Facebook Ads; How Do They Work?

(Almost as easy as understanding magnets)

You understand the basics of social media marketing, but how do these things even work? This section will cover target audience, budget, and more!

Here’s the two-step process to advertising on Facebook:

Step 1: Have a Facebook/social media account
Step 2: Add a payment method to the account (gotta pay for those ads somehow)
And done! Blog post over (just kidding). Though it’s *technically* that simple, there’s still some other information you’d want to know, so keep reading!

If you’ve created an account before, adding a payment method will be under “Manage Ads”. Then “Settings” (gear-shaped icon) followed by “Ad Account Setup” (fill out all the info here). Lastly, go to “Payment Settings” (billing info including payment methods)
(Adams, 2019)

Settle Account: The section where you pay outstanding balances!!! (Adams, 2019) Personally, I don’t know if Facebook debt is a thing but don’t take that chance.

Pro Tips:

  • If you’re new to advertising, Adams recommends advertising under your own account
  • Set up your advertiser account (different than your personal account/page)! This is where all your advertising-themed stuff goes! (Adams, 2019)

Remember: The Facebook Ad Structure:

  • Campaign (the whole project’s goal. Check out “objectives to know” from my last post linked [HERE])
  • Ad sets (the defined placement, target audience, etc.)
  • Ads (the visuals of the ad)
    (Adams, 2019)

Split Test: An A/B test. This is a test where you compare two different ads to see which one is the best. The winner should be the one used in the full-scale campaign.

How to Choose a Target Audience (TA) for Facebook Ads:

  • Make sure your TA are people that will complete the objective (ex. Make it people who are likely to “buy now!”)
  • Consider audience size! (Facebook has a fuel gauge-style indicator to help you visualize if your audience is broad or specific)
  • You must know your TA’s location (country, city, etc.) because some place (ex. China) have different advertising laws
  • Know your TA’s age! Mainly so you don’t waste time targeting the wrong people, but also advertising laws for kids are different than adults
  • Gender & Language are also options to consider (depending on the product/TA)   
  • Narrow down your TA even more by targeting via interests (Use tool “Detailed Targeting” in Facebook)
  • Define the behaviours & connections of your audience for even more specific targeting
    (Adams, 2019)

Behaviours: “activities people do either on or off Facebook” (Adams, 2019)
Connections: Targeting based of prior connection you have to that person (example: a like on your page) (Adams, 2019)

Note: Location is important to know! (Adams, 2019). To help with this, Facebook offers targeting features such as excluding locations, targeting by location vicinity, and more.

Pro Tip: Facebook lets you save an audience you create. This is great if you’re planning on using the same audience multiple times! (Adams, 2019)

Steph’s Tip: Create a Persona

Before doing any of this on Facebook, create a TA persona! A persona is essentially a fictional person who’s the ideal fit for your target audience. Include things like their age, address, likes, dislikes, friends, everything! This way, before you start inputting all this into Facebook (or another social media), you have a clear idea who you want to target. 

The Budget:

Facebook will give you a suggested budget but honestly, just ignore it. They’re going to recommend a huge amount because they want you to spend it on their site! (cost control will keep Facebook on-budget though; don’t worry!)

Daily Budget: “How much you plan to spend per day”(Adams, 2019)
Lifetime Budget: “How much you plan to spend over the whole campaign” (Adams, 2019)

Pro Tip: (for daily budget), running an ad continuously is a very involved task! It’s recommended to set a set timeline (ex. two weeks) instead. This gives you a chance to look at the ad’s analytics easier (Adams, 2019)

On Facebook, when you get charged (example: click-through, impressions, etc.) is dependant on the ad objective (Adams, 2019).

Pro Tip: Ad scheduling (pictured to the side) is a more advanced way to run ads. This feature lets you pick the specific days/times your ad runs. This is good if your TA is usually only online at a certain time.

Placement: “where your ads show up” (Adams, 2019)

The Facebook Ad Manager will recommend placements for you automatically, but for better ad-control, you should look at these placements yourself. This is important because copy for different ad sizes or orientations. A graphic will look very different horizontally versus vertically! Much like ad medium, always consider the placement!

Devices are also important to consider. This is because if you only want ads to run for desktop users, don’t waste money running them to mobile users! This also works for specific devices (Apple VS Samsung targeting).

Different Ad Placements (on Facebook):

  • Feeds (will show up in the news feed as a sponsored post)
  • Instant Articles (god for blog-like media)
  • In-stream videos (essentially midroll ads for videos)
  • Right column (will show up on the righthand side of content)
  • Suggested videos (will show up as a recommended video)
  • Marketplace (will show up as an ad within Facebook Marketplace)
  • Stories (will show up as a sponsored story)
  • Messenger Inbox (will show up between chat threads)
  • Messenger Sponsored Messages (will show up as a chat message)
    (Adams, 2019)

Note: Facebook owns Instagram and is partnered with other networks (example: HuffPost) so you can advertise on those apps through Facebook (Adams, 2019)

The Creative:

Remember! Always consider ad placement, ad objective, and the TA when doing the creative for an ad! If you don’t, your ad might not make sense and become a total waste of money!

For creating your own ad, Facebook offers a feature where you can input up to six images for one ad. Facebook will A/B test these images to find the best image for your ad! Super easy testing!

Pro Tips:

  • Facebook offers a stock image library (powered by Shutterstock). This is completely free to use, and the final image won’t have the watermarks, don’t worry!
  • Use display links to make your ad look cleaner and more professional!
    (Adams, 2019)

Don’t forget to have a call to action! Facebook offers a feature called “Call to Action” that’ll add a call to action button to your ad for you.

Always refer to your “Ad Preview”! This makes sure your ads look clean, clear, and under control!

Pro Tip: Keep in mind Facebook’s ad policies! A newsfeed ad can NOT contain an image with more than 20% text (Adams, 2019). “The landing page must be relevant to your ad” (Adams, 2019). This means if you link to your site through a Facebook ad, you must mention your offer. 

The Takeaway:

These tips really work off the basics of an ad (if you need a refresher, check out my previous blog HERE!). It’s really important to understand four things:

  1. Your advertising goal
  2. Your target audience
  3. Your ad placement
  4. Your creative

Some tips to help understand your target audience is by creating a persona. Remember to include things like interests and behaviours! It’s also key to understand your budget and budgeting for an ad because no one wants to waste money!

To help me remember these tips, I like to think of ads I hate and why I hated them. So, if it’s annoying to be getting ads for things that’re irrelevant to you, know to target your ads! If it’s annoying to get ads not scaled to the device, don’t do that! It’s annoying (word of the day lol) and no one will like your company after that.

Thanks for reading this blog! If you have any comments, be sure to leave them below! Leave a like and subscribe as well to keep up with my blog. Lastly, be sure to tune back in for more posts going forward!


Adams, M. (2019, October 2). Advertising on Facebook. Retrieved from Linkedin Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/advertising-on-facebook-2/facebook-is-an-advertiser-s-dream?u=2109516

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