Unsure what Facebook ad placement is right for your ads?
Want to improve your Facebook campaign effectiveness?
Is your campaign type using the optimal placement for your end goal?
In this article, you’ll be guided through how to decide what ad placement is best suited for your Facebook and Instagram campaigns in order to improve your ads’ performance.
* This article was updated November 2019 to reflect new placement options available to all advertisers.
What is Facebook ad placement?
The different places in which your ad is able to appear on Facebook are called ad “placements”. You set your placement at the Ad Set level of your campaign and your ads can appear on Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network and/or Messenger depending on your campaign objective. These are known as platforms and within each platform are a series of placements.
To date, Facebook currently offers 15 different placement options from which you can choose to best target your desired customer avatar. Facebook has updated how they group placements so they are easier to understand.
The placements are now grouped by how people will experience your ad across platforms. For example, if you were to choose the Stories placements for your ads, the end user will have a similar experience, whether they view the stories ads on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The same goes for Facebook and Instagram Feeds placement.
Choosing your placement
A new ad campaign can be created either via the Quick Creation workflow or using the Guided Creation method, and you’ll be able to set your placements at the Ad Set level of your campaign.
Click on Create campaign. In this example, we are using the Quick Creation workflow.
Next, select your objective and then name your campaign, ad set and ad. Finally, click on Save to Draft. This will create a draft copy in Ads Manager.
After doing this, clicking on your campaign name and you will automatically take you to the Ad Set level.
To make sure you are viewing your campaign at the ad set level, in the left hand side pop out menu you’ll see Ad Set highlighted in blue.
Once there, you’ll see the ad set that you previously made within your campaign. At the Ad Set level, you are able to set your budget, audience targeting and bidding optimisation as well as selecting your ad placement.
To select your ad set, tick the box next to its name and click on Edit. From here a new ‘edit’ window will open from the right side of the screen for you to adjust the settings.
Once in the Edit window, scroll down to the placement section.
You’ll see the following two options:
1. Automatic placements
2. Edit placements.
Which option you choose will depend on several factors which you must take into account in order for your ad to perform optimally. These factors include your campaign objective and what audience temperature you are targeting, i.e., how qualified your targeted audience is.
Select ‘Edit placements’ and a list of all 15 placement options with a tick box next to each one will appear, from which you can select to suit your campaign goals. Here you can turn on or off the placements you want to use in your given Ad Set.
Let’s look at each placement option in turn.
Here, your ad will appear to people scrolling through their Inbox, Desktop or Mobile News Feed.
#1 Facebook feed
Selecting this placement type means your ads appear in the Desktop News Feed and or the Mobile News Feed. Mobile News Feeds includes Facebook users accessing the platform via a browser as well as the native smartphone app.
When you hover over this option, you’ll be shown an example ad to give you an idea of what ads look like using this placement.
This placement choice is one of the original placement options Facebook has offered since rolling out its ad services; this placement is also the most common and most effective amongst advertisers.
Due to its success with advertisers, it can also be the most expensive in terms of Cost Per Mille (CPM), due to the fact that Facebook acts as a bidding system, with more competition resulting in the higher bidders winning placements in front of the best quality audience. CPM is a measure of how much it costs per 1000 ad impressions.
#2 Instagram feed
Next, we have the Instagram feed. Here, users will see your ad whether they are on a laptop or desktop computer, or accessing Instagram via the app or on a mobile web browser.
Due to Instagram’s immense popularity with over one billion active monthly users, this is now the second most effective placement option for your ads- as long as your target audience is active on Instagram.
You want to run this alongside your Facebook feed placement, a method known as split testing.
You can then breakdown your campaign and ad data via placement to see which one generates the best results. It’s important to remember to analyse the results of a split test like this, as you can lower your CPM and consequently improve your ads performance and increase your ROAS.
#3 Facebook Marketplace
A relatively new ad placement choice compared to the others in the Feed section. This option allows your ads to appear in the Marketplace home page or when someone browses Marketplace in the Facebook app on their phone.
