Social Media Ad Formats: Complete Overview 2019
Advertising is an important part of social media marketing. But with so many different ad formats to choose from, one can quickly lose track. We’ll help you find your way. Use our overview of currently available ads on some of the most important social media channels.
Despite all the criticism in the recent past, the world’s largest social network is practically indispensable for social media marketing. However, the reach of organic posts on Facebook has been declining for years. This makes it all the more important to find your way around the Facebook ads jungle, which at first glance seems somewhat impenetrable.
If you want to start a Facebook campaign, you must first select a campaign objective. Depending on which target you choose, you’ll have different advertising options.
You can see an overview of all currently available campaign objectives here:
Photo Ads are the classic kind of Facebook ads. They are easy to create, efficient and suitable for many purposes. They are composed of an image, a text with a maximum of 125 characters and a link. You can also add a Call To Action button.
There are two ways to create them: Either convert an existing post into an ad or create your photo ad separately in Facebook Business Manager.
Videos are king in the 21st century. And with video ads you can reach more people than with any other ad format. Facebook gives you a lot of choices here: Whether short or long, in the news feed or in stories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to placement.
Tip: Videos for Facebook are relatively easy to create. But make sure to optimize them for use with mobile devices and pay special attention to the very first seconds. The better you are at captivating users right on from the beginning, the higher the chances are that they will watch your video until the end. Entertainment is key, striking “advertising” rather not.
The so-called “Carousel Ads” contain up to ten pictures or videos. Particularly useful: You can add an individual link to each picture or video.
Tip: The functionality of Carousel Ads is ideal for presenting several products together. Alternatively, you can use this ad format to tell a coherent story or to illustrate a process, for example a manufacturing process.
Similar to Carousel Ads, Collection Ads consist of several components. In this case there are four: a cover image or video and four smaller images. Most of these smaller images are product photos. When a customer clicks on them, they are taken to an Instant Experience (see next paragraph).
Tip: Collection ads are also suitable for digital window shopping. By connecting to an Instant Experience you can successfully encourage Facebook users to buy. A dose of humor, as in this example, can’t hurt.
Instant experience used to be called canvas. The principle has remained the same: It’s a full-screen landing page within Facebook with an extremely fast loading time.
Tip: Facebook offers various templates for instant experiences, for example for storytelling, product presentation or lead generation.
Playable ads are an option if your company distributes apps. They show keen users an interactive full-screen demo when they click on it and forward them to the Google Play Store or App Store via a Call to Action button.
Creating a video ad without video? Slideshow ads allow you to do just that. Facebook combines images you’ve selected into a video slideshow. These ads can be created quickly and easily and work great with slow internet connections because of their small amount of data.
Originally introduced by Snapchat, stories are very popular on Facebook and Instagram because they are a personal and narrative format. With Story Ads you can take advantage of this popularity. However, they are not an ad format of their own, but are automatically selected as placement when you choose a photo, video or carousel ad.
Messenger ads are another placement possibility. As the name suggests, they appear in Messenger between chat messages. This way, as with other ads, you can forward users to a shop, but you can also motivate them to contact you in Messenger.
Messengers are becoming increasingly important for marketing. This also makes Messenger chatbots more and more important. Read our blog post “How to use Facebook Messenger chatbots effectively in marketing and customer service” to find out how to use both for your social media marketing.
Instagram has evolved from a much-noticed newcomer to a top dog among social networks. With its focus on visual content and high interaction rates, it offers fascinating opportunities for social media marketing. The close connection between Facebook and Instagram is an advantage in advertising. Ads for Instagram can be created and analyzed centrally in Facebook Business Manager.
The selectable campaign objectives in Instagram are brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installations, interaction, video views and conversions.
Instagram offers the following ad formats familiar from Facebook:
- Photo Ads
- Video Ads
- Carousel Ads
- Story Ads
- Collection Ads
- Instant Experience Ads
Eye-catching visual content is key on Instagram, even more so than on Facebook. After all, it’s all about seeing (and being seen).
However, there are differences to Facebook in the specifications. For instance, video ads in Instagram have a maximum length of 60 seconds.
Advertising on Twitter, is it worth it? It depends. In any case, advertising on the microblogging service has special advantages:
- The potential reach of Twitter ads may not be as large as that of their counterparts on Facebook. However, you will ideally reach many opinion leaders at once.
- On Twitter, you only pay for performance, for example for actual conversions. Impressions and commitment are provided free of charge.
- The network offers you some particularly interesting targeting possibilities. These include keyword targeting, with which you can address users who have used a certain word, hashtag or word combination in their tweets in a predefined period of time.
- Ads on Twitter are quite cheap compared to advertising on Facebook.
Twitter gives you the following campaign objectives to choose from:
- Tweet interactions
- Video ads
- Website clicks and conversions
- App installs or new interactions
- In-stream video views
- Quick Promote
As mentioned before, you only pay for actual results. Those are measured depending on the campaign goal you set. If you choose awareness, you pay for impressions, as opposed to paying for new followers when choosing followers or for website clicks and conversions when selecting link clicks and website card clicks.
Tip: Quick Promote allows you to convert an existing tweet into an ad easily.
