We recently wrote that Facebook Ads are an indispensable way to market your company – and if buying patterns are any indication, the industry agrees. And they’re showing it by buying its ads in droves.

Starting September 10th, Facebook will be making changes to its ad units that  improve and simplify them. Why is Facebook messing with something that is clearly working already?

Facebook wants to maximize the return that its ads generate for users. In Facebook’s words: “Simplification is the effort to provide advertisers with a consistent and intuitive experience that leads to effective advertising results.”

So what’s changing?

  1. Facebook is reducing the variety of ads that people can purchase: throwing out the bad (or least efficient), and keeping the good.
  2. Images will now be 1.5 times larger than before – because the larger they are, the more people click on them.
  3. Each ad type will now have recommended creative (imagery) that works whether you are advertising on desktop or on mobile (more detail below).
  4. Ads will now include the best Sponsored Stories automatically. Before, Facebook didn’t include sponsorship automatically in its ads unless you told it to.

Rather than go through the changes one by one, let’s start with a clean slate and summarize the Facebook Ads world as it stands starting September 10th.

Sponsored Stories
To start, let’s clear up the difference between an ad with a sponsored story, and an ad without. Sponsored Stories are ads that highlight the interactions of your fans with your Page. Can you spot the difference in the pictures below?

First of all, a sponsored story has nothing to do with the “Sponsored” that you see under Jasper’s Market – Facebook may just enjoy confusing people. A Sponsored Story refers to an ad that has social context in its display. In the ad on the right, Facebook is highlighting the fact that Jessica Watson (presumably a friend of yours) likes Jasper’s Market. Facebook does this because people are more likely to take an action if your friend recommends it. The good news is that you no longer really need to worry about this in most scenarios. When you create an ad that targets the friends of your fans, Facebook now automatically includes the best Sponsored Stories without you having to do anything. You can still create sponsored ads separately but we’ll get into this in a more advanced post. So let’s move on!

Where to Advertise
Facebook Ads can be placed in 3 places: the mobile newsfeed, the desktop newsfeed and the right column of Facebook (which is only visible on a desktop). Pictorially:

By far, ads on the Facebook newsfeed (both desktop and mobile) get the most engagement. In fact, according to Facebook, page post photo ads get clicked on 8 times more on the newsfeed than on the right-hand side, according to a June PMD Performance Marketing Webinar. That’s not all – in a recent study, AdParlor was able to get a buyer conversion rate that was 3 times higher on the newsfeed than on the right hand side.

So why even bother with right hand side ads? One big reason: they are much cheaper, and if you care more about impressions than clicks, then the right hand side is a great way to rack these up.

What Are Facebook’s Ad Types & When Should You Use Them
Here is a summary of the different ad types that Facebook offers.

Perhaps more importantly, here’s a cheat sheet for when to use the most popular ad types:

When creating Facebook ads, you should try to stick to Facebook’s recommended creative specs. Not following these exactly won’t hurt you very much, but why not try to get the most bang for your advertising buck.

So there you have it, your sneak preview of the upcoming Facebook ad changes. What do you think of the new lay of the land?

About the Author: Alfredo Ramos is the General Manager of the social marketing tool Pagemodo. Get more from Alfredo on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


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