How to Run Facebook Ads: Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Facebook

How to Run Facebook Ads in 2024: The Ultimate Guide

Facebook has evolved dramatically as an advertising platform over the years, but it remains one of the most effective channels for reaching your target audience and achieving your business goals. With over 2.96 billion monthly active users as of 2023, Facebook‘s massive reach and powerful targeting capabilities make it a platform that advertisers can‘t afford to ignore.

However, success with Facebook Ads isn‘t guaranteed. With increasing competition, costs, and complexity, advertisers need to take a savvy and sophisticated approach to get the most out of the platform.

In this ultimate guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to launch and scale high-performing Facebook Ad campaigns in 2024. From setting the right objectives to targeting your ideal audience to creating thumb-stopping ad creative, you‘ll learn the strategies and best practices used by the world‘s top Facebook advertisers.

Why Advertise on Facebook in 2024?

While new social platforms are emerging all the time, Facebook still offers immense value for advertisers. Here are a few of the top reasons to make Facebook Ads a pillar of your digital marketing strategy in 2024:

Massive global audience: With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook offers unparalleled reach. No matter what industry you‘re in or who your target customer is, it‘s a safe bet that you‘ll be able to reach them on Facebook.

Diverse ad formats: Facebook offers a wide range of engaging ad formats, from simple image and video ads to immersive instant experiences and shoppable posts. This variety allows you to showcase your brand and products in unique ways and create full-funnel ad experiences.

Granular targeting options: Facebook allows you to target your ads with precision to your ideal customer based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even create lookalike audiences to reach new people who are similar to your best customers.

Full-funnel impact: Facebook Ads can help you achieve any marketing objective, from building brand awareness to generating leads and sales to nurturing customer loyalty. No matter what your goals are, Facebook Ads can deliver all the way down the funnel.

Measurable ROI: Facebook provides robust performance data on all your ads, allowing you to track your results, measure your return on investment, and optimize for better outcomes. You can see granular data on which ads are driving the most leads, sales, revenue, and more.

Getting Started with Facebook Ads Manager

To run ads on Facebook, you‘ll use the Facebook Ads Manager platform. This is where you‘ll go to set up, manage, and track your ad campaigns.

When you first log into Facebook Ads Manager, you‘ll see an overview dashboard that shows the performance of your active ad campaigns, ad sets, and ads. You can customize the data and date range you see on the overview page, as well as easily compare results to previous time periods.

On the main menu on the left side of the screen, you‘ll see options to explore your campaigns, ad sets, ads as well as Facebook‘s Audience Insights and other tools. This is where you‘ll navigate to view and edit all aspects of your ads.

Along the top of the dashboard are buttons to create new ads, access and manage your brand‘s Facebook pixel, view and export reports, and more.

While the Facebook Ads Manager may seem complex at first, you‘ll quickly get the hang of the platform as you start building campaigns. Let‘s walk through the steps to launch your first ad.

How to Set Up a Facebook Ad Campaign

Step 1: Choose Your Campaign Objective
The first step in creating a Facebook ad is choosing your campaign objective. This is the high-level goal you want your ad to achieve and will determine the features, bidding options and ad formats available to you.

Facebook Ads Manager offers 11 different objectives across three categories:

Awareness

  • Brand awareness: Increase awareness of your business, brand or service.
  • Reach: Show your ad to as many people as possible in your target audience.

Consideration

  • Traffic: Send traffic to a specific web page, app, or Facebook Messenger conversation.
  • Engagement: Drive engagement actions on your post, such as likes, comments and shares.
  • App installs: Get people to install your app.
  • Video views: Get people to watch your video content.
  • Lead generation: Collect leads for your business using pre-filled forms.
  • Messages: Drive conversations with potential customers in Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram Direct.

Conversion

  • Conversions: Get people to take a specific action on your website or app, such as adding items to cart, purchasing a product or registering for an event.
  • Catalog sales: Connect your Facebook ads to your product catalog to show people ads for products they are most likely to purchase.
  • Store traffic: Drive traffic to your physical store locations.

Consider your goals carefully when choosing your objective, as it will influence your ad options and how you measure and optimize performance. If you‘re not sure which objective to choose, Facebook provides guidance and recommendations based on your business and goals.

