Before you can start churning out winning ads on autopilot, you need an in-depth understanding of the different parts of a Facebook ad. This will help you determine what you’re going to tweak when testing different ads, after all.
By distinguishing between the primary text and the headline - and knowing the impact both have on ad performance - you can begin to make informed decisions and start scaling campaigns with ease. As you’ll soon find out, the anatomy of a Facebook ad contains five different pieces - each of which is important for advertisers to leverage when building ads.
However, not all Facebook ad formats contain the exact same parts. Some ad formats are missing one or two pieces that others contain. In this article, we’ll break down all you need to know about the anatomy of a Facebook ad. But more importantly, we're going to teach you how you can go about optimizing each of these elements to get the most bang for your buck as a Facebook marketer. Let’s not waste any more time!
Breaking Down The Anatomy Of A Facebook Ad
We're going to start by explaining the five key elements of any Facebook ad. While these are not present in every single ad format, you will find all of them in the basic ad formats you will use most frequently. Allow us to explain the:
- Primary text
- Call to action
First and foremost you have the primary text. This element is one of the most important because it's where you have the most room for text. Now, that doesn't mean you should cram your primary text with as many words as possible. But, it does mean that you have a lot of potential here to entice the reader, communicate your offer, and encourage a click to your lander.
If your ad creative is an existing post, you won't necessarily be able to edit the primary text - you'll use the post text instead. And while just about all ad formats allow for primary text, the specific quantity of characters shown varies greatly. On the Facebook news feed, for example, your primary text will show a few lines before cutting off and presenting the option to "read more". On other formats, like the Instagram news feed, you may only see one line of text. You'll have even fewer characters displayed in story ads.
But just know this - you are allotted up to 125 characters of text here. Should you use all 125? Maybe - or maybe not. Your specific offer and target audience will dictate just how much text is the sweet spot. For example - a trendy e-commerce brand will likely see better performance with shorter primary text. Meanwhile, a service-based business with a target audience of e-commerce brands will probably want to use more text. There is really only one way to find out where you fall on this spectrum: test! So, be sure to keep all other elements equal and test short primary text vs long primary text to determine which performs best for your audience and your offer.
Don't stress too much over the primary text - it's actually not even the most important element of the Facebook ad anatomy. In our opinion, the creative is.
The creative is - to us - the most important of all parts of a Facebook ad. Why? No amount of copywriting will be able to make up for a boring, low-quality creative. The studies show that this is where most of your audience's eyes will go first. Think about it like this - most users are on Facebook and Instagram to consume content - mainly, images and videos. While they will read your text as well, they need to be enticed with proper creative, first.
It's the image, gallery, or video you use that can make or break your success with Facebook ads. Your creative is the most powerful weapon you have in your arsenal as a Facebook advertiser. You can do so many different things here. If you're an e-commerce brand selling products, you can show them in action via video ads. Or you can create an easy shopping experience with a gallery of your product variants - using simple images. You can even use a single image with some text added to the image.
Again - only you will be able to determine which Facebook ad format best suits your unique offer and target audience. Any Facebook ad campaign should consist of different creative types: single images, image carousels, and videos. This isn't just because you can find out which creative type works best - it gives the Facebook algorithm more to work with for delivering your ads. If single images aren't converting, the algorithm can show more videos, for example.
One of the best pieces of advice we can offer is to continue testing new creative. In fact, many digital advertisers have a set budget each month that goes towards developing and implementing new creative. You can do this by partnering with influencers, encouraging authentic UGC, or investing in professional photo and video production. If you don't add new creative on a weekly basis, your ads will drop in performance over time as things get stale.
The headline is another really important component of the Facebook ad anatomy. While the primary text gives you the chance to communicate your offer using longer form text, the headline should be used to hook people in.
Here, you can display the big idea behind your ad. Are you selling a digital marketing service? A headline that agitates pain points like low ROAS, unprofitable ads, or too much time spent in the ads dashboard will call out to e-commerce brands looking to outsource their ads.
Or, perhaps you're an e-commerce brand running your own ads. You can use the headline to communicate the value of your product. What problem does your product solve? Communicate that value - or agitate the problem itself - in the headline. When it comes to using emojis in Facebook ads, the headline is one of the best places to do it.
Depending on the type of ad format you're running, your headline may be displayed above your primary text - making it the first piece of text users see. In other cases, it will be right below your creative. As such, you should carefully think out your strategy in using headlines. And, you should constantly test new headlines to see what converts best. Because you're only allowed 40 characters in your headline, you need to be really creative with how you use that space. What separates the best headlines from the rest, you may be asking? They are capable of combining elements of interest/intrigue, urgency, and a call to action in just those 40 characters.
