Guide to Facebook Ad Placements: Everything You Need to Know

Facebook Ads feels like the land of limitless options. The world is your oyster and all that.

You can create so many types of ads that it’s hard to keep up with them all, and you can even reach people off of Facebook altogether.

This can be a great thing, but it can also be overwhelming.

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When I’m helping my clients manage their ad campaigns, one area that always stumps them is the placements.

“Should I just enabled them all?” I hear a lot. “I don’t even know what some of them are.”

In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about Facebook Ad placements, including all of your different options, the pros (and cons) of each, what they all mean, and how to choose what’s right for you.

Facebook placements are actually a pretty straightforward part of the Facebook Ads system, and as long as you have the right information on-hand, you can make smart, strategic decisions without a lot of risks involved.

This isn’t always true with other parts of the ad system, so look at this as one area where you have a little more control.

And now let’s dig in!

Facebook Ad Placements: What Are My Options?

Your Facebook placements will designate, of course, where your ad actually shows up and on which platforms. This, in turn, will affect several other factors, like the format your ad can take on different platforms, how much text you can have, and even ad cost.

According to our own detailed research, the placements you choose can affect costs by as much as around $0.90.

And the fact that different ad placements may be more effective than others just adds more complication to the mix.

Let’s take a look at each of the ad placements available to you, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide if they’re right for your campaigns.


Each of the following placements will be shown on Facebook, either through the desktop site or on its app. Not all placements will be available for mobile, and not all will be available for desktop.
They include:

Feeds. These ads are the ones you likely see most frequently, and they appear in a user’s desktop or mobile feed. They’re the standard ad format, and often feature headlines, ad text, an image or video (or both), and a CTA. Users can comment, like, and share these posts. When users click, they’re taken to a landing page or website of your choice.

Instant Articles. Instant articles look similar to feed posts, but they’re designed to get your content read by your audience. When users click, they’ll be taken to your article. Have your ads appear there.

In-stream videos. Think of these ads as a commercial break. Users watching certain high-value content might have their videos interrupted to a brief ad break, where they’ll be shown your video. The idea here is that an engaged audience will be held captive and watch the ad, waiting for the video to come back. These ads overall have been relatively unpopular with users, and there’s a decent chance that if they aren’t engaged enough with the original video, they’ll leave all together.

Right column. These ads have been around since early days in Facebook, and they appear as small, easy-to-miss ad campaigns with only a bit of text and a singular image. These ads are not as dynamic as you’d expect, and they can actually cost more on average than the more engaging desktop feeds.

Suggested videos. When users finish watching a video, they’ll see a list of “suggested videos” much like you’d see on YouTube. You can pay to have your video appear as one of these suggestions on relevant videos. An advantage to this placement is that if the user clicks, their interest is already piqued.

Marketplace. You can now showcase ads in the Marketplace, which is Facebook’s online storefront-meets-garage-sale. People there are already looking to buy, so this could be a good way to sell. The marketplace placement is new, so we don’t have a lot of data on it yet, but it’s worth testing as long as your targeting is strong.

Stories. Facebook Stories are the optimized-for-mobile, full-screen image and less-than-15- second video ads that will be shown to users as they’re watching feeds of their Stories. These campaigns have overall pretty high early engagement rates and are excellent for brand awareness.

You’ll notice that the marketplace placement is new (just added recently) and that Stories are now automatically enabled; previously, you could only run Stories ads if they were the only placement enabled.


Instagram has two placements for their ads to show up: feeds and stories.

Here’s what you need to know.

Feeds. These ads will appear in a user’s feed, and can include images, carousel ads, and/or videos. When users hover over the ad long enough, the CTA will light up, encouraging them to click. These ads are the only way to get clickable links (outside of shoppable posts) in feed content. Instagram feed placements do cost higher than average; you can see that in the graph in the first section. We’ll recap that again in a second.

