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The Ultimate Cheat List for Facebook Ad Formats

Produced by the Digital Marketing Agency of Experts


Creating high-performing Facebook ad creative is more than just visuals and messaging – the ad has to be sized correctly and should follow the platform’s guidelines. But since every social platform has their own rules (which constantly change), that can be a bit tricky. Facebook’s technical specifications for ad units vary depending on many factors, including ad objectives and the networks where the ads are displayed.


In this new cheat sheet, we do a comprehensive breakdown of each ad format available in Facebook with tips and best practices for how to make your ad more effective.


*For full details on design requirements, check out the  Facebook Business Ads Guide.


Ad Formats: Static/Photo

  • The most common ad unit
  • Traditionally, the optimal character count is 25 characters for headlines, 90 characters for text, and 30 characters for link description.
  • Be careful not to feature too much text in the image of the ad or Facebook will penalize the ad unit and show it to fewer people. Check to see if your image has too much text.


PRO TIP: Facebook offers free e-learning courses to learn more about how to work with photo ads. Get inspired!





Ad Formats: Video


Video ad content on Facebook is booming – especially on mobile – and users spend a lot more time interacting with video compared to text or static image-based content.


  • Hanapin’s internal data shows that Facebook prefers video and the read of the ad unit is typically significantly higher
  • Think of video as a mini commercial for your brand – it’s a great way to stop fidgety scrollers to stop to see what your ad is about
  • Video ads are effective at creating opportunities to tell your story without requiring users to leave Facebook


Extra Resources: 




Best Practices


    • Keep the video length to 15 seconds or less
    • Put the most interesting or important elements of the video first
    • Use square or 9:16 vertical ratio layouts
    • Use captions – 85% of Facebook videos are viewed with sound
    • Edit existing videos that weren’t specifically made for mobile before using them in your ad to ensure that images and messaging comes through the way you want


“We’re making it easier than ever for people to capture, create and share rich, visual content across our family of apps” – Hanapin Facebook Reps





Make a video first strategy:


Utilize existing video and/or image assets to create shorter, more impactful, 15-second video ads to match consumer attention spans on mobile devices and increase absorption of completed messages.


Some tips!

  • Build ads to match how people watch –  shoot new video assets vertically. 9:16 ratio works best for mobile.
  • Capture attention quickly!
    • Bring the action and focus forward and put your hero front and center
    • Incorporate brand identity early
    • Use engaging post copy
  • Design and build for sound off, but still delight with sound on
    • Tell the story visually
    • Use text and graphics to help deliver the message
  • Frame the visual story tightly and highlight key elements
  • Create visual surprises


Ad Formats: Lead


  • In the “lead magnet” family, lead ads allow users to submit contact information (as a lead) in exchange for downloadable content directly in Facebook
  • Ad unit uses image, video or carousel formats and are followed by a lead form when the user engages the ad
  • Ideal for brand’s promoting downloadable PDF’s or webinar registrations
  • Only ask for the information really needed to reduce the chance that the user abandons the form before completing it
  • Keep free-form text input to a minimum and provide options for the answer the user can choose from instead – limit answers to questions to between 3-4 so the user doesn’t have to scroll



Lead ads are specifically designed to increase the amount of lead volume, even if it means that the quality of the leads are reduced.  If quality leads are the primary objective, under the Content tab, click Form Type and then select the Higher Intent option during the setup process.  This will add an additional review step that gives people a chance to confirm their info when submitting their contact information.


Learn how to get the most out of Lead Ads



Ad Formats: Carousel



  • Showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link
  • Often touted to have a lower cost-per-conversion and CPC compared to static ads
  • Interactive and mobile-friendly and allow for a lot of creativity to showcase products and tell stories
  • With more creative space within an ad, you can highlight different products, showcase specific details about one product, service or promotion, or tell a story about your brand that develops across each carousel card
  • Sell the benefits – If you don’t sell physical goods, use images that show the benefits or results of becoming a customer.



Learn More About Carousel Ads

Facebook Tips and Recommendations




Ad Formats: Slideshow


  • Video-like ads that use motion, sound and text to beautifully tell a story that entices the viewer to click to find out more about you
  • Best for brands that want to showcase a wide range of products in their ads
  • Automatically rotates through product images and doesn’t require the viewer to click to see the next image(s) – this movement grabs the audience’s attention as they scroll through their news feed
  • As powerful as video without the time and expense – this can be created in minutes to tell a story that develops over time using pre-existing images, stock imagery or existing video stills


See How They Can Work For You

Create a Slideshow Ad

FB Slideshow Creative Examples





Ad Formats: Canvas


  • Mobile-specific ad unit that delivers a fully immersive, full-screen ad experience
  • Looks like a regular ad unit in the Facebook feed, but when clicked, it opens up to cover the entire mobile screen to combine videos, photos, GIFs and call-to-action buttons
  • Delivers a microsite-like experience that allows people to click, scroll, swipe and tap to engage with brands right on the Facebook platform