Step 2: Define Your Audience
The next step is to define the target audience for your ads using Facebook‘s audience targeting options. You can create a new audience or use a saved audience if you‘ve created one before.

Facebook provides several different ways to target your ideal customer:

Core Audiences: Define an audience based on basic criteria like location, age, gender, and language. You can also target or exclude people based on detailed demographic information, interests and behaviors.

Custom Audiences: Target ads to people who have already interacted with your business, such as website visitors, app users, or customer lists. You can create custom audiences using data from the Facebook pixel, app SDKs, or customer contact lists.

Lookalike Audiences: Find people who are similar to your existing customers. Facebook will analyze your source audience (like a custom audience) and find new people who share similar characteristics.

Audience targeting is both an art and a science. While it‘s tempting to target a broad audience to maximize reach, ads tend to perform better when they are highly relevant to the audience. The more narrowly you can target your ad to people likely to be interested and convert, the better your results will be.

Step 3: Select Your Placements
Your ad placements determine where your ads will appear across Facebook‘s family of apps and services. The placements available will depend on your chosen objective and targeting criteria.

Automatic Placements is the default and recommended setting and allows Facebook to allocate your budget across placements based on where they‘re likely to perform best. The full set of placement options includes:

  • Facebook News Feed
  • Instagram Feed
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Facebook Video Feeds
  • Facebook Right Column
  • Facebook Instant Articles
  • Facebook In-Stream Videos
  • Facebook Search Results
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Audience Network

You also have the option to select Manual Placements and opt in or out of specific placements where you do or don‘t want your ad to appear. For example, if you have an ad creative that you know works particularly well in Instagram Stories, you may choose to only run the ad in that placement.

Step 4: Set Your Budget and Bidding
Now it‘s time to decide how much you want to spend on your ad campaign. You can set either a daily budget (the average you‘ll spend each day) or a lifetime budget (the maximum you‘ll spend over the duration of the campaign).

You‘ll also choose your ad bid strategy, which determines how Facebook will spend your money to get you the best results. For each ad set, you can choose between:

Lowest cost: Get the most results for your budget based on your ad set optimization choices. This is the default and recommended option as it helps maximize your budget.

Highest cost: Bid the highest amount strategically to aim to be the highest spender in each auction. This can help you reach a higher percentage of your potential audience.

Target cost: Facebook will pace your spend to maintain a specified average cost. You can use this to ensure that your cost per result stays on target.

Under special ad categories like credit, employment and housing, you may have fewer bidding options available to you.

Step 5: Create Your Ads
Now for the fun part – creating your ads! This is where you‘ll choose your ad format, add your creative assets and craft your ad copy.

Facebook Ads Manager provides a variety of ad formats, including:

Image ads: The simplest ad format. Create up to 6 different versions of your ad using different images.

Video ads: Tell your story with sight, sound and motion. Facebook recommends uploading the highest resolution source video possible.

Carousel ads: A multi-image or video format that allows people to scroll through several images/videos in a single ad.

Collection ads: Showcase products from your catalog using a cover image or video plus several product images.

Instant Experiences: An immersive full-screen experience that loads immediately when someone taps on your ad on mobile.

For each format, Facebook provides recommended specs and best practices. In general, aim to create visuals that are clear, eye-catching and memorable. Your ad creative should focus on storytelling and highlighting your key value props.

You‘ll also input your ad copy, including your headline, body text, and calls to action. Great ad copy clearly communicates your offer and value while connecting to your audience‘s desires and pain points. Calls to action (CTA) buttons like Learn More, Shop Now or Sign Up make it clear what action you want viewers to take.

Once you‘ve input all your ad elements, make sure to preview them to ensure they look great across different devices and placements. When you‘re satisfied, hit Publish and your ad will be submitted for review!

Pro tip: Test multiple versions of ad creative and copy to see what resonates most with your audience. Use A/B tests, also known as split tests, to experiment with different images, videos, copy, CTAs and more.

Step 6: Measure, Analyze and Optimize
Congrats – your ads are live! But the work doesn‘t end there. To really achieve high-performing ads, you need to be proactive about monitoring results, analyzing data, and optimizing your approach.

Facebook Ads Manager provides detailed reporting on your campaign performance, including key metrics like:

  • Results: The number of desired actions taken, based on your campaign objective.
  • Reach: The number of people who saw your ads.
  • Impressions: The number of times your ad was seen.
  • Cost per Result: The average cost of your desired action.
  • Amount Spent: The total amount spent during the selected date range.
  • Unique Link Clicks: The number of people who clicked on an ad link.