Stories. Stories ads give you the option to add “swipe up to see more” links to your Stories, even if you don’t have them organically. Remember that you’ve only got 15 seconds tops, so you’ve got to make them count here. That being said, Stories ads have resulted in great engagement and ad recall for brands.

Alright, so let’s look at cost here, because while most brands know that Instagram has some incredibly high engagement, they also can get a little sticker shock.

Here’s the graph we had shared earlier:

It’s easy to see that Instagram is the highest costing ad placement, with Instagram stories ranking in at the second highest. In Q4 of 2017, Instagram Stories cost around $0.20 more than right column ads and $0.30 more than audience network ads, while Instagram feed posts cost $0.55 more than Stories. All this for a single CPC.

Still, don’t discount Instagram. Marketers wouldn’t continue to bid on this platform if it wasn’t worth it, and in a lot of cases, it definitely is. Just make sure you change the placements if you notice it’s not working for you. (We’ll show you how to do this in a bit.)

Audience Network

The audience network is made up of apps and websites participating in Facebook’s program, and will allow your ads to appear on the site. The “publisher” site gets paid, Facebook gets paid, and you pay to have your ad shown to relevant audience members even when they’re not actually on Facebook or Instagram. You can read more about it here.

Here are the ad placements that fall under this category:

Native, banner, and interstitial. These ads will essential appear in different locations with other apps and mobile sites. They can be adjusted to fit a site’s needs.

In-stream videos. This placement works the same as in the feeds, only the videos are taking place off Facebook. Same potential perks, same downsides.

Rewarded videos. This placement will not be for everyone. It’s designed for gaming apps with active games to showcase what gameplay looks like. Users can test it out in the ad before seeing a CTA to download the game.

Here’s the gist: you can get good results but at much lower CPCs than you’ll pay for other placements.

Engagement and clicks aren’t always as high on these placements because users are on other sites with the intent to use them instead of just browsing on Facebook, but getting some low-cost conversions in the mix helps keep your overall ad costs down lower.


Last but not least, we have the messenger placements. Here’s what we’ve got:

Inbox. Users browsing through their Messenger inbox may see a full-fledged ad for your brand, just as they would in the feed. If users are focused on conversation, they may not click, but since there’s less clutter overall, your ad can stand out here.

Stories. Stories here are the same deal as you’ve seen in the other sections.

Sponsored messages. This is currently only available with the “messages” objective, and it encourages users to send you a message directly. The ad will show up as a message in their inbox, as if the brand had contacted you. Think Sponsored Inmail on LinkedIn. When users open the message, they’ll see a message and a CTA to take action. Since you’re landing right in their inbox, they’re pretty much guaranteed to read it. Whether they take action is up to you (and your copywriter).

These are relatively newer in the grand scheme of Facebook Ads, so you don’t see them quite as often even though they have great uses. I’ve personally had great luck with the sponsored messages ads, but only when used correctly and when the copy is on point.

Should I Select Only a Few Placements?

When you run your ad campaigns, you’ll notice that pretty much all placements are enabled right off the bat.

Sometimes when I run ad campaigns, I go ahead and leave most of the placements enabled. In other cases, I’ll go through and only select a few.

If you really want to focus on engagement on-platform for the purpose of visible social proof, for example, it makes sense to disable audience network or messenger campaigns.

And if you’re creating campaigns exclusively with Stories in mind, I typically like to only have the Stories placement enabled; this content is often so different from what you’d feature elsewhere on your feeds or in other placements.

Keep in mind that even though some placements do cost more than others, you don’t automatically want to eliminate them.

Instagram, for example, typically has really high costs; it also typically yields higher results, too. Utilizing a balance of high and low-cost placements can help you reach the maximum number of your audience members possible with your ad spend. You can learn more about this here.


While Facebook Ad placements may seem a little overwhelming at first, they’re easy to tackle once you understand the system.

Knowing when to use each allows you to create a combination of placements for each ad to maximize results at the ad cost level you want to stay at, helping you reach as many users as possible at an ideal price point.

Adapted from Adspresso
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