Building effective creative for paid Facebook campaigns

Facebook campaigns are often thrown together as a last resort to boost bookings or sales. This is because they are easy to set up and have a relatively low cost per conversion. However, they require more thorough planning if they are to be successful.

Facebook campaigns need building, ensuring each step is carefully crafted to ensure you’re able to get what you want out of the campaign and, preferably, for the lowest cost.

With users typically scrolling passively through newsfeeds, you only have a few seconds (maximum!) to grab their attention so, as content creators and advertisers, we don’t have it easy.

Once you’ve set your objective and targeting, all that remains is your creative – don’t fall down at the last hurdle.

Format and placement

Facebook supports a variety of advertising types, enabling your ads to appear on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and/or Audience Network. Each ad is made up of two components: the format and the placement.

Format defines what your ads look like. Choose from single image, single video, slideshow, carousel, collection and instant experience (aka canvas).

Placement defines where you want your ads to be displayed within Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and/or Audience Network:

  • Facebook (feeds, instant articles, in-stream videos, right column, suggested videos, marketplace, stories)
  • Instagram (feed, stories)
  • Messenger (inbox, stories, sponsored messages)
  • Audience Network (native, banner and interstitial, in-stream videos, rewarded videos)

It’s worth bearing in mind that the advertising objective selected at the start of the campaign impacts the formats and placements available to you at the creative stage.


Good copy writing is key to get your message across effectively and, ultimately, for a user to act on your advert.

  • Keep the message clear and concise

Use simple language so users can easily and quickly understand your message when scrolling through their feeds. However, make the most of space! Don’t be afraid to use the fields available to you.

Which takes us nicely onto the next point …

  • Keep in mind which formats and placements you are using

Some will display more copy than others (ie Facebook feed will display more copy than a right column ad) so ensure key information is included in the fields that are displayed consistently across all (or most) of the placements being used.

  • If the ad is for an event or product, add detail

Add dates, costs etc. People want to know this information up front! Avoid leaving the user disappointed by encouraging them to click through to your ad only for them to realise they cannot afford the product or are unavailable on that date.

  • Have one clear call to action

The audience should be able to easily and quickly understand what action they’re meant to take next.

  • Write for your audience

Within Facebook, your audience can be highly targeted, based on age, gender, location, interests, behaviours or connections. You can even create custom audiences, for example users who have already visited a specific webpage. With the ability to target more effectively, don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all approach.

Try splitting out audiences and tailoring copy for each. This may involve more work at first as you have to create multiple ad sets within your campaign but you may see better campaign results in the long term.


  • Use visuals that match your copy

You’ve spent the time writing the copy, so keep your imagery relevant to your message.

  • Try to avoid copy on images or keep minimal at least

Consider the placements being used. Always ask yourself “will I be able to read the copy on mobile or in the right column?”

Ask yourself whether the imagery is accessible to everyone. Is key information displayed on the image? Will this be missed by users with impaired vision or those using a screen reader?

Facebook also has a review process that identifies the amount of image text used in an ad. Images with more than 20% text may be penalised, experiencing reduced delivery. So, if user experience isn’t a good enough reason, do it for yourself.

  • Use authentic imagery

Where possible, steer clear of stock imagery. The audience will be able to relate better to imagery that’s more authentic.

  • Consider different dimensions for different placements

If shown on Instagram feed, would you prefer a square version of the image? Maybe you’d prefer to use a square image for Facebook also, to stand out in the feed? Do you have vertical imagery to use on Instagram stories ads?


  • Use the highest-quality source video available

Keep resolution high and try to avoid using video with black space around the edges (pillar boxing).

  • Choose attention-grabbing video thumbnails

From a user perspective, if the thumbnail is boring it’s likely the video is boring.

  • Consider video orientation

Today, 96% of online video consumption is on mobile (Social Chain, 2018) and people are using their phones vertically 98% of the time (Ogilvy, 2017). In a world centred on convenience, forcing users to turn their phone horizontally to watch video in widescreen is increasingly considered an inconvenience. If we want our video ads to be seen and, more importantly, watched, we need to be creating content that is optimised for mobile and building ads that match how users are consuming content. This means using square or vertical ratios.

  • Integrate captions into your video

85% of Facebook users now watch videos with the sound off (Sprout Social, 2018) and this trend can also be seen across other platforms. It’s therefore important to make sure your video can be understood effectively both with and without sound. Use of captions, and closed captions, ensure the content can be accessed by everyone, including those with hearing impairments or cognitive and learning disabilities.

  • Consider the length of your video

Ads under 15 seconds work best in feed and the top-performing Stories ads are under 10 seconds in length (Facebook and Oracle, Sept 2017). Notice that says ‘under’, so don’t use 10/15 seconds as a target length every time you produce a video. Trial using different video lengths and see what works best for you – shorter could, in fact, be better.

Test, test and test again

Facebook provides a split testing feature that allows you to test different variations of an advert to see which works best and improve future campaigns.

When setting up your next campaign, trial two different ads, varying the imagery or copy, to see which gets the best results.

This also helps to remove personal opinion when building the creative. Only the audience knows what it wants and the results may surprise you!

In need of inspiration?

Facebook has created an Ad Library to provide advertising transparency. What this also means is that we can search and browse all ads currently running across Facebook platforms. Just search for a name, topic or organisation and voila, ads for days!

