The Facebook Ad Network is massive and provides lots of placements for you to show an ad to potential customers.
Each placement has its own characteristics whether it’s the Newsfeed, Messenger, right-hand rail, or someplace around the audience network.
But Facebook Ads placements are often overlooked when developing account strategy or optimizing performance.
So what’s the problem?
Despite the large number of options here, I typically see advertisers fall into one of two categories:
- No attention paid to placements
- Choose a set list of placements and only ever run there
Both of these strategies have their place and can work well for certain businesses, but I believe having a specific placement strategy is important to make sure you’re making the most of the wide network we’re given.
Below is a rundown of what Facebook Ads placements are, some common mistakes I see, and the strategies I believe all advertisers should employ.
What Are Facebook Ads Placements?
Let’s start all the way at the beginning.
Facebook ads can show in many different placements around the Facebook Ads network.
The full list of placements can be found in your ad set settings.
The default view is to Automatically show in all placements.
If you click on Manual Placements, this opens up the full list of available placements on the network.
This list is constantly changing, so the list you see above is accurate as of April 2020.
This is a pretty long list.
If you’re not sure what some of these placements look like in action, hover over their name and a sample ad will be previewed for you on the right.
You control which placements your ads show in by clicking the checkbox next to the placement name.
If the box is checked, then your ads can show in that placement.
The Most Common Placement Mistakes
There are two placement mistakes I see more any other and they’re the polar opposite of each other:
- Never customizing by placement.
- Being too restricting of placements.
Always showing in every placement and never optimizing for those performing best is leaving incremental efficiency on the table.
Most likely, there are some placements that are giving you more bang for the buck or some that are money losers for you.
Taking a little time to customize placement strategies can make a campaign far more efficient.
On the flip side, locking into one or two placements can also be leaving money on the table.
Advertisers who do this mostly focus on showing in the Newsfeeds, which also typically are the most expensive placements.
Focusing only on one or two placements can limit your reach and cause you to spend more money acquiring a customer than you needed to.
Ideal Facebook Ads Placement Strategy
So what should a Facebook Ads placement strategy look like?
Here’s how I (typically) like to approach placements in my accounts.
1. Start Off with All Placements Chosen
Unless there are clear restrictions, I like to always start off with automatic placements chosen.
This gives my campaigns the widest reach and allows me to gather as much data as I can before narrowing my placement list.
Here are a few things you can learn from letting your ads run on all placements before customizing:
- What platforms/placements do your audiences see more often? Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc.
- What types of devices do they utilize more?
- Which placements have the most engagement?
- Which are the most expensive in terms of CPC, CPM, or CPA?
- Which placements have the best ROI?
2. Review Performance & Customize
In the Facebook Ads interface, you can review the performance of placements by choosing the Placement section of the Breakdowns.
Based on the performance I see here, I can customize my placements for each ad set, audience, and campaign.
Here are some optimizations you can make based on this data:
- Turn off placements not working well.
- Create new dedicated ad sets for certain placements performing exceptionally well.
- Customize ads by placement to improve performance.
3. Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Just like all other ad strategies, placements can have changes in performance over time.
Depending on how much traffic you have flowing through your campaigns, you should be reviewing placements anywhere from every 2 weeks to every quarter to make sure you’re still focusing on the right placements.
When to Customize Facebook Ads Placements Before Launching
With all that said and my ideal placement strategy laid out, there are some instances when it’s necessary to adjust placements before launching a campaign.
Past Performance & Tight Budgets
I’m not a complete monster. I realize in some instances, you might not have enough budget to test all placements before limiting.
If you’ve run campaigns before and have past performance benchmarks and know some placements simply don’t work best for you, then turning them off to prioritize spend for the new campaigns can be crucial.
Make smart financial decisions, but I’d prefer them at least be backed up by historical data where possible.
Ad Previews Are Not Flattering
Before I launch any new creative, I also preview it to see what it looks like in all available placements.
Once you’ve loaded all ads into the campaign, spend some time reviewing the preview of those ads in each placement to see if they are brand safe and show your offer in a positive light.
If they do, then great, you’re off to the races.
If not, spend some time customizing your ads by placement to make the most of each option.
One of the biggest concerns I hear when suggesting we run in all placements to start is that the ads might show up against unsafe content.
This is mostly only an issue for the Audience Network and there are a couple of ways that Facebook works to put your mind at ease.
Using inventory filters, you can decide where your ads show with basic settings.
Facebook provides a rundown of what types of content fit into each category to help you make a decision.
To further control where your ads show, Facebook also gives the ability to use Block Lists and exclude specific placements from the Audience Network.
To learn more about these, head to the Brand Safety portion of Facebook Business Manager.
Overall, either through the standard category targets or customized block lists, you can control where your ads show and make sure your brand image is covered on the Audience Network.
It doesn’t take much to regularly review Facebook Ad placements, but it can have a big impact on account performance.
Make sure you’re not being too broad or limiting with placements, regularly review and optimize based on performance, and you’ll get the most out of this basic yet fundamental setting.
- 13 Facebook Ads Features Every Marketer Should Know
- 7 Unexpected Tips That Will Make Your Facebook Ads More Effective
- How to Choose the Right Facebook Ad Objective for Your Goals
All screenshots taken by author, April 2020