Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Ads Formats

Published by Appetite Creative

What type of Facebook Ads should I be using? If you are here it’s most likely because you are asking yourself this question right now. And that’s alright! In this guide we will go over how Facebook ads work in general and then we will dive into the more specifics of Facebook Ads Formats, explaining them one by one, including:

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Messenger ads
  • Stories ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Slideshow ads
  • Collection ads
  • Playable ads


How do Facebook Ads work? 

First, you might be wondering if Facebook ads really are effective. What makes Facebook ads effective are the level of audience targeting, the number of users on the platform, and the depth of analytics and insights that the advertising platform provides. In terms of audience pool, don’t forget that Facebook has over 2.8 billion users worldwide, so whoever you want to target with your ads, most likely has a Facebook account and uses it.
Once you know who you want to target with your ads, Facebook allows you to create your audience based on customizable characteristics such as location, age, sex, languages, interests, and behaviours. This allows you to be precise on who sees your ads so that they reach the correct audience. Another great feature Facebook offers is Lookalike Audiences, which allows Facebook to create an audience for you that shares similarities to other audiences that you’ve created, which allows you to boost your reach further. 
The insights and analytics Facebook provides will let you monitor what is working and what isn’t, so you can always tweak your ads or create new optimized ones.
These advantages combined with a great strategy is why Facebook ads are important and relevant for a variety of businesses. It’s all about trial and error, testing different options and varieties until you find the right one for you.

Types of Facebook Ads Formats and Specifications 

Facebook offers a variety of ads formats to choose from, allowing you to play with different types of ad formats and placements on the platform, that helps achieve a wider range of opportunities for success. We will go over the different ad formats one by one and give further details and information about each one so it is easy to identify which one will work best for your business.


Image Ads:

Image ads use a still image showcasing your product, brand or service. They provide an opportunity to, for example, show your brand’s personality, put a product in focus and bring attention to promotions. The photo needs to stand out to bring the viewers’ attention to it, so it’s best to always use a creative high quality photo to entice your audience to click on it.
Image ads can be placed on the right column, appearing on the right side of a user's Facebook News Feed, and on the users’ desktop and mobile news feed, which look more like native advertising.

Let’s look into the specifications for this type of Facebook ad:

Design recommendations

  • File type: JPG or PNG
  • Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 

Text recommendations

  • Primary text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters 

Technical requirements

  • Maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Minimum width: 600 pixels
  • Minimum height: 600 pixels
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 3%

Image ads can be used for brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, page likes, event responses and app installs. Once you choose your main objective for your ad, you will be able to choose the call to action available to maximize conversion.

Video Ads:

To create video ads, you can use a GIF or a video. This type of ad is useful to demonstrate a product or event and give the viewers a deeper experience. For example, if your brand sells vacuums, you could use an image ad if you’re having a promotion to entice them to click and buy, but if you want your audience to get to know the product, you can highlight its advantages with a video demonstration, transmitting trust to the viewers. If you offer services, a dynamic video about your brand can capture potential clients’ attention. According to a Facebook study, nearly 80% of all the data consumed on mobile devices will be in video format by 2021. Thus, adding video ads to your strategy will increase your chances of a successful ad. Additionally, it is important to note that the popularity and preference for vertical videos is rising, so when creating video ads, it’s best to choose this format. 

Let’s look into the specifications for this type of Facebook ad:

Design recommendations:

  • File type: MP4, MOV or GIF
  • Ratio: 4:5
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan and stereo AAC audio compression at 128 kbps+
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video captions: Optional, but recommended
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended

Videos should not contain edit lists or special boxes in file containers. 

Text recommendations:

  • Primary text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters 

Technical requirements:

  • Video duration: 1 second to 241 minutes
  • Maximum file size: 4 GB
  • Minimum width: 120 pixels
  • Minimum height: 120 pixels

Video ads can be used for brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, page likes, event responses and app installs. Once you choose your main objective for your ad, you will be able to choose the call to action available to maximize conversion.

Messenger Ads:

A Messenger ad shows up as a direct message in a user's Facebook's Messenger app. Facebook will automatically deliver Messenger ads to the placement that's most likely to drive campaign results at the lowest possible cost. To make the process even simpler, you can use the same creative that you are using for Facebook and Instagram for your Messenger ad. When the user taps on a Messenger ad, they will be sent to a detailed view within Messenger with a call to action that will take them to the destination you chose during the creation of the ad which can be your site, app or starting a conversation within Messenger.
This is a great way to have a more personalized interaction with your audience to generate leads, increase sales and answer questions.

Stories Ads:

Stories ads appear in between stories of the people you follow. It is quite a native approach to ads since it shows up as if it was one of your friend’s stories, which encourages users to look at it. This is why it’s best to reflect the same intimate and entertaining look and feel. Stories ads can be used on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
Stories are a great tool to show more of people’s day to day life as opposed to content in the newsfeed which exposes bigger moments. This provides an opportunity to be a part of your target’s daily life and become a brand they think of first. 

Here are some impressive statistics about stories from Facebook:

  • They're immersive: 73% of people in the US agree that stories enable them to experience new things outside their everyday lives.
  • They're authentic: 65% of people in the US say that stories help them feel closer and more up to date with friends.
  • They're inclusive: 57% of people in the US say that stories make them feel part of a larger community.
  • Their popularity is increasing: 62% of people in the US say that they plan to use stories even more in the future than they do today.