Happy peeking and, most importantly, …

Happy building!

What’s going on with social media?

We’re always talking about social media, regardless of whether you use it or not, it is always on the periphery. Recently, however, it has come to the very front of our attention. Between Facebook’s data issue, Snapchat’s controversial update and the emergence of a whole new channel, Vero, it seems that it is firmly in the limelight and is picking up pace. In the ever changing world of social media we’re seeing changes at a more intricate and detailed level.

So, what’s going on?

We’ll start with the most controversial one of all, shall we? The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal was a disaster that many people in the sector were waiting to happen. Facebook’s short sighted and lax approach with data has seen 87 million users have their data improperly shared with and used by a third party without their consent. Cambridge Analytica, a company focused on creating psychological profiles of voters to help its client to win elections, claims to purely be using the data for academic purposes, this is somewhat under question by the majority. Naturally, this has caused Facebook’s share value to plummet and has seen Mark Zukerberg become very publicly vocal about the direction of the company.

This all came at a very bad time for Facebook (if there ever is such a thing as a good time for a colossal data breach) as they have also recently addressed user complaints about their algorithms, breaking away from one that put focus on business accounts and refocusing on showing us content from our ‘Friends’. A strong move for Facebook to make but sadly it has been overshadowed by the breach. So, if you’re seeing more images of your Aunt Margaret’s beloved dog and less from Marks & Sparks, the algorithm is why.

From algorithms to updates

From one floundering channel to another; Snapchat has seen, what is arguably, its most challenging year to date. Since rising to the dizzying heights of nearly 200 million users at the end of 2017 Snapchat started falling short of the mark later in the year, stagnating on the stock market. To help address this issue Snapchat released an update which Snap Inc hoped would see the popularity of the app grow. Unfortunately it was gamble that didn’t pay off and resulted in a whopping $1.3 billion drop in their share value following a tweet from “the Queen of Snapchat”, Kylie Jenner, stating that she was “sooo over” the channel.

Since then there have been more dramas for the channel with Rhianna calling it out for allowing an ad trivialising domestic violence and Chrissy Teigen vocally jumping on the bandwagon leaving Snapchat town. It remains to be seen the long term effect that this will have on the channel; however, it seems that another update is being sent the users way. The response it will receive is hotly anticipated but ultimately the question remains; how many more high profile users will denounce the channel, and will the users follow?

From floundering to soaring

Right now, in the ever changing world social media where one foot wrong sends a channel into a freefall, Instagram seems to be a bit of a star student. Despite an algorithm change last year that took away chronological feeds and replaced them with feeds filled with content based on content it thinks the user wants to see, Instagram keeps going from strength to strength. Outstripping Twitter and Snapchat in terms of monthly users the introduction of (the very Snapchat like feature) ‘Stories’ on Instagram has done nothing but see the popularity of the channel grow. Even an issue with a racist gif on its newly released gif feature was just a flash in the pan of bad news with the feature being taken down almost instantaneously to fix the issue. Of course, it could be put down to the current focus being on other channels that this bit of negativity seems to have flown largely under the radar, but it could also be that Instagram is really targeting what social media audiences want. They have addressed the issue around the algorithm and are in part moving back towards a more chronological feed, a subtle yet effective change that is directly addressing what their audience is calling for. A shrewd move. What we shouldn’t forget at this point, however, is that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so any success Instagram has Facebook has too, and likewise any failings Facebook has should bring Instagram into equal question.

And a new social channel is born

Another slight blip in the world of Instagram came in the form a reasonably ‘new’ social channel: Vero. Dubbed as “the new Instagram” by many it promises social media users something that no other channel can currently promise: an algorithm-free newsfeed. Dubbed “True Social” it was created by Lebanese billionaire, Ayman Hariri, with the focus of becoming an ad free, connection focussed channel that would allow users to get see content they want from the people they want as opposed to what businesses pay for them to see. It is totally ad free and promises a chronological feed – something many social media users are crying out for. It has been around for a while but it recently picked up speed when a number of influential Instagram users announced that they were now using it.

The speed it picked up saw Vero face its first public issue: it crashed. It became so popular – seemingly overnight – that the app became unusable by many, resulting in a large flurry of disgruntled users. With overnight popularity comes the skeletons in the closets and very quickly Vero saw it’s ethics brought into question with some users calling out the all majority male task force (1 in 23 of the named team on their site is female and she features at the bottom of the page) and a quick Google of co-founder Ayman Hariri shows political ties and connections to a business that mistreated migrant workers. It seems that these skeletons may have had an effect on its audience because it seems that the Vero storm took place in a teacup.

In the ever evolving social media sphere this is a channel to watch and it will be very interesting to see if this fledgling channel will grow into something bigger.

And finally, Twitter

Interestingly, all is quiet on the Twitter front. Aside from #TwitterLockout which took place in February and was addressed instantly by Twitter referencing their terms of service as by way of explanation, Twitter hasn’t been in the news at all. Which given the disruption across the rest of the sector is a little surprising. It remains steadfast as a staple for instantaneous news for its users and remains reliable. They say no news is good news but in a market that is moving so quickly and constantly will no news see Twitter fade off? Unlikely. While ever the world looks for its daily fix of Cvofefe Twitter will carry on business as usual.