Facebook Ad Types, Instagram Ad Types: What’s Right for You?

Facebook ads and Instagram ads are numerous, and ever-evolving. Amid a sea of options, it can be difficult to determine which ad types are best to help you meet your business goals. Since the launch of advertising to the platform in 2007, Facebook’s ad offerings have grown and changed rapidly, evolving from high cost, limited inventory right-hand rail ads to the beautiful eye-catching audio visual ad formats you see today.  

Through the years, we’ve been fortunate to test many different Facebook ad types and creative formats. Below, you will find an exhaustive list of Facebook ad types, Instagram ad types, and a number of tips & tricks to help you make the right decisions.

Newsfeed Image Ads

Endorsed by Facebook, studies from the Mobile Marketing Association show that people can cognitively recognize ads in the mobile newsfeed in as little as 0.4 seconds. A well-constructed, concise image ad is a fast and effective way of communicating your messaging. Done right, still image ads can be some of the most informative, fundamental and efficient ad formats in your suite of ad type options. 

Why still image ads?

These ads are the Swiss Army Knife of Facebook ad types, they do it all. They can quickly communicate promotions and sales, introduce users to a new brand or product, spark on-platform engagements, and drive users off Facebook to your website. When driving to a secondary site, any clicks on the image will drive to your landing page and your image will be accompanied by a call-to-action (CTA) button that encourages specific actions like Shop Now, Learn More and Watch Video.

Where do image ads run? 

Image ads can appear in the newsfeed, the messenger inbox, instant articles within the facebook app, Facebook marketplace, and the right hand column. We recommend opting out of the right column, as these placements are not typically as effective for most business goals. The right hand column, Facebook’s original ad placement for image ads, is a low-impact impression that typically converts at a low rate

Which creative for image ads is best?

  • Use square images. 1×1 imagery takes up more space in the newsfeed than a traditional 16×9 image. More screenshare typically drives higher CTR’s and more traffic because your ad is not competing for attention. 
  • Keep text to a minimum. Limit text to <20% of the image area, or else your ads could be disapproved or experience extremely limited ad serve. Facebook’s algorithm favors images with limited text content.
  • Be bold. Use eye-catching colors and imagery to cut through clutter. Images of faces, animals, and food tend to perform better than stock imagery of scenery or text only graphics. However, there are some instances where a text-only image has outperformed all other creatives. During limited-time offers, savings and urgency are two of your most powerful messages. We have seen bold, text-only ads still catch people’s eyes with deal-focused messaging and countdown imagery.
Gupta Media ad for Facebook Ad Type article, Fender Image Ad
Gupta Media ad for Facebook Ad Type article, Supercross Image Ad

Video Ads

Like image ads, video ads are a very versatile ad format. These are excellent for driving awareness of a new brand or product, educating users about more complex products and services, and engaging users with a content piece. These are the most heavily used Facebook ad type for our agency.

Why video ads? 

Compared to image ads, video ads typically see stronger click-through rates to secondary sites, higher rates of engagement on the post itself, and longer amounts of time spent engaging with content. 

Where do video ads run? 

Video ads typically have the most available inventory within newsfeeds on Facebook and Instagram. These can also run as in-stream videos, these would be the video ads that play in between other Facebook videos viewed in succession. These can be cost efficient, but we do recommend you’re careful about where these ads run, as video ads which run between or in the middle of  sensitive video pieces can be harmful for brand reputation. Facebook does allow you to blacklist certain videos and content types, which we do recommend utilizing for brand safety purposes. 

Gupta Media ad for Facebook Ad Type article, Red Bull Video Ads

Which creative for video ads is best?

  • Use 4×5 ratios. This ratio takes up the most space in a users newsfeed which makes it the most impactful ratio for video on Facebook and Instagram. It allows for nearly full screen viewership giving your ad a full share of voice.
  • Keep content short. Facebook accepts video ads up to 240 minutes in length, but we recommend going much shorter. Aim for 15 – 30 seconds. 
  • Optimize for sound-off viewing. Up to 85% of users watch videos without any sound on. Use subtitles and text overlays to communicate your message without any sound.. 
  • User Generated Content. Well-produced user generated content or videos of key advocates and representatives of your brand help demonstrate an authenticity to your audience. That helps form a deeper connection with your audience and maintains interest. It must feel natural and authentic, feigned authenticity can backfire. 

Carousel Ads

When you have multiple products and images to showcase in your messaging, carousel ads can be a great fit. These can utilize both video and images within the same ad unit, and can tell a more in depth story than a single image or video. 

Why carousel ads?

These can be a highly engaging ad unit, and can be used to showcase a variety of products and different creative pieces, all within one ad unit.  

Carousels can also allow for multiple links within one ad unit, allowing you to send users to different products or product tiers within your site, or to different retailer sites entirely. Many of our record label clients love utilizing these ad formats, as they allow us to give the viewer the choice to click through to their favorite music streaming platform. 

Where do carousel ads run? 

Carousel ads can run within the same placements as image ads, within feeds, marketplace, & the messenger inbox. 

Which creative for carousel ads is best?

  • 1×1 videos and images fit best within the carousel format
  • Keep text limited, as small text may not be legible when sized down for the carousel format vs. the newsfeed format 

Story Ads

With the growth of Instagram Stories in recent years, it’s no surprise that the Story format is rapidly becoming one of the most successful Instagram ad types. These are useful for both branding and direct response focused campaigns, and can be used to both drive awareness and showcase products for sale. 