You can use this reporting to gauge campaign performance and check progress against your goals and KPIs. For example, if you notice an ad set or ad with especially low engagement or high costs, you may choose to turn it off or test new creative. Meanwhile, if you identify a top-performing ad set, you may increase the budget to scale up your results.

To really level up your optimization, go beyond the Facebook Ads Manager and use tools like Google Analytics or your marketing automation platform to track full-funnel performance. By setting up tracking and goals, you can see what happens after someone clicks on your ad, whether that‘s making a purchase, submitting a lead form, or another valuable action.

Ultimately, the key to success with Facebook Ads is constant testing, learning and adjusting your approach. Don‘t be afraid to experiment with new tactics and let your data guide your strategy.

7 Tips for High-Performing Facebook Ads in 2024

Looking to take your Facebook Ads to the next level? Here are our top 7 tips for creating ads that drive real business results in 2024:

  1. Embrace video ads
    Video is dominating on Facebook and is the most engaging format across the platform. According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 47% of the value in a video ad campaign is delivered in the first 3 seconds. Focus on creating short, snappy video ads that hook attention right away.

  2. Experiment with augmented reality (AR) ads
    Facebook has been steadily rolling out new AR ad features, like AR try-on that allows users to visualize products on themselves. As AR technology continues to advance, we expect to see more immersive and interactive ad formats emerge on Facebook in 2024. Test out AR ads to provide engaging product experiences.

  3. Leverage user-generated content
    User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to build social proof and trust with your audience. Encourage customers to create content featuring your brand or products and feature it in your Facebook Ads. Not only is UGC highly authentic, but it can also help you scale ad production more affordably than relying solely on brand creative.

  4. Get personal with Conversions API
    The Facebook Conversions API allows you to send web events from your servers directly to Facebook. While the Facebook Pixel remains the primary web tracking tool, Conversions API offers several benefits like improved data accuracy and control. Leverage Conversions API to create more personalized ad experiences and improve measurement.

  5. Build full-funnel ad experiences
    Facebook Ads can support every stage of the customer journey, from initial brand discovery to post-purchase relationship-building. Build full-funnel ad experiences by leveraging different ad formats and audience targeting at each stage. For example, use video ads to capture attention at the top of the funnel, then retarget engaged viewers with conversion-optimized ads to nurture them towards purchase.

  6. Optimize for incremental lift
    One of the challenges of Facebook Ads is determining which conversions were driven by your ads versus those that would have occurred organically. Facebook‘s Experiments tool allows you to measure the incremental impact of your ads through tactics like conversion lift tests and brand surveys. Optimize your strategy towards the tactics and audiences driving provable incremental lift.

  7. Plan for a (mostly) cookieless future
    While Google Chrome has extended the timeline for deprecating third-party cookies to 2024, it‘s still critical for Facebook advertisers to prepare for a more privacy-centric future. Prioritize collecting first-party customer data through your owned channels that you can use to create custom audiences. You should also explore alternative targeting tactics like contextual targeting based on ad placements and interests.

The Future of Facebook Ads in 2024 and Beyond

As we look forward to the next era of Facebook Ads, we expect to see the platform continue to evolve and introduce new features for advertisers. Potential areas for development include:

  • More immersive ad experiences powered by technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Increased adoption of machine learning and automation tools to help advertisers optimize campaigns
  • A focus on brand safety and misinformation, with stricter policies around ad content
  • Emphasis on first-party data solutions to help advertisers navigate the cookieless future
  • New ad formats and placements, especially as Facebook expands further into commerce and creator partnerships

Despite these changes, the fundamentals of Facebook advertising are likely to remain the same. Advertisers who focus on deeply understanding their audience, crafting compelling creative, and leveraging data to optimize performance will continue to see success on the platform.

As you plan your Facebook ad strategy for 2024 and beyond, stay agile and don‘t be afraid to test out new features and tactics. But most importantly, keep your customer at the center of everything you do. At the end of the day, Facebook Ads are simply a tool to connect with your audience and deliver value. If you get that right, you‘ll be well-positioned to achieve your advertising goals, no matter what the future holds.