Learn how to expand your in-feed story with an instant-loading fullscreen experience

8 Examples of Amazing Facebook Canvas Ads



Ad Formats: Collection


  • Like Canvas Ads, they are for mobile devices only, so tailor the content for mobile feed
  • Encourages shopping by displaying multiple items from your product catalog—customized for each user
  • Highly immersive ad unit that typically includes a cover image or video followed by several product images
  • When someone clicks on a collection ad, they’ll land on Canvas
  • People who tap on your ad can browse multiple products or learn more about the features of a specific product


Tell A Story With Facebook Collection Ads





Ad Formats: Offer


  • Grabs attention by letting you share a deal or discount with both your existing fans and other Audiences using the same targeting capabilities as other Facebook ads
  • Offers can be used online or in physical brick-and-mortar stores, 3 types:
    • Offers for use in-store only (brick-and-mortar retailers)
    • Offers redeemable online or in-store
    • Online-only offers
  • Rich features – add in barcodes, set an expiration date, limit the number of claims on the offer, promote the offer like any other Facebook ad
  • Setup is similar to any other ad, toggle the “Offer” button from OFF to ON and follow the next prompts to create barcodes, headlines, descriptions, images, etc.




Ad Formats: Post Engagement


  • Ad unit that get people to engage with brand page posts
  • Use them to extend your page posts beyond your page and inspire people to take action
  • Increases the size of page fans/followers
  • Can increase organic reach if more people comment, share, like, etc.



  • Post during times when your Audiences’ are most likely online – look at your own data to determine best times, particularly Facebook Page Insights
  • Experiment and test by creating ads that target your fan page and then choose the winning ad/messaging to a larger audience
  • Choose your top performing organic Posts, change it up just a little so that it looks fresh



Check out this Hootsuite video on Post Engagement best practices




Ad Formats: Event Response


  • Used to promote awareness of your  events and drive responses
  • Appears as image or video ads
  • Create an event from your brand’s page and then promote it to larger audiences based on things like age, gender, interests and where they live
  • When they join your event, it automatically adds the event to the user’s Facebook calendar
  • Create ads that drive responses (the call to action on your ad will say Interested)
  • Create an ad that drives ticket sales (the call to action on your ad will say Get Tickets)






Ad Formats: Dynamic Creative


Dynamic Creative is a tool that automatically delivers the best combinations of your creative assets. It finds the best ad creative combinations by taking the components of the ad (images, videos, titles, descriptions, CTAs, etc.) and running different combinations of these assets across audiences.


The maximum number of total assets you can use is 30.  Supported creative variations dimensions:


  • Title: maximum of 5 titles per asset feed
  • Image/Video: maximum of 10 images or 10 videos per asset feed
  • Text: maximum of 5 bodies of text per asset feed
  • Description: maximum of 5 descriptions per asset feed
  • CTA: maximum of 5 CTAs per asset feed




Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)


Retargeting for Ecommerce: automatically promote products to people who have already expressed interest on your site.  Upload your product catalog and set up your campaign one time, and it will continue working for as long as you want—finding the right people for each product, and using up-to-date pricing and availability.


  • Product view but no purchase – follow up with products viewed, recommended or complementary


  • Products added to cart, but no purchase – classic email abandonment techniques


  • Upsells to recent purchasers – brand new customers are more likely to purchase something else from you


  • Cross-sells to past customers – think Amazon Prime!


Facebook Requirements and Tips




Dynamic Ads for Travel

Dynamic Ads for Travel let you automatically show ads across Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network to people who are likely to take a trip. If someone was browsing hotels but didn’t make a reservation—or if they were looking at flights but didn’t book a trip—dynamic ads for travel let you target them with relevant ads based on their specific dates, destinations and other trip details.


  • Generate hotel bookings by showing off your property and rooms and letting people know about your openings.
  • Boost flight sales by advertising your flight inventory by route and availability.




NEW! Reach travelers before they visit your site with Trip Consideration.




Dynamic Ads for Auto & Real Estate


Upload your vehicle catalog with details such as make, model and year, then automatically generate ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences. Use Dynamic Ads for Auto to direct people toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other valuable places—and continually show your most relevant vehicles to potential auto buyers.


Get your listings in front of people who have expressed interest in buying or renting a new property. With Dynamic Ads for Real Estate, you can show the right properties to interested buyers, based on criteria like neighborhood, price, square footage and more.




Take the Facebook E-Learning course and become an expert!


Want to see what Hanapin can do to manage your paid social? Check out our Paid Social strategy on our website!