The ultimate guide to Facebook ad placement

The ultimate guide to Facebook ad placement

When creating Facebook ad campaigns there are lots of decisions you have to make such as: who to target, what bid strategy to use, what copy to use, what images to use and of course where to display your ads, also know as ad placement.

In this article you’ll learn the 5 different types of ad placement, when best to use each one and the impact on cost per click (CPC).

Before we get into what the different ad placements are, you first need to know where to find this setting. Ad placement sits at the Ad Set level just under your audience targeting.

If you’re shaking your head about what the Ad Set level means, read this first and then come back to this article.

NOTE: When choosing ad placement, by default Facebook will select  “Automatic”. To get the best results you want to choose your own placement so select the “Edit Placements” option.


#1 Desktop News Feed

If the Desktop News Feed is selected your ad will be shown in the News Feed of your target users when they are browsing Facebook on their computer. Just because it says “Desktop” it doesn’t actually mean it’ll be shown only to people on a desktop computer, it also includes Macs and laptops.


Desktop Ad Placement

When to use it

The optimal ad placement is often a mix of different ad placements. We run 99% of all our campaigns on the Desktop and Mobile News Feed.

However, if you have a complicated end goal which requires someone to take multiple actions, making it harder to complete on a mobile device then you could just target users on the Desktop News Feed.


Expected cost per click 

Ads on the Desktop News Feed placement experience the highest cost per click. It’s not uncommon to see CPCs 2-4x higher than on Mobile News Feed placement and up to 10x higher than on the Audience Network.


#2 Desktop Right Column

If you choose the Desktop Right Column placement your ad will be displayed in the right hand sidebar that sits next to the Desktop News Feed, under the Trending section.

There are only 2 ad allocations and unlike the other placements there are no call to action buttons. When a user scrolls through their News Feed the ads remain fixed at the top of the screen so they are in constant view.


Right Column Ad Placement

When to use it

For almost every advertising objective targeting cold prospects, ads in the Right Column experience a lower click-through-rate (CTR) than all other placements.

However, Right Column placement is very effective when used in tandem with Desktop News Feed placement for retargeting campaigns to warm or hot prospects.

For example, if you are running a content based campaign to a Lead Magnet then up-selling opt-ins to a paid product or service using retargeting campaigns, Right Column placement will be more effective.


Expected Cost per click

Expect to pay less than Desktop or Mobile News Feed placement. However, with no direct call to action button click through rates are negatively affected.



#3 Mobile News Feed

When you choose the Mobile News Feed placement your ad is displayed in the News Feed of users who are using the Facebook app on mobile devices such as iPhone and Android as well on tablets.

Your ad will also be shown to users who are accessing Facebook through mobile browsers on smartphones.


Mobile Ad Placement


When to use it

This is the most common ad placement alongside the Desktop News Feed and is the one we use for 99% of all of our campaigns. It’s no surprise that it’s the most popular because all 12 advertising objectives support the ad placement.


Expected cost per click

The cost per click when using Mobile News Feed placement is lower than when using Desktop News Feed placement but higher than Desktop Right Column placement.



#4 Audience Network

The Audience Network allows you extend your campaigns beyond Facebook to reach your audiences on mobile apps, mobile websites, Instant Articles, and videos.

Unlike Mobile or Desktop News Feed placement which can be used for the majority of the advertising objectives, the audience network can only be selected for campaigns created using the following objectives: Clicks to Websites, Website Conversions, Mobile App Installs, Mobile App Engagement, Dynamic Ads and Video Views.

Below are the 3 different ad types within the Audience Network (from left to right: Native, Interstitial and Banner)


Ad Placement audience network

When to use it

You can’t just select Audience Network placement on its own, it is linked with Mobile News Feed placement. Therefore, when you select Audience Network you’ll automatically choose Mobile News Feed placement as well.

If the audience reach on Facebook using the Desktop and Mobile News Feed placement isn’t enough then add Audience Network placement.


Expected cost per click

Here’s where things get interesting. In our research we found that when you run a campaign with the Audience Network placement Facebook will push 90% of your ad impressions to the Audience Network.

It does this because the Audience Network experiences the lowest cost per click, up to 4x lower than Mobile News Feed placement. However, we’ve found that it doesn’t convert anywhere near as well as the other placements, such as Mobile and Desktop News Feed.

Ultimately, the benefits of a decrease in cost per click don’t outweigh the reduction in conversion rate and therefore we avoid using the Audience Network.



#5 Instagram

Instagram is the newest of the ad placements. When you use the Instagram placement your ad will be shown in the home feed alongside posts from user’s friends and family.

The initial reception to ads on Instagram back in late 2015 (when they opened the ad platform to all businesses) wasn’t positive, in fact people absolutely hated them knowing that they were going to see more and more ads.

Today, compared with ads on Facebook there is still a sense of unfamiliarity and annoyance associated with seeing ads on the platform, which in turn can lead to lower than expected campaign performance.


Ad placement Instagram


When to use it

Use Instagram advertising if you business lends itself nicely to the visual element of Instagram, meaning that you can easily create visual content (images or videos) AND if your target audience fits the core demographic of Instagram users.

For example, businesses that come to mind when you think Instagram success are: anything in the fitness and wellbeing space and most B2C eCommerce sites particularly those in fashion and beauty.


Expected cost per click

Cost per click can vary as Instagram placement is often used alongside other Facebook placements to act as an extension in audience reach.

We’ve seen that when used in conjunction with other ad placements such as Mobile and Desktop Newsfeed, which tend to perform better, Facebook reduces ad impressions on Instagram.




Ad placements aren’t mutually exclusive, meaning you should use more than one placement in your campaign. The best campaign performance comes from a mixture of ad placement depending on the campaign objective and the temperature of the prospects you are targeting.

For example we run 99% of our campaigns on the Mobile and Desktop News Feed placement and add the Right Column placement for retargeting campaigns.

To recap then the 5 ad placements are:

#1 Desktop News Feed

#2 Desktop Right Column

#3 Mobile News Feed

#4 Audience Network

#5 Instagram


What placement are you using? Have you experienced similar CPCs?

Leave a comment below or tweet me @charlielawrance.

About Charlie Lawrance

Charlie Lawrance is the Founder and CEO of Gecko Squared, a digital marketing agency that specialises in Facebook advertising. His clients include eCommerce companies, professional service businesses and best-selling authors. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Charlie Lawrance).

11 Responses to The ultimate guide to Facebook ad placement

        • Great question Nigel. It’s hit or miss at the moment. Similar to when Instagram started showing ads, people aren’t that responsive to them as they aren’t used to seeing them yet. Also messenger is more personal than the Newsfeed so it can feel like an intrusion for users.

  1. THEY DON’T PUSH 90% to audience network anymore it’s now more like 50% it’s a shame because my cpc now skyrocketing 400%, they now prefer ctr and relevance score to determine the placement. I tied all combinations possible to trick them to choose for audience network but they keep going back to place my ads on the feed network. It not matter how many clicks you get on audience network mine was 3x higher and 4x cheaper than on the facebook feed resulting that now my costs for my ad’s are 4x higher my clicks 3x lower for the same budget. It’s a shame……….

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