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The Great Facebook Ad Format Debate

There’s a popular belief in the Facebook and Instagram advertising world that video ads are the golden ticket to success. In fact, you may have heard the mantra that to excel in this arena, you must embrace the video ad format. But how true is this assertion? And if it isn’t entirely accurate, which ad format truly delivers the best results?

Drawing from a recent poll conducted among a knowledgeable audience of Facebook and Instagram advertisers, we delve into these questions, dispel myths, and shed light on the most effective ad formats for your campaigns.

Facebook and Instagram Ad Formats: The Survey Results

The aforementioned poll targeted an audience passionate about Facebook and Instagram advertising, yielding over 1200 responses. Before examining the results, it’s important to note that the poll question encompassed both Facebook and Instagram ad formats. This is crucial, as there are subtle differences between the platforms that can significantly influence the performance of different ad formats.

The poll offered several options for the best-performing ad format: video, image, slideshow, carousel, and ‘other.’ As many would expect, video emerged as the most popular ad format, boasting the best results for the majority of respondents. However, it’s worth noting that video was only the top-performing option 53% of the time.

Interestingly, almost half of the respondents reported that they did not see their best results from the video ad format. This finding shatters the common belief that video always works best.

blogger advertising shoe store at table
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Deciphering the Data: What Does It Mean for Your Business?

The takeaway from this data is clear: while video remains a dominant ad format, it’s far from the only game in town. Image ads, for instance, accounted for 31% of the respondents’ best-performing ads. Therefore, testing a mix of video and image ads is crucial, as either format could yield superior results for your business.

Carousel ads also deserve consideration. Although they accounted for only 9% of the best-performing ads, testing this format can be advantageous. While not necessarily your first choice, integrating carousel ads into your optimization schedule could potentially boost your ad campaign’s performance.

However, the efficacy of an ad format ultimately depends on what you’re offering. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in advertising—what works for one business may not work for another. This holds true for ad formats, just as it does for targeting strategies.

Whether you’re selling a product or service, your choice of ad format should align with your specific offerings. Certain businesses might find success with video, while others might thrive with image ads or other formats.

Decoding Ad Formats: Guidelines for Success

To help you navigate the vast sea of ad formats, here are some rules of thumb based on your specific products or services.

Broadly, the complexity of your ad format should match the magnitude of your ask. In other words, the more significant the commitment you’re asking from your prospects—be it time or money—the more intricate your ad format should be.

Consider these four main categories of Facebook ad formats in terms of complexity: image, carousel, slideshow, and video—with image being the simplest and video the most complex.

If your ask is relatively substantial, such as a consultation at your place of business, opt for video. This format allows you to pack more information into the ad, explaining why the prospect should take the action you’re suggesting.

On the other hand, if you’re offering something straightforward—an impulse purchase e-commerce product, for instance—an image ad can get the job done. The simpler your ask, the simpler your ad format should be.

Of course, there’s a spectrum of offers and corresponding ad formats between these two extremes. Your offer might fall somewhere in the middle, and thus require a format like a carousel or slideshow.

male and female advertising marketing or design creatives doing video presentation on laptop
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Testing Is Key: Uncovering Your Best Performing Ad Format

While these guidelines offer a starting point, testing different ad formats remains crucial. Even if your offer is complex, an image ad might still be effective—just as a video ad might work well for a simple offer.

By testing different ad formats, you might discover a winner you didn’t initially consider, potentially leading to a significant boost in your Facebook and Instagram advertising success. Even a 20% improvement in your return on ad spend might enable you to profitably increase your spending tenfold.

Conclusion: Beyond the Video Ad Myth

The survey data makes it clear that video ads, while popular, do not consistently yield the best results for Facebook and Instagram advertising. This debunks the long-standing myth that video is the ultimate ad format. The reality is more complex, with different businesses finding success with various ad formats, including image, slideshow, and carousel ads.

So, don’t let myths guide your campaign strategies. Instead, understand your offer, consider the guidelines mentioned above, and most importantly, test different ad formats to uncover the most effective one for your business. With this data-driven approach, you’re more likely to achieve success in the ever-evolving world of Facebook and Instagram advertising.

Michael Klein
Culture-Marketing Expert I bring together Culture & Marketing to Explain why things work.

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