It’s worth noting that Ads in Marketplace will also appear in News Feed. It’s not currently possible for an ad to only appear in Marketplace.
If you know your target audience and their behaviour, such as how they like to shop for local deals on low to mid-price items, Marketplace can be a great option.
This placement type can also be highly profitable for eCommerce companies who also understand their consumers buying behaviour. However, this isn’t the placement for high value items or service-based businesses.
#4 Facebook suggested video
With this campaign placement, your ads appear in the video feed on Facebook, specifically, the suggested videos feed and the Facebook Watch feed.
As a marketer, it’s worth remembering that video is the most effective content type around. It allows you to gather low cost, high quality engagements and build a warm audience of people which you can then remarket to with new ad campaigns.
This audience will now have already engaged with your brand and so can be regarded as pre-qualified. Therefore, this is a great Facebook ad placement option when running video content to cold audiences alongside the Facebook and Instagram Newsfeed placements.
#5 Facebook right column
One of the least used placements, the ‘right column’ choice allows your ads appear in the right-side column across Facebook to people browsing on Desktop only. This clearly limits the exposure of your ads to Facebook users to a certain demographic, desktop users, leaving out laptop and mobile users altogether.
This placement choice is best used for remarketing campaigns targeting hot audiences of website traffic to act as a top of mind reminder alongside the Feeds placement. As this is a Desktop only placement and the majority of your reach will be on mobile, you’ll find that it won’t get that much reach compared with feeds on mobile.
#6 Messenger Inbox:
Last in the Feeds category is the Messenger Inbox placement. Here your ads appear in the Home tab of Messenger between conversations.
The Audience response to this ad placement hasn’t been as strong compared to Feed placements. This is because ads in Messenger feel more intrusive to the end user, who came to the messaging tab to have a personal conversation with their friends or family and are now being confronted with multiple ads. Due to the one to one nature of messaging, it does not perform as well when compared with the continuous content scroll found in the Newsfeed.
When a user clicks on an ad, they’ll be sent to a detailed view within Messenger that shows your full ad with your call-to-action (CTA) button. The CTA should be clear and concise, directing users to the link destination you set when creating your ad.
Currently, the ‘Stories’ placement is one of the most under-priced placements you can currently use on Facebook and Instagram. The organic use of the Stories feature is growing rapidly with over 500 million people using it every day.
Within the Stories placement there are three further platform options: Facebook, Instagram and Messenger Stories. The most common placement of the three is Instagram, as this is where the feature originated (technically it was Snapchat and then Facebook copied it and made it better).
The recommended optimal ad creative dimension is full-screen vertical images or videos (9:16) which appear when switching stories from one user to another.
#10 In-stream category
With Facebook In-stream videos your ads will appear before, during or after video content. As covered earlier, video content is more popular than ever, which is why Facebook launched Watch and IGTV to capitalise on this movement and to take on YouTube.
It’s no surprise then that we see In-stream video as a placement option as this is almost identical to in-stream video placement on YouTube.
The in-stream video advertising placement allows you to deliver 5-15 second video ads to people watching videos on Facebook and through the Audience Network. With the very short video length requirements, you need video creative that grabs attention immediately and keeps the overall messaging concise.
One of the issues with the in-stream placement is that you are interrupting someone who has already taken an action to watch a video, therefore your engagement rate won’t be as high when compared to the Feeds placement for example.
#11 Messages category
Not to be confused with the Messenger Inbox placement in the Feeds category, Messages placement involves creating message ads.
Here your ads appear as messages that are delivered directly to a person when they have an existing conversation with you in Messenger. Therefore, this can only be used to target a very specific warm audience of people, who have previously engaged with you via Messenger.
Facebook gives you a minimum bid to get delivery with the placement and it varies massively by country. In the US for example the recommended bid is $30 CPM.
That’s a relatively high CPM for a warm audience and unless you have run previous campaigns to build up your Messenger list, then your budget would be better spent on other campaign types using different placements and objectives.
