, you’ll define your Audience (who you want your ad to be shown to), Placements (where your ads will appear) and Budget (how much you want to spend). You are allowed to create multiple ad sets in a single campaign; that means that you choose specific audience targeting, budgets and placements for individual ad-sets. 

The ad-set level is used for audience targeting, placement selection, and budgeting. Ad-sets hold ads.

Audience targeting in Facebook Ads

Audiences

There’s no shortage of targeting options on Facebook. It shouldn’t be any surprise that Facebook knows a lot about their users; and they’ve made all that data available to their advertisers.  Audiences are used to define and target who you want to see your ad. 

When creating an audience, you can target locations, demographics, interests, behavior, and Facebook connections. Detailed targeting gives you ability to promote your ad to very specific types of people. 

Audiences are one of the most important part of your ad strategy so put a focus on building specific audiences based on your customer personas (your ideal customer). 

There are three types of Audiences; Saved Audiences, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.  

Saved Audiences allow you to save Audiences that you have previously created and use them in future campaigns. This makes testing audiences and honing in on your personas really easy. Creating Saved Audiences allows you to re-use audiences from past campaigns. 

Custom Audiences allow you to create audiences based on a website traffic, customer CSV files, app activity, or engagement on the platform. Creating Custom Audiences opens up a whole new world of advertising strategies known as “retargeting”. Retargeting is the process of showing ads to users who are already familiar with your brand which results is lower cost, increased conversions and brand awareness. 

Lookalike Audiences are users who are similar to your Saved or Custom Audiences. Using Lookalike Audiences, Facebook will use a “source audience” to identify common themes and then create a new audience based on those themes. What you’re left with is a brand new audience of people who are similar to your current users. 

Placements available in Facebook Ads (FB, Instagram, Audience Network)

Placements

Placements define where your ads will be shown. The Ads Manager taps into Facebook’s entire network/suite of applications including; Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network.

For the most basic of campaigns, you will likely choose “Automatic Placements”. Automatic means that Facebook will show your ads on whatever platform or device will perform best. Editing your placements give you more control over where the ad is shown. For example, you could stop your ads from showing on Instagram. 

Budgeting and Scheduling Your Campaign With Facebook Ads

Budgets & Schedule

The ad-set level is also where you set your budget and choose your scheduling and bidding options. In ad-sets you can set daily or lifetime budgets.  Decide if your campaign will run continuously, or if you want the campaign to start and end on a particular date. Ad delivery optimization and bidding strategy can be further customized in ‘advanced options.

If you are testing multiple strategies and campaigns, it's useful to set a spending limit at the campaign-level and then create multiple ad-sets with different budgets, delivery types, and bidding strategies. 

Ads

Ads are used to persuade your audience to take action (and stay within Facebook’s guidelines).  This is where you define the final copy and creative that is seen by your audience. In addition to choosing to format, you can add media, links, and copy. 

The ad level is creative seen by your audience. 

Format

Format is where you select the type of ad unit you want to use. Facebook accepts several types of formats including; 

  • Carousel (an ad with 2 or more scrollable images or videos)
  • Single Image (up to 6 ads with one image each)
  • Single Video (an ad with one video)
  • Slideshow (looping video ad with up to 10 images)
  • Canvas (an immersive story using images and videos)
Ad Units and Formats available in the Facebook Ads Manager
Your Ad Copy, Creative and Links

Media

Media is where you upload your visual creative which will vary from format-to-format and campaign-to-campaign. Depending on which format you’ve chosen, you will be give recommended image specs. 

For Carousel ads, your images must be 1080 x 1080 pixels. For Image ads, your image must be 1200 x 628 pixels

Pages and Links

Pages and Links are the final step to creating a Facebook Ad. This is where you construct the copy, add links, connect pages and choose a CTA. Within the Ads Manager, you can view a preview of your ad. Make sure it’s exactly as you want it before you place your order and run your campaign.