Why Story Ads?

Story ads are a full screen ad experience, and are primarily viewed with sound on. This makes them a highly impactful ad unit. 

Where do story ads run?

Story ads run in both Facebook Story and Instagram Story placements. 

Which creative for story ads is best?

  • 9×16 ratio is the best fit for stories, both for image and video pieces.
  • Video is typically more impactful for Stories, as it stays on screen for up to 15 seconds for a single piece, and 45 seconds for a story carousel. 

Collection Ads

Collection ads are one of the most engaging ad units for showcasing an array of products. 

Why Collection Ads? 

These ad units are both interactive and full-screen experiences, allowing you to grab attention quickly, as well as provide detailed information on a range of products. Collection ads can feature a combination of image and video

Both collection ads and carousel ads can be linked directly to the product catalog from your e-commerce store, allowing you to serve products to users based on what they’ve previously viewed on your store’s site. These features allow for prospecting,  upselling, and cross-selling of products. 

Where do collection ads run?

Collection ads are a mobile newsfeed only ad unit. 

Which creative for collection ads is best?

We’ve found most success using a 1×1 ratio video, accompanied by a set of clear, colorful and eye-catching product images. 

Offer Ads

Although they at first look like typical newsfeed image or video ads, offer ads are actually a very robust sales-focused Facebook ad type. This ad type allows for simple promotion of limited time offers and includes a reminder email feature to let interested users know when the offer time period is almost up.

Why Offer Ads?

These have proven to be a strong sales-driving tactic. Once users view the ads, and click the “Get Offer Button”, they receive an email reminder and the offer is saved within their Facebook Offers profile. On the day prior to the offer expiring, a second email reminder is sent as well as an in-platform notification. Facebook Offer Ads essentially provide an opportunity for up to four separate impressions for the price of one, with two being served in the final moments of the promotion while urgency is peaked. 

One downside to offer ads is that Facebook required Offer Ads to be housed in their own Ad Set, and therefore you cannot test Offer Ads against other creative from within the same Ad Set. Similarly, you cannot centralize engagements across many Offer Ads like you can with other ads. Since all Offer Ads create their own unique ad, engagements will be spread across many ads if you are targeting many different audiences. Still, these structural obstacles are often eclipsed by performance improvements thanks to the unique functionality Offer Ads present.

Where do offer ads run?

Offer ads are available only within the mobile newsfeed on both Facebook and Instagram.

Which creative for offer ads is best?

What is great about offer ads is that you can easily repurpose your existing image, video, and carousel ad content to fit this ad type. 

Facebook Offer Ad 1

Lead Generation Ads:

If driving email sign-ups and collection email, phone number, or address information is important for your business, Facebook’s lead ad format will be an incredibly helpful tool for you. 

Why Lead Ads?

Lead ads allow you to collect a variety of information about potential interested customers, such as emails, phone numbers, addresses, and more. These can be a cost effective tool for generating interest in your business and populating the top of your sales funnel. 

These ads can be connected to your CRM system directly, so that this information automatically flows through once a user signs up.

Where do lead ads run?

Lead ads can run in both Facebook and Instagram feeds on mobile. 

Which creative is best? 

  • Both image and video can be used. 
  • 1×1 ratios are recommended. 
  • Keep content short, under 15 seconds. 
Gupta Media ad for Facebook Lead Gen 1

Instant Experiences

These are Facebook’s most immersive ad type, allowing for an in-depth combination of videos, images, carousels, and more within a micro-site ad experience. We’ve seen a number of clients start using Instant Experiences more often recently, but you may remember Facebook rolling these out in 2016 as the “Facebook Canvas” ad type. 

Why Instant Experiences:

As these ad units are so in-depth, they are ideal for branding a new product or service, and educating viewers on more complex and new topics. They could even be used to construct a story or avant-garde branding experience. The beauty of Instant Experiences is that with a well-designed layout, the potential for expression is limitless. 

Where do Instant Experience ads run?

These are available on both Facebook and Instagram Newsfeed, as well as the Story placement. 

Which creative is best? 

Creatively, the Instant Experience should tell one cohesive story about your brand or services. It should be easy to navigate through the experience, and inspire users to continue along the journey as they move through the ad unit. 

Facebook Instant Experiences ad example.

App Ads: 

If driving downloads of your mobile app is important to your business, Facebook/Instagram’s app ad format is the most cost-efficient way to achieve this goal on the platform.

Why App Ads?

Not only do these allow you to optimize for users downloading your app, this format can also enable you to optimize toward specific events within an app, such as purchases or content views. Facebook and Instagram’s strong targeting capabilities can help you ensure that you’re reaching the right users who would be most interesting in using your app over the long term. 

Where do App Ads run?

App ads are available on both Facebook and Instagram newsfeed, as well as Instream Video and Messenger Inbox placements. 

Which creative for App Ads is best? 

Both single image and video can be used in-app ads, as well as carousel creative. Adhere to the specs we listed above for both, and make sure to include information for the viewer on the key benefits and long term value proposition of the app. 

Gupta Media ad for Amazon Music Unlimited app.
Gupta Media ad Red Bull TV app.

View Related Articles