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Facebook Ad Placements: How To Choose The Best One

Lauren Breen
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Imagine you’re choosing the best location for a billboard advertising a fitness brand in your town. A lot of considerations would probably cross your mind, including traffic, visibility, and potential demographics of people likely to see the billboard. 

With these things in mind, you’ll want to place your billboard in a high-traffic spot that will likely reach the right audiences, like on the route to a popular gym. 

The same principle applies when choosing placements for your Facebook ads. As you begin to build your Facebook advertising campaign in Ads Manager, you’ll be able to select which surfaces on Facebook platforms your ads can appear.

Choosing the best placements for your ads will come down to choosing the social media touchpoints where potential customers spend their time.

Before we run you through the various placement options available for your ads, it’s important to keep in mind that placements go hand-in-hand with other parts of your Facebook campaign. Available placements will depend on the Facebook campaign objective that you choose.

Your ad’s creative components will also shine more or less depending on their placement, and since 96% of Facebook users access the app through a mobile device, make sure that you optimize your ad creative for the Facebook mobile app.

Now, let’s dig into how you can (and should) set your ad placements in Ads Manager, as well as a breakdown of the placement options available to you.

Select your ad placements in Facebook Ads Manager

You’re able to view and select ad placement options for your ads at the ad set level. When choosing placement options, you are choosing how you want your ads to be shown across Facebook’s platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network. On top of choosing which platforms your ads will be shown on, you can choose how appear in different surfaces according to these categories:

  • Feeds
  • Stories and Reels
  • In-Stream
  • Search
  • Messages
  • In-Article
  • Apps and Sites   

There are two available placement options in Ads Manager that will determine how your ads are shown: automatic placements and manual placements. The option you choose will depend on how much control you want to give the Facebook algorithm to choose your placement options, which optimizes your ad spend for high-performing placements based on your objective. 

Choose between automatic and manual placements at the ad set level

When to choose automatic placements

Automatic placements allows Facebook’s delivery system to allocate your ad set budget based on their performance across placements with Facebook’s various platforms.

The goal of the Facebook algorithm is to give you the lowest CPC and best audience optimization across all available placements. As a result, Facebook will spend more of your budget on your behalf toward ads that are performing well in a given placement.

Because the Facebook algorithm is focused on ad optimization, we recommend selecting automatic placements when you’re first getting started with running Facebook ads. From there, you’ll be able to collect data on how your ads perform by platform, device, and placement.

You can view these metrics by using the Breakdown filter in your Ads Manager dashboard. 

When to choose manual placements

Manual placements allow you to choose your own ad placements across Facebook’s platforms. 

We recommend getting started with manual placements after you’ve gotten a hold on Facebook ad campaigns and have reviewed data on previous ad performances using automatic placements.

To get the most out of your budget and to increase the likelihood of reaching your target audiences, you should choose a variation of placements. 

You can see previews of what your ads will look like on different Facebook platforms if you select manual placements 

Within your manual placement settings, you have the option to show mobile-only or desktop-only ads. Facebook automatically selects “All Devices,” which means that your ads will be shown on both the Facebook app and desktop site if you don’t change it. 

If you choose to run your ads on both mobile and desktop, be sure that your ads are optimized for both sets of devices. Consider distributing more of your campaign and budget focus on mobile ads. AdEspresso conducted a study where they found mobile ad placements outperformed desktop by over 45% for lead generation ads.

Get to know the different Facebook ad placements available by platform 

Facebook offers various different placements across their apps and surfaces that you can leverage to target the right audiences, and to fit the needs of your ad formats. 

Facebook placements

Facebook News Feed 

The Facebook news feed placement is a common choice for Facebook ads to be shown because it is the first surface a person sees when they log into their account. Desktop news feed ads tend to have a higher click-through rates (CTR), and cost-per-click (CPC) rates compared to other Facebook ad types. Mobile news feed ads tend to have a high CTR, but CPCs tend to be lower than desktop news feed ads. 

Because of the high saturation of ads on Facebook news feeds, they are a highly competitive ad type. However, they are a good option if you are starting at the top of your sales funnel as they are heavily trafficked..

Facebook Right Column

Right column ads appear in the right-hand column of your desktop news feed. Facebook’s platform design is in an ongoing process, and so the current window of opportunity for people to view these ads are limited (to view these ads right now, you must be logged on Facebook, on desktop, and on your news feed).

News feed ads yield higher cost per mille, or cost per thousand views (CPMs) than right column ads because they are two times larger as they appear on the screen.

