How to start with Facebook ADs — For Beginners

Facebook has a network of 3 billion-plus active users on their platforms — Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger making it one giant virtual nation.

  • Every 4th post you see on Instagram is an AD, every 5th post you see on Facebook is an AD
  • An average user spends 24 minutes on Instagram and 27 minutes on Facebook

Back in December 2017, all I was left with was Rs. 5000 and it was probably my last attempt at saving my startup. I wanted to learn FB ADs to save my company.

In this blog, I will share how I started with FB ADs with no formal training and how I have been able to use them to drive sales and increase traffic on my website.

What are Facebook ADs / Instagram ADs

  • They look like normal Facebook or Instagram posts and stories and blend in your feeds. But. are marked “Sponsored”
  • They are tailor-made and suited to your interests. Eg — My mother is served with ADs about Beauty Products, while I see ADs about Marketing related products.
  • A person who is about to graduate from college will be served ADs about Online workshops, Job Portals, Higher Education, etc

Notice the Sponsored written below each post. Noticing the Sponsored text will help you identify ADs.

Here are some FB AD examples.



If you want to spy on the ADs other companies are running, in that case, you may want to check out Facebook ADs Library, where users can perform searches, and the dashboard will populate the relevant ADs, and provide some very deep insights.

In the below example, you’d notice that Facebook shares the number of ADs, and the details on the spending related to issues such as Politics, elections, or other social issues.

Now, we will notice some of the ADs that are LIVE by Unacademy, and further clicking on it will populate more results which can be helpful in finding unique insights about the “said company’s” advertising strategies on Facebook/Instagram.

If you want to explore the ADs library yourself, you can visit this link, and have all the fun.

Define your Goal

Every AD has a purpose or goal. Before we begin with the Facebook AD platform, let’s understand the major goals a marketing campaign can serve —

  • Downloads on an app
  • Brand recall — Retargetting ADs
  • Getting conversions/sales
  • Generating Leads
  • Spreading awareness
  • Video views

So before you begin with Facebook ADs, you should define your “Goal”.

This always helps us understand our objective and plan our path to learning accordingly.

Let’s begin.

3 components of a Facebook AD

Marketing campaigns can be broadly classified into a hierarchical structure that allows advertisers to run various experiments within AD sets, making it easier to test, track, and optimize.

In the