Sponsored tweets are “normal” tweets that have been converted into ads. Basically, you can use any tweet you want. Apart from being marked as an ad, it looks like a normal tweet. This has the advantage that it blends into the timeline naturally. A potential downside is that the same character limit as for regular tweets still applies.
If you want to win new followers and increase your reach, you can start a follower campaign and run sponsored account ads. These Twitter ads will be displayed in different places, next to the timeline, in the search results or under “Who to follow”.
Info: Additionally, there are sponsored trends on Twitter that are displayed to users on the “Explore” tab. According to Twitter, however, they are currently not available for “self-service advertisers”.
YouTube is the No. 1 video streaming platform and the second largest search engine in the world. You can place ads on the network via Google Ads.
The following campaign objectives are currently available on YouTube:
- Website traffic
- Product and brand consideration
- Brand awareness and reach
If you select one of them when creating your campaign, certain options and settings are automatically suggested to you. Alternatively, you can choose not to select a target and not use these recommendations.
Skippable video ads (True View Video Ads)
The popular True View video ads are characterized by the fact that the user can cancel them after 5 seconds. This has two advantages:
- On the one hand, this form of video ad is much less intrusive than non-skip video ads.
- On the other hand, you only pay if users have viewed at least 30 seconds of your video or click on the ad. So you generally only pay for users who are really interested in your ad. A fair deal.
The maximum length of True View video ads is 3 minutes. They will be shown before, during or after the main video.
Tip: When using skippable video ads, it’s even more important than usual to get users excited and curious, or encourage them to watch your ad for more than 5 seconds.
Non-skippable video ads
These YouTube Ads can be a maximum of 15 seconds long. Skipping is not possible. This entails a certain risk that users are put off by the ad. Try to come up with an entertaining video that doesn’t follow classic advertising patterns.
Discovery ads consist of a thumbnail of your video and text and appear in search results or next to similar YouTube videos.
Bumper ads are up to 6 seconds long videos that appear before, during, or after the main video. They cannot be skipped. “Short and sweet” is the motto here.
The relatively new out-stream ads are not visible on YouTube itself, but on partner websites and apps only. They are played without sound. When a user clicks on an out-stream ad, it will be unmuted.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network and the proverbial gold mine for B2B marketing. According to LinkedIn, regular content gets up to 15 times more interactions than LinkedIn job ads.
First and foremost, LinkedIn ads can reach influencers, decision-makers within companies and other opinion leaders. Not a bad audience, is it?
Campaign objectives on LinkedIn correspond to the well-known phases of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration and conversion.
Sponsored content appears directly in the feeds of users. Depending on your choice, it can be single image ads, video ads or carousel ads. In addition, forms for lead generation can be integrated.
Tip: Sponsored content is versatile. You can use it to distribute interesting blog posts, company news, YouTube videos and much more. Like always, you benefit from expressive visual material.
Sponsored InMails represent a special form of “advertisement”. They are personalized messages that end up directly in the mailbox of your target group. And only if the respective person is currently active. These social media ads are, for example, very suitable for invitations to events.
Text ads appear in the right sidebar and at the top of the main feed. They are easy to create and can be used, for example, to advertise job ads. The name “Text Ad” is misleading. In addition to a heading and a description, these ads can also contain a (small) image.
Dynamic ads are generated on the fly and the user’s own image features in an direct call to action as shown in the screenshot. In practice, this means, for example, that a member of your target group will see a personalized ad for your content or one of your events. Dynamic Ads are available in different versions, e.g. as follower and spotlight ads. One of their strengths is that they generate a lot of attention.
You want to know more about “B2B Marketing in the LinkedIn Universe“? Then download our free guide now.
By its own account, Pinterest is the ultimate traffic generator for online shops. In fact, the network shines not only as a meeting place for do-it-yourself fans and recipe exchangers, but also as a source of ideas for shopping. And the number of users is increasing rapidly. So it’s no wonder that the platform has been offering various ad formats since April 2019.
The first step when creating a campaign on Pinterest is to select a campaign objective. The available ones are:
- Brand Awareness
- Video views
- App installs
- Shopping catalogs
Promoted pins look like an ordinary pin, except for the indication that it is an ad.
Tip: You need great lifestyle pictures to succeed with your Pinterest marketing. It’s best to show your products in action instead of using clean product shots.
You can also make use of the special advantages of videos in Pinterest ads. Pinterest gives you the possibility to view videos not only in normal “pin width”, but also in full screen size and to reuse videos from other platforms.
Promoted carousel pins
Carousel pins on Pinterest work similar to carousel ads on Facebook, except that they allow for 2 to a maximum of 5 images. This way you can tell a short story or present several products at once.
Promoted app pins
If you want to market apps via Pinterest, you can save users the detour to an external website. A click on a promoted app pin gives them the opportunity to purchase the app directly.
Your target group is a decisive factor when choosing the right platform
Every social network has its own advantages for social media marketing. This also applies to the placement of advertisements. There are a few questions that will help you make the right choices:
- Which target group do I want to reach and on which channels can I reach them best?
- Which goals do I want to achieve with my campaign?
- Can my products and services be presented in a visually appealing way?
Oftentimes it is most effective to place ads on several platforms and thus collect new leads or followers across platforms. In any way, a smart strategy is crucial to the success of your ad campaign.
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