A Guide to Facebook Ad Placements and Formats

Rachel Ritchie
February 23, 2020
Confused by the countless options for placements, formats, and objectives for Facebook and Instagram ads? Allow us to demystify.

The world of social advertising is a complicated and ever-changing place. For instance, advertising through Facebook means advertising on more than Facebook. Because the Facebook family supports multiple advertising types across Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger. And every single ad has three key components: The placement (where it will be displayed), the format (what it looks like), and the objective (how success will be measured). 

When we develop social advertising campaign strategies, we recommend a selection of placements, formats, and goals based on a combination of business objectives, historical data, gut instincts, and general channel expertise. But the options and permutations are limitless. Below, you’ll find an overview of these components, so that you can better understand the tools you can use to leverage your brand’s offerings and available assets.

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Ad Placements

The places where you can run your ads are called Placements. Depending on the objective you choose when you create your campaign, your ads can appear on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.


Facebook News Feed: Your ads appear in the desktop News Feed when people access the Facebook website on their computers. Your ads appear in the mobile News Feed when people use the Facebook app on mobile devices or access the Facebook website through a mobile browser.

Facebook Marketplace: Your ads appear in the Marketplace home page or when someone browses Marketplace in the Facebook app. Learn more about ads in Marketplace.

Facebook Video Feeds: Your video ads appear between organic videos in video-only environments on Facebook Watch and Facebook News Feed.

Facebook Right Column: Your ads appear in the right columns on Facebook. Right column ads only appear to people browsing Facebook on their computers.

Facebook Stories: Your ads appear in people's stories on Facebook. Learn more about ads in Facebook Stories.

Facebook In-Stream Videos: Your ads appear as short videos in Video on Demand and select Gaming Partner live streams on Facebook (ads in live streams are currently limited to approved Gaming Partners as part of a test). Learn more about in-stream video.

Facebook Instant Articles: Your ads appear in Instant Articles within the Facebook mobile app. Learn more about Instant Articles.


Instagram Feed: Your ads appear in the desktop feed when people access the Instagram website on their computers. They appear in the mobile feed when people use the Instagram app on mobile devices or access the Instagram website through a mobile browser.

Instagram Explore: Your ads appear in the browsing experience when someone clicks on a photo or video. Learn more about ads in Instagram Explore.

Instagram Stories: Your ads appear in people's stories on Instagram. Learn more about ads in Instagram Stories.


Messenger Inbox: Your ads appear in the Home tab of Messenger. Learn more about ads in Messenger.

Messenger Stories: Your ads appear in people's stories on Messenger. Learn more about ads in Messenger Stories.

Messenger Sponsored Messages: Your ads appear as messages to people who have an existing conversation with you in Messenger. Learn more about sponsored messages.

Audience Network

Audience Network Banner, Native, and Interstitial: Your ads appear on apps and websites on Audience Network. Learn more about banner ads, interstitial ads and native ads.

Audience Network Rewarded Video: Your ads appear as videos people can watch in exchange for a reward in an app (such as in-app currency or items). Learn more about rewarded video.

Audience Network In-Stream: Your ads appear as short videos that run before, during or after video content (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll) in a video player on a website. Learn more about in-stream video.

Ad Formats

Whether you want to use video, images or words—or a combination of those elements—there’s an ad format for every business story. Here are the formats available within the Facebook family.

Photo: Photo ads offer a clean, simple format to feature engaging imagery and copy. Convey who you are and what you do through high-quality images or illustrations.

Video: Tell your story with sight, sound and motion. Video ads come in a range of lengths and styles—from short, feed-based ads you watch on the go, to longer videos you watch on the couch.

Collection: Collection ads let people discover, browse and buy what you offer. People can tap an ad to learn more about a specific product, all within a fast-loading experience.

Carousel: Carousel ads let you showcase up to ten images or videos in a single ad, each with its own link. Highlight different products or tell a brand story that develops across each card.

Slideshow: Slideshow ads are video-like ads made of motion, sound and text. These lightweight clips help you tell your story beautifully across devices and connection speeds.

Instant Experience: Instant Experience, formerly called Canvas, provides a full-screen, mobile-optimized experience instantly from your ad.

Lead Generation: Lead ads on Facebook and Instagram help you collect info from people interested in your business. A lead ad is presented using an image, video, or carousel, and followed by a lead form when the user engages with the ad.

Offers: Offers are discounts you can share with your customers on Facebook. You can design your offer ad to appear as a image, video, or carousel.

Post Engagement: Most Page posts on Facebook can be boosted to deliver more likes, comments, shares, and photo views.

Event Responses: Event response ads can be used to promote awareness of your event and drive responses. You can design your event ad to appear as an image or video.

Page Likes: Page likes ads can be used to drive users to like your page. You can design your Page likes ad with a video or an image masked to a ratio of 1.91:1.

Ad Objectives

Your advertising objective is what you want people to do when they see your ads. As businesses grow, the goals we create for campaigns often change. First, our campaigns may focus on building awareness and acquiring new customers. Later, we will likely encourage people to make a purchase, sign up for an event, or fill out a form. Objectives fall into three buckets, or user journey phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.


Brand Awareness: Increase people's awareness of your business, brand or service.

Reach: Show your ad to as many people as possible in your target audience.


Traffic: Send people from Facebook to any URL you choose, such as your website's landing page, a blog post, app etc.

Engagement: Reach people more likely to engage with your post. Engagement includes likes, comments and shares but can also include offers claimed from your page.

App Installs: Send people to the store where they can download your business's app.

Video Views: Share videos of your business with people on Facebook most likely to watch it.

Lead Generation: Collect leads for your business. Create ads that collect info from people interested in your product, such as sign-ups for newsletters.

Messages: Connect with people on Facebook, communicate with potential or existing customers to encourage interest in your business.


Conversions: Encourage people to take a specific action on your business's site, such as having them to add items to a cart, download your app, register for your site, or make a purchase.

Catalog Sales: Show products from your e-commerce store's catalog to generate sales.

Store Traffic: Promote your brick-and-mortar business locations to people that are nearby.

Like we said up top...it's a lot. Some of the most time-intensive work we do is on developing the strategy and campaign architecture for paid media campaigns. Once that's in place, we can start having fun testing copy, images, audiences, and more.

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