Facebook right column ad placement - source

But, remember what we said earlier about choosing various placements? When used alongside news feed ads, right column ads can get up to three times more engagement since they reinforce your brand to audiences. These ad types can be most useful when trying to boost brand awareness to new audiences, or when retargeting old audiences. 

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles are a native format meant for media publishers to publish full-screen, immersive articles on Facebook. Publishers have the option of monetizing their Instant Articles by using direct-sold ads or using Facebook’s Audience Network to insert ads. Your ads would be embedded within Facebook Instant Articles via Facebook’s Audience Network.

Ads displayed in Facebook Instant Articles - source

If you’re looking to embed your ads on mobile sites that host journalistic articles to begin with, you should choose Instant Articles as an ad placement since Facebook users open 52% more articles when they’re published as Instant Articles regular web links.

However, be sure that your ads are optimized for mobile since Instant Articles are a mobile-only ad format. 

Facebook Marketplace 

Ads shown within Facebook Marketplace appear within the Marketplace homepage or embedded among Marketplace listings.

These ad placements are ideal for ecommerce companies that are selling products that fall within Facebook’s Marketplace categories

Ads embedded within Facebook Marketplace - source

While this ad placement may yield fewer impressions than other selling platforms like eBay or Amazon, it can be most ideal for local businesses, since Marketplace products are primarily bought and sold locally.

Facebook Video Feeds 

With the video feed placement, your ads are shown in between organic videos shown on Facebook Watch and the Facebook news feed.

This ad placement is a great option for video ad formats that showcase your product or service, as there’s a higher likelihood viewers will already have their sound on and attention turned to the screen. However, for higher video views, consider using this placement in combination with the in-stream video placement. 

Facebook In-stream Videos

In-stream video ads run within Video on Demand and select partner live streams on Facebook. They can appear before, during, or after video content, and act similarly to a commercial break. 

While these ads tend to have low conversion rates, they have a 10% higher incremental reach than using mobile news feed placements alone. In-stream video ads are a great placement option for video ad content in combination with other ad placements. 

Facebook Stories 

The Facebook Stories placement allows for your ads to show up in Facebook Stories as people scroll between story updates.

Stories are a great placement for moving image or short-form video ads (under 15 seconds), as those content types tend to catch people’s attention when they are swiping through their story feed. Because they also yield high early engagement rates, they’re also good for brand awareness and reach objectives. 

Facebook Search Results 

The search results ad placement puts your ads on Facebook’s search results pages, which include Facebook’s general and Marketplace search engines. Ads in this placement appear just as they would in the Facebook news feed, and can exist in a variety of ad formats like video, photo, carousels or collection ads.

Note that this ad placement is currently only available on the Facebook app, so any ads you place here should be optimized for mobile. 

Search results ads appear when people search for terms similar to your product - source

This ad placement is good to use if you want to reach customers who are already searching for the products you’re selling, which could lead to higher conversion rates.

However, note that the search results pages on Facebook often present an overwhelming amount of options to people from official retailers and independent sellers, and your ad could get lost in the shuffle.

Instagram placements

Instagram Feed 

Similar to Facebook news feed ads, Instagram feed ads appear to users as they scroll on their main feed. However, unlike Facebook news feed ads, they are only available on the Instagram mobile app.

These ads appear like regular Instagram feed posts, but you can add CTA buttons to these ad types.

Instagram feed ads are a great way to reach Instagram users since the Instagram news feed attracts the most traffic. They’re also good for branching out from the Facebook app and maximizing your reach on the Instagram platform, given that they yield 10 times higher engagement rates than Facebook ads on average.

As you foray into running ads on Instagram, be sure your ads are visually engaging and creative, as Instagram is a visual-based app frequented by younger consumers. 

Instagram Stories

Also similar to Facebook Stories ads, Instagram Stories ads are full-screen vertical ads that appear between user stories.

Instagram Stories are a very popular surface on the platform, and tend to have higher CPCs than other placements. Instagram Stories placement is a great option to use in combination with Facebook and Instagram news feed placements in order to retarget people who are interested in your brand.  

Instagram Explore 

The Instagram Explore feature allows people to discover content that is relevant to their interests based on their past behavior on the app. According to Instagram, more than 50% of accounts on Instagram use the Explore feed each month. Instagram Explore ad placements allow for ads to be embedded in the grid of content that is already designed to be relevant to users.

Since 83% of Instagram users discover new products or services on the app, and the Instagram Explore feature’s main selling point is its discoverability of new content, it’s an ideal placement to use in addition to other Instagram placements. Since your ads will be shown among trending content in the Explore feed, you’ll want to make sure your ad creative is eye-catching and relevant.   

