3 formats to elevate your Meta ad success

Yasin Kheramand
October 3, 2022

Meta (or Facebook) advertising is one of the most effective forms of advertising. Incredibly smart algorithms and detailed targeting criteria allow marketers to target the people most likely to be interested in what they’re offering. These algorithms then learn from the results of the campaigns in order to target people similar to those who are taking action on ads, making it possible to expand marketing audiences in a smart, low-cost way.

While there is a lot to be said about the strength of Meta’s advertising algorithms, and even more on targeting and retargeting best practices and how-to’s, it makes sense to start with the basics–namely how to design ads that are likely to perform best across Meta’s platforms (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger).

In this article, we will outline 3 different types of Meta ads creative, and how you can design the best possible creative for each format in order to drive conversions to your campaigns. We will also review best practices on messaging in order to ensure you’re not wasting your marketing budget with cryptic messages and unclear value propositions.

Single images

The first type of ad you’ll see on Meta is single image ads. These are single frames, usually in a 1:1 aspect ratio that Meta will automatically use across all its different platforms.

Your entire marketing campaign on Meta platforms can technically be run using just one image with this aspect ratio as Meta will also show it on stories where the ideal ratio is 9:1, but will add colouring around it, and include the first 70 characters of your post description underneath the image–one reason why your description is going to be incredibly important. But of course these creatives are best suited to Instagram and Facebook feeds and explore pages (remember the good old days when you were only ever allowed to post square images to Instagram?)

Creating a single image ad doesn’t have to be too complicated. If you’re bootstrapping your own startup, or are a sole trader trying to save on costs, there are simple tools such as Canva that you can take advantage of in order to quickly create engaging content.

But keep in mind that you will be judged by the quality of your graphics. Consumers are targeted with a myriad of advertising on a daily (or rather, hourly) basis, and have learnt to simply tune most of it out. Your design and messaging needs to stand out, which is why it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a designer and marketing expert. If your budget just doesn’t allow you to indulge in such luxuries, there are some best practices you can follow–keep in mind that these apply to all types of creatives;

  • Create your own branding

Come up with a set of colours, fonts and designs that you feel represent your brand, and stick to them across your advertising. This is particularly important if you’re going to be running retargeting campaigns as the audience will need to learn to identify your brand.

  • Perfect your messaging

Messaging is incredibly important. Research has shown that the average attention span (the amount of time we focus on a new piece of information online) of humans is now eight seconds, which is down from twelve seconds in 2000, and confers on us the dubious distinction of having an attention span shorter than that of goldfish. This is why your “one-liner” should capture the essence of what it is you’re offering in as few words as possible.

  • Put your value proposition front and centre

Stop wasting time, money and words on idealistic, or complicated messaging that sounds like something out of a 1980’s apple ad campaign (yes, we all love Steve Jobs, but our product is sadly not an iPhone).

Your messaging needs to do 3 things:

  • Capture attention
  • Communicate value
  • Call to action

We will explore best practices for each of these 3 things in later articles; but for now just try and capture the essence of what your brand or product offers in as few words as possible.

This ad was created by Move78 for our partner, Zellar. Notice how the text is short and to the point, aiming to communicate the value being offered in the shortest time possible.


Carousel ads have really taken over in recent years. These are a slideshow of a few images or videos that users can swipe. There are a few benefits to using carousel ads, and marketers highly recommend using them because:

  • They do not cost any more than single image ads, and allow you to communicate more information and have more opportunity at converting a user.
  • Users have to swipe on the ad in order to see the full slideshow. This is an “Engagement” which Meta keeps track of. Engagement means that user might be interested in your ad, and you can use retargeting to target the users who engaged with your ads; i.e liked, shared, saved, commented or swiped. In this case, the swipe action is only available on carousel ads.
  • By using a slideshow, you can tell a story, or have a flow to your advertising. The first slide can capture a user’s attention, the second slide will reel them in with some more information on what you’re offering; and the final slide will try to convert them with a CTA (Call to action).

Creating carousel cards is also possible using Canva and other design tools. You can use the same design language for all three (or more) cards, but aren’t necessarily limited to using the exact same colours on all the cards. Your imagination is your only limit here, but it’s important that there be a flow and an order to the slides.

The order you put them in needs to make sense, and each card should somehow connect to the others. Facebook has an option that, if selected, will automatically show the best performing card (the one that gets the best engagement) first. If your slides only make sense in a certain order, be sure to switch this off; but it’s worth designing your ads in a way that re-ordering them doesn’t affect the messaging in order to take advantage of this feature on facebook ads manager.

Image Description: Carousel ads have a certain flow. Notice how the messaging on the first slide poses a question to the viewer, and the second slide provides them with a path to an answer (use our product to find out). The third slide aims to call them to action.

Story View

Since introducing this feature to Instagram in order to compete with Snapchat in 2016, the story has become one of the most important ways social media users post content to Instagram, facebook and WhatsApp (here it’s called “Status”).

Due to the high engagement, stories are a great way for advertisers to get their messaging in front of their target audiences, but there are certain best practices to follow which will help you take full advantage of your advertising budget.

  • Use videos

Stories are best when envisioned as videos as the extra animation and movement attract more engagement. But you don’t have to spend thousands on video equipment or even try and brush up on video editing skills in order to be able to build successful story ads. The easiest and most effective way to create engaging video content for story views is to animate the still images you have already created. This can also be done using Canva, but tools such as Jitter and Adobe After Effects will produce more professional content. Add build-in and build-out effects to your text and images, and ensure the text appears quickly–within the first 0.5 seconds (if you don’t catch your audience’s attention, they will tap through to the next story).

  • Use carousels

Most users tap through stories (specially ads) quickly, and will not spend too much time on each story. The best way to ensure at least part of your message will be seen by every impression (every person facebook shows your ad to–and charges you for) is to have multiple stories. In order to do this, you need to select the carousel option which will create multiple stories (one for each carousel card).

By following these fairly simple and straightforward guidelines, you can create an incredibly effective ad campaign across Meta platforms–driving engagement and conversions without having to break the bank.

In later articles, we will explore best practices on messaging, targeting and audience retargeting as well as share learnings about branding and how it connects with growth marketing.  

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