Facebook Ads 101 – campaigns, sets, and ads

Cheap, effective, and user friendly, Facebook Ads is more than just a quick way to market on the biggest social media platform in the world – you can also create mobile ads and Instagram promotional content. Finding a way to use this service that best benefits your business requires some trial and error, but understanding the basics of how Facebook structures the ads and the rules you need to follow will give you a solid foundation to begin building your campaigns.

Creating a campaign

Facebook organizes your ads by campaign. Here, you’ll set a goal for the ads you create under the campaign so that you can track their success. For each campaign, you’ll choose one of nine advertising objectives. Track the engagement level of page posts, how many likes you receive during a campaign, clicks to your website or website conversions. Other objective choices include app installs, app engagement, event responses, offer claims, and video views.

Organizing ad sets

Under each campaign, you’ll create ad sets. These sets are grouped by how you’re targeting the ads contained in the set, where the ads will be placed, and your budget and schedule.

Budget: Set a maximum amount you want to spend daily or over the lifetime of the campaign.

Scheduling: Decide if you want to run the ads continuously, or during a set period of time.

Placement: Ads can appear on desktop and mobile platforms. Desktop options include ads in news feeds and on the right-hand sidebar of Facebook. Mobile ad options include inside the news feed and ads placed on mobile websites and apps outside of Facebook. You can also make sets that appear on Instagram.

Targeting: The beauty of Facebook Ads is your ability to set targeting filters for every ad set you create. The options are extensive, including targeting by basics such as:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Age
  • Language
  • Education

You can also get a bit more personal, filtering by:

  • Birthday
  • Likes
  • Interests
  • Relationship status
  • Relationship interests
  • Workplace
  • Connections and friends of connections

Group the ads you want to create by these metrics. Then, you’re ready to create unique ads under each set.

Creating your ads

Now it’s time to let your creativity flow and design different ads. When you’re just starting out, using Facebook’s Ads Manager dashboard is quick, easy, and intuitive; however, once you get more comfortable with the system and start seeing what ad campaigns are working, Power Editor gives you a bit more creative leeway, and it’s also the only way to create Instagram ads.

Design ads to appeal to the targets you’ve chosen for the set, and keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  • Test different ad designs to find which performs best. Use two different images with the same copy, two different types of copy with the same image, etc., to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Ads with images, as opposed to illustrations, tend to perform best
  • Incorporate testimonials or strong business statistics into copy to create social proof

Following guidelines

Facebook reviews every ad you create before it goes live. This typically takes about 24 hours, and as long as you follow their guidelines, you should be good to go. Make sure to review Facebook’s official policies, but here’s the gist of it. Ads cannot:

  • directly or indirectly reference any personal attributes, including race, religion, age, beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, financial states, name, or gender identity
  • contain any form of adult content, including suggestive content, explicit content, or nudity of any form
  • link to Facebook or Instagram branded content, in written or image form

When you combine the low cost, extensive visibility, and unparalleled targeting capabilities, Facebook Ads offers business owners an effective, budget-friendly marketing solution.


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