Instagram Shop

Instagram Shop is the platform’s built-in ecommerce platforms, where companies can share and upload their product catalogues. If you set up your product catalogue on Instagram Shops, you can directly tag your products in your ads (for more on how to do this, check out Instagram’s guide). 

Instagram Shop ads appear as users browse through products - source

Beyond setting up shop on Instagram Shops, you can also place ads here, which will appear to potential customers scrolling through the Shop feed.

Your ads will be embedded within users’ suggested products, so you should make sure to include clear and engaging images of your products to draw their attention. 

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is a surface that debuted in 2020 as Instagram’s answer to TikTok’s short-form video content. Similar to how Stories ads appear when swiping in between content, Reels ads appear when swiping between videos in the Reels tab. 

Reels ads are shown in between Reels organic content - source

Short-form video or moving image ads would do best here to grab your audience’s attention, but since Reels is still a new and evolving surface, it should not be your only placement option. You can reuse dynamic ad creative from Instagram Stories ads here to reinforce your reach.


Messenger Inbox 

Messenger Inbox ads appear between conversations in the home section of the Messenger app. These ads are marked as ads within a user’s chat log.

You can include CTAs in these ads, which can be opened and accessed by users if you click on the ad. 

Messenger Inbox ads embedded in a user’s chat history - source

Messenger Inbox ads are an ideal placement if your business uses Messenger as a communication channel with customers. However, be sure to be conscious of not bombarding customers with too many of these ads, as they can appear obstructive in Messenger. 

Messenger Stories 

Similar to Facebook and Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories ads appear in between stories shared on the Messenger platform.

Also similar to other story ad placements, your ads should be moving images or videos less than 15 seconds. 

You should use Messenger Stories ads if your business is already active on Messenger. Note that this ad placement is only available when used with Instagram Stories or Facebook Feed placements. 

Sponsored messages

Messenger sponsored messages appear in the home section of the Messenger app. These ads appear as message notifications, and when a person clicks on it, they can see the full ad with CTA buttons.

Sponsored messages that open when clicked on in Messenger - source

Messenger sponsored messages are ideal if your business uses the platform as an active communication channel with customers. Since sponsored messages look a lot like regular messages, they’re good to use with customers you’ve engaged with already on the app or people likely to be interested in your brand. You can use them to share active promotions or specials with customers. 

Audience Network

Audience Network ads appear on external apps via the Facebook SDK, which hosts Facebook advertisers on these apps. App publishers can elect to choose ad formats that they want to integrate into their app experience. Available formats include native, banner, interstitial and rewarded video ads.

Audience Network ads are shown in apps from across a variety of industries, and the Facebook SDK places ads that are the best fit for users of a specific app. Utilizing Audience Network ad placements is a great option if you want to expand your reach past the Facebook family of apps.

Available Audience Network placements - source

Ad placements available through Audience Network include:

  • Banner ads, which show ads in small banners atop an app’s UI
  • Native ads, which are ads embedded in an app’s user experience 
  • Interstitial ads, which are video pop-ups similar to in-stream ads
  • Rewarded video ads, which are used within gaming apps

Ad types for Audience Network include image, video and carousel ads, and can apply for a variety of objectives including brand awareness, traffic, and conversions. They can be used to reach audiences you might not otherwise, but note that they often have low engagement and low-quality leads.

Consider using these ads if your business is looking to target heavy app user demographics, such as people who use gaming apps. 

Ad placements: a recap

We covered a lot here, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, no fear! It can be daunting to choose the right ad placements within Facebook Ads Manager, since there are so MANY to choose from. 

Since different placements work for different businesses depending on your industry, creative, and audience targeting, let metrics be your guide. Try letting Facebook do the work first with automatic placements, then review how your ads performed afterward. 

You can also conduct A/B tests to test different variables in your ads (including placements) to determine what performs best according to your goals. 

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to try new placements and mix up your options to get the most exposure and leads for your brand. You got this!

Chapter 2:
Setting Up Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

What You’ll Learn: Get a high-level view of Facebook Ads structure, the components needed, and all the different options you’ll see as you set up your first ads.



Chapter 3:
Instagram Ads

What You’ll Learn: Instagram is a huge piece of the Facebook puzzle. Here you can learn about the specifics—from how to ace Instagram Ads to ad examples to tips specifically for IG.

Chapter 4:
Facebook Audiences

What You’ll Learn: The right audiences with the right offer will make or break your Facebook success, make sure you prioritize correctly.