Facebook ad placements explained

Facebook is a great platform for targeting your audience, providing a massive variety of options, including ad placements. Facebook ad placements can be a bit of minefield at the best of times; from feed placements and stories to messenger or marketplace, what do you pick?

As there are so many options, it’s difficult to know which is the right ad placement for your campaigns. To help, we’ll take a look at each placement option and which ones work best for each campaign objective.

What are Facebook Ad Placements?

Ad placements are essentially where Facebook can show your ads. Placements are set at the ad set level of your campaign, and depending on your campaign objective, your ads can appear on Facebook, Instagram, the Audience Network and Messenger.

Good to know: Facebook groups placements by how the user will experience the ad across the platform and by creative asset required. For example, stories can appear across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger using the same creative and offering a similar experience.

When you create your ads, you’ll choose whether you want to manually select your ad placements or let Facebook show them in the places where they’re most likely to perform best with automatic placements.

Whilst Facebook ‘recommends’ using Automatic Placements, this isn’t necessarily the best option for your campaign goals. The automatic placement feature can lead to an irrelevant or inappropriate distribution of your ads. Instead, use this setting selectively, editing your placements to remove options that will add little value to your campaign.

If you choose to edit your placements and manually select which you want to run, it can be tricky to know which of the many options will help you achieve your campaign goals. We’re taking a look at all Facebook Ad Placement options available and when to use each.

Feed Placements

#1 Facebook News Feed Placement

The Facebook news feed placements mean your ads appear in users’ desktop news feeds and/or their mobile news feed. The mobile news feed includes both the Facebook app and Facebook accessed via mobile browsers.

Facebook news feed ads are one of the original placement options and because of this, they are the most popular and effective placements. This also means these ads can be expensive in terms of CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions).

#2 Instagram Feed Placement

Next up is the Instagram feed placement, very similar to Facebook news feed placements, these ads appear in users’ Instagram feeds.

With Instagram being the fastest growing social media channel with more than 1 billions active monthly users, Instagram feed ads are the second most effective placement option – particularly if your target audience is active on this platform.

Tip: Run Instagram feed ads alongside Facebook news feed ads then break down your campaign data by placement to see which platform generates the best results.

#3 Facebook Marketplace

Facebook marketplace ads are a new addition to the feed placements. This placement displays your ads on the marketplace home page or when someone browses marketplace via the Facebook app.

It’s currently not possible for ads to only appear in marketplace; when you select the marketplace option, ads will also appear in the Facebook news feed.

Marketplace ads won’t work well for high-value items or service-based businesses but are a great option for eCommerce companies who know their target audience search locally for deals on low to mid-priced items.

#4 Facebook Video Feeds

This campaign placement option will display your ads in the video feed, specifically the suggested video feed and Facebook Watch feed.

Video is the most cost-effective way to build audiences you can remarket to in future campaigns.

#5 Facebook Right Column Sponsored Placement

This is probably the least used placement as it is only accessible for desktop users but is good for remarketing. As this is a desktop-only placement and the majority of your reach on Facebook will be on mobile, you’ll find that it won’t get that much reach compared with feeds on mobile.

#6 Instagram Explore Placement

Instagram Explore is where users go when they want to see photos and videos related to their interests from accounts they may not already follow. Explore is one of the best places for people to discover, shop and connect with people, businesses and creators.

After tapping on a photo or video in Explore, people may begin to see ads as part of their browsing experience just like in the main feed. As always, people have control over the ads they see. 

#7 Messenger Inbox Feed Placement

Last in the feeds category is the Messenger Inbox Feed placement. When selecting this placement, your ads will show in your audiences’ messenger home tab between conversations.

When people click on an ad, they’ll be sent to a detailed view within Messenger that shows your full ad with your call-to-action (CTA) button, which directs users to the link destination you set when creating your ad.

Many advertisers are hesitant to use this type of placement as it is more intrusive than other placements. However, this placement can be good for messages campaign objectives where the goal is to connect with people on Facebook, communicate with potential or existing customers.

#8 Stories Feed Placement for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger

The Stories placement on Facebook and Instagram is a fairly new feature and has grown massively with over 400 million people using it every day (Facebook).