#12 Contextual spaces
Next are Contextual spaces, Facebook could also put in-stream video placement under this category as that could also be considered a contextual space. What Facebook means by that is an ad within a piece of content, and in this case it relates to the Instant Articles placement.
Again, as with in-stream videos, you are interrupting someone when they have already engaged with a piece of content in the Newsfeed. Therefore, your engagement rate will be lower as you sit among the original content that a user has chosen to read. It can be used for hot audience, website remarketing campaigns alongside the right column and feeds placement.
#13, #14, #15 Apps and sites
Next, we have Apps and sites, essentially the Audience Network. Here there are three options to choose from. The first is native, banner and interstitial. These are your classic display placements similar to Google display advertising.
The second is rewarded video, here your ads appear as videos that people can watch in exchange for a reward in an app, such as in-app currency or items.
The third is Audience Network in-stream videos. This is identical to the Facebook In-stream video placement.
The issue we’ve found with the Audience Network is that because there is so much inventory, the cost is far lower than all of the other placements, however there is a trade off with audience quality. You don’t see a high conversion rate compared with the other placements. Again, this could be due to the same issue that occurs with the Instant Articles and Facebook In-stream placement where you are interrupting people who are already engaged with a third party app or website.
Automatic vs. Edit Placements
Should you select Automatic or Edit placements? Facebook suggests using Automatic but there are a number of cases where you won’t get the best results if you choose Automatic.
More often than not you’ll want to edit placements and remove ones that will underperform.
Optimal placements when using the Video Objective
For example, if you are running a video views objective, you want to use the Feeds placement for Facebook and Instagram as well as suggested video, that’s it.
Instagram has a 120 second video length limit so if your video content is longer than that you’ll want to either break out Instagram feeds into its own ad set or use a shortened version of your video. Or edit your video so that it is under 120 secs long and then run a single version on the three placement options in a single ad set.
Optimal placements when using the Traffic Objective
Next, if you are using the Traffic objective, you want to again use Edit placements and remove the Audience Network. As previously mentioned, this is the least effective Facebook ad placement option and is only useful when you are running an App installs objective.
We’ve found for peak campaign performance you want to use the Feeds placement, both Facebook and Instagram, as well as the Stories placement.
Optimal placements when using the Conversions Objective
When using this objective and optimising for an event action at the bottom of your funnel, such as a purchase or client sign up, you’ll want to use Automatic placements.
As you set a high value conversion action compared with just a link click or landing page view when using the Traffic objective, Facebook is forced to send your reach to only the most effective placements at generating that action.
So even as the Audience Network is included along with other placements such as right column, in-steam and instant articles, when you break down your results via placement you’ll find the majority of your reach and results come from the Feeds placement and Stories.
How to measure placement effectiveness
To see which placements are delivering the best results in your campaign, in your Ads Manager dashboard navigate to the Ad Set level of a campaign, as covered earlier.
Then on the far right click on Breakdown. Here you’ll see a dropdown of different ways you can segment your data.
Under the “By delivery” section click on Placement and then you’ll see rows of your metrics via each placement that you are running in your ad set.
There are a lot of placement options to consider and the current list of 15 will only get larger as Facebook introduces ads into WhatsApp next year.
Although Facebook recommends Automatic placements for every objective, use it selectively for example when using the conversion objective and the optimisation action is further down your sales funnel, such as a Purchases.
When using other objectives such as Video or Traffic, use Edit placements and remove low value options such as the Audience Network and contextual placements.
What do you think?
What placements do you use?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.
About Charlie Lawrance
Charlie is an advertising strategist, writer, speaker, and agency owner. He’s the Founder and CEO of Gecko Squared, a Facebook and Instagram advertising agency that specialises in working with high growth clients from around the world including eCommerce, software and professional service businesses. He’s been planning and buying digital media for over 9 years since he started his first business aged just 18. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Charlie Lawrance).