Here are the specifications for Facebook stories:

The Ad formats can be either a single image or a single video.
Image specifications:

  • Aspect ratios: 9:16 to 1.91:1
  • Maximum duration: 6 secs
  • Maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Supported image types: .jpg, .png

Video specifications:

  • Aspect ratios: 9:16 to 1.91:1
  • Maximum duration: 15 secs
  • Maximum file size: 4 GB
  • Minimum video width: 500 px
  • Supported video types: .mp4, .mov
  • Video quality: H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio quality: Stereo AAC audio compression at 128 kbps+
  • Sound: Optional
  • Captions: Not available; subtitles or captions must be part of the video file

Stories ads can be used for reach, traffic, app installs, video views, conversions, brand awareness and lead generation. Once the objective has been chosen, you can decide on the appropriate call to action.


Carousel Ads:

Carousel ads show up on your feed and contain a series of up to 10 images or videos that users can swipe through, each with their own links leading to individual web pages. Carousel ads are used to showcase property, service offerings, events and more. 

Here are some examples of when you could successfully use this type of ads: 

Feature multiple products that link to different landing pages: Great way to highlight your different products and increase your click-through rate.
Use multiple images to show different features of the same product: Focusing on one product can help you educate your customers about its benefits.
Tell a story through the use of multiple pictures or videos: Storytelling is an important marketing strategy to capture the audience’s attention.
Explain a process to potential customers: Create a step by step about your business works. 
Show results: If you offer services, use carousel ads to shine a light on your results and benefits to generate new leads.
Create a large canvas: Split one large image into several frames for an immersive ad experience.

Carousel ads technical specifications:

  • Minimum number of carousel cards: 2
  • Maximum number of carousel cards: 10
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1 (recommended)
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 3% (Facebook only)
  • Resolution: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels (recommended)
  • Image file format: .jpg and .png
  • Image maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Video length: up to 240 minutes (15 seconds recommended)
  • Video file format: See the full list of supported video formats
  • Video maximum file size: 4 GB

Ad copy guidelines:

  • Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 25 characters

You can use carousel ads for brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, conversions, catalog sales, store traffic, messages and lead generation. Once the objective has been chosen, you can decide on the appropriate call to action.


Slideshow Ads:

Slideshow ads are slightly similar to Carousel ads since you are using several individual images that can be viewed one after another. The difference is that slideshow ads only show images, not videos, and the ad transforms the chosen images into a slideshow that plays automatically as a video.

According to Facebook, slideshow ads are ideal for:

Creating a captivating experience quickly: With Slideshow ads, you can make video-like ads that are easy to create and edit with low production costs.
Making great ads quickly if you do not have creative assets: Use the free stock images Facebook offers, in addition to rich video-editing tools and a wide range of music options. 
Reaching people with slower connections and older devices: Slideshow ads use five times less data than videos.

Here are some technical specifications you should know about:

  • Use high-quality images of at least 1280 x 720 pixels and have a consistent aspect ratio of 16:9, 1:1 or 4:5. If all of the images have different sizes, the slideshow is automatically cropped to 1:1.
  • Use MOV or MP4 for video files.
  • If using music in the Slideshow Ad, you must have all legal rights necessary. You can either license the song or own the legal rights for it. If you bought or downloaded a song or album, you may not be able to use it in the slideshow.


Collection Ads:

The collection ads format includes an instant experience, making it easier for viewers to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their phone in a visual and immersive way. A collection ad includes a cover image or video with multiple products shown underneath. When someone taps on the ad, a full-screen instant experience will open. This type of ad format allows for a great way to drive traffic, increase conversions, catalog sales and store traffic.

These are some recommended specifications.

Video and slideshow specifications:

  • Aspect ratio: 1.91:1 to 4:5 for Facebook feed/1.91:1 to 1:1 for Instagram feed and Instagram Stories
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high-profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps
  • File type: MP4 or MOV

Image specifications:

  • Aspect ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
  • Recommended image size: 1,200 x 628 pixels
  • File type: JPG or PNG

Text specifications:

  • Primary text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 25 characters


Playable Ads:

The playable ad format is an interactive video ad directed towards mobile app advertisers who want to drive higher quality and higher-intent users to install their apps by offering the chance to try and experience the app before downloading it.
A playable ad allows you to create an immersive preview by using a lead-in video in the News Feed or Stories, encouraging people to play the app or game;  by allowing people to test-drive your app with a preview of your game directly from the ad before they install; and to find engaged players and customers by driving higher-intent players for your game or customers for your business.

This ad format comprises of 3 parts:

  • Lead-in video: the ads begin with a short video of your demo with an overlay of a game controller to indicate that your ad is playable.
  • Game demo: when a person taps a playable ad, they will be able to play a short, interactive and full-screen demo of your game without having to install anything.
  • Call to action: letting people tap to install the app from the App Store or Google Play Store.


What Kinds of Ads Work Best On Facebook? 

Now that we have talked about all the different types of ads that can be created on Facebook, which one is the best for you? To answer this question you should first have a clear understanding of your objective with the ads. Some types of ads are easier to identify if they would be relevant for your business or not. For example, playable ads are only relevant if you are promoting an app or a game app. Collection ads could be more important for ecommerce brands with the objective of driving conversions. Similarly, carousel ads work great for ecommerce by showcasing several products and liking the correspondent pages, but, this ad format can also be very effective for a company offering services by highlighting its key points and results.
Define your objective, consider the creative assets you already have and test it out!


Facebook is a powerful tool especially due to the incredible amount of active users present on the platform. Indeed, having this massive audience means that the people you want to target for your business already exist on the channel. Use this to your advantage by creating Facebook ads to promote your business. There are several types of ad formats to choose from, all of them listed above and also carefully detailed by Facebook.


If you’d like to discuss which Facebook advertising options are best for you with social media experts, contact us now! Or, email us directly at jennifer@appetitecreative.com. 


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