Within the Stories placement, there are three further platform options: Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories. The most common placement of the three is Instagram. With its full-screen, vertical format, your business can share photos and videos.

Good to know: The recommended optimal ad creative dimension is full-screen vertical images or videos (9:16), which appear when switching stories from one user to another.

#9 Facebook In-Stream Videos Placement

Using the Facebook in-stream videos placement, your ads will appear before, during, or after video content. You can deliver 5 to 15-second video ads to people watching videos on Facebook and through the Audience Network.

Tip: Make sure your video ads grab your audience’s attention immediately and remember to keep the overall message concise.

One of the issues with the in-stream placement is that you’re interrupting someone who has already taken an action to watch a video; therefore, your engagement rate won’t be as high when compared to the feeds placement, for instance.

#9 Facebook Search Placement

In 2019 (after a year of testing), Facebook began rolling out the search ad placement to all advertisers. The Facebook Search placement allows your ads to appear in results when someone searches for keywords related to your ad.

Good to know: Search ad placement is not a standalone option — advertisers must be running a News Feed ad to have their ads show up in search results as well.

Targeting for ads in search is based on your chosen targeting options in addition to relevant search term keywords. However, it’s worth noting that the keywords are determined by Facebook, not by the advertiser. Facebook will show your ads based on a combination of features such as ad text, product category, title and description.

#10 Messenger Sponsored Messages Placement

Unlike the messenger inbox placement in the feeds category, the sponsored messages placement lets you create message ads.

Your ads will appear as messages delivered directly to a person when they have an existing conversation with you in Messenger. This means this placement can only be used to target a very specific audience of people who have previously engaged with you on Messenger.

#11 Facebook Instant Articles Placement

The instant articles placement allows you to show ads within a piece of content, and in this case, it relates to the Facebook Instant Articles.

Good to know: Instant Articles are fast-loading content pages that are hosted within Facebook.

Similar to in-stream video ads, your engagement rate will be lower because your ads will show amongst original content that a user has chosen to read. Having said that, this placement can work well for remarketing campaigns accompanied by the right column and feeds placements.

#12 Facebook Audience Network Placements

The Audience Network are third party apps and sites where your ads can be shown. There are a few placements within the Audience Network you can choose from. The first is native, banner, and interstitial, which are classic display placements similar to Google display advertising.

The second is rewarded video. Here, your ads appear as videos that people can watch in exchange for a reward in an app, such as in-app currency or items.

The third is Audience Network in-stream videos which are identical to the Facebook in-stream videos placement.

As the Facebook Audience Network is so vast, you’ll find that the cost is much lower than all of the other placements. However, audience quality is considerably lower. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Facebook Ad Placement

Now you understand a bit more about each Facebook ad placement, we’ll now look at which placements are most suitable to each campaign objective.

What placements to select when using the awareness campaign objectives

  • Facebook feeds
  • Instagram feed
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Stories
  • Messenger Stories
  • Instagram Explore
  • In-stream videos

What placements to select when using the consideration campaign objectives

  • Facebook feeds
  • Instagram feeds
  • Instagram Stories
  • Instagram Explore

What placements to select when using the conversion objectives

  • Facebook feeds
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Facebook Search
  • Messenger Sponsored Messages Placement
  • Instant Articles
  • Instagram feed
  • Instagram Stories
  • Instagram Explore

How to Measure Ad Placement Effectiveness

To see which placements are delivering the best results in your campaign, go to the ad set level of the campaign in Ads Manager.

Then on the far right, click the ‘Breakdown’ button to see a drop-down menu of different ways to segment your data. Click on ‘Placement’ under the ‘By Delivery’ section.

Here, you’ll see a list of where your ads have been shown and the performance of each ad placement.

When reviewing the data here, you’ll get a better understanding of which Facebook ad placements deliver the best results for your campaign goals and be able to adjust the placements accordingly.

Let’s recap

Facebook offers a wide range of ad placement options to consider for your campaigns. Although Facebook recommends Automatic Placements for every objective, use this setting selectively.

Remember to keep checking the ad placement performance throughout the campaign duration and get rid of any placements where you are wasting the budget.

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