Perhaps the most underutilized part of a Facebook ad is the description. That's because on many ad formats it doesn't even appear - such as story ads. However, when running carousel ads on Facebook, you can really boost CTR and conversions with a quality description. This section doesn't grant you much room for text either - so use it wisely.
Here, you can add an extra bit of information about your offer. Communicate value like free shipping, customization capabilities, important features, or anything else you think will push a user over the edge and force them to click the final component of the facebook ad anatomy - the call to action button.
Call To Action Button
The call to action button is pretty self explanatory - this is the button a user will click to learn more about your offer. It's the one aspect of the anatomy of a Facebook ad that you can't tweak very much. You are limited to predetermined selections within the Facebook ad builder. While "shop now" or "learn more" are the most commonly used CTAs, there are plenty of others for you to experiment with. Here is a comprehensive list:
- Shop now
- Learn more
- Sign up
- Contact us
- Use App
While there isn't much wriggle room for optimization with the CTA button, it is important that you carefully construct this final element. One of the most egregious mistakes we see Facebook advertisers make is putting an improper link in their CTA - whether it be a broken link altogether or simply the wrong destination. Remember - your goal is to make it as easy as possible for a customer to click that button and enter their credit card, request additional information, sign-up for a demo, whatever action it is you want them to take. Always double-check the link!
Are Different Parts Of A Facebook Ad More Important Than Others?
That concludes the basic breakdown of the anatomy of a Facebook ad. We've also explained basic information on how you can get the most out of each element. But now, you're probably wondering - are different parts of a Facebook ad more important than others? Where should you spend most of your time testing and optimizing?
While all five parts of a Facebook ad are important, there are a few that we encourage you to spend more time on. As you can probably imagine, the most important is your creative. If your creative is incapable of enticing a user, they'll rarely even read your copy - rendering your primary text, headline, and description useless.
Next to the creative, the headline is probably the area you should focus on most. It is the biggest, boldest text on your ad - so you want to use it wisely. You should also work to optimize primary text. If you feel that you have exhausted all your tweaking and optimization possibilities in terms of your creative, headline, and primary text (we don't believe you), you can also start working on your description and CTA.
Keep In Mind: Not Every Ad Format Or Placement Has The Same Parts Of A Facebook Ad
We want you to keep in mind that not every Facebook ad format has the exact same anatomy. Further complicating matters, different ad placements display the parts of a Facebook ad differently, too. You'll find that the importance of certain elements varies depending on the ad format and placement.
For example - the primary text is far more important on a single image ad being displayed on the Facebook newsfeed than a video d being displayed on an Instagram story. Along with testing and tweaking your individual ads, you can learn a lot by testing different ad formats. Here are the different options you have:
Facebook Ad Formats
- Single image ads
- Carousel ads
- Collection ads
- Slideshow ads
- Single video ads
- Instant experience ads
Facebook Ad Placements
Along with these ad formats, you can choose the placements for which your ads are displayed. Historically, leaving placements alone has been the best approach - the algorithm knows best, after all. However, you may find that certain placements just don't perform well for you - while others exceed expectations. Consider testing the following placements on Facebook/Instagram:
- Instant article
- Instream video
- Suggested video
- Messenger inbox/stories
All things considered, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to building, testing, and optimizing your Facebook ads. Don't let it overwhelm you - start with the basics and let the ad campaign run. See what happens, and just tweak one thing at a time. As time goes on, you'll be well on your way to producing winning ads at a high rate of success as you learn what works well and what doesn't.
Final Thoughts On the Anatomy Of A Facebook Ad
Now you know the anatomy of a Facebook ad, the tips to success for each part, and the different formats/placements you can test out. If you want to learn more about Facebook advertising, check out some of our other related resources. We wrote a complete guide on the Facebook CBO, as well as how to conduct a Facebook ads audit and start optimizing your campaigns. We recently broke down a common question new marketers ask us - why is my Facebook ad not delivering?
Really, though, there is just one thing left to do. Get in your ads manager dashboard and start building! You'll have to put your money where your mouth is if you truly want to learn how to run profitable campaigns.
However, you don't have to go the path alone. There are thousands of digital marketers just like you learning as they go in our digital marketing community. From complete beginners to the most successful digital advertisers and e-commerce players in the game, you can gain valuable insights along your journey in the Utopia. Get inside and see what we have waiting for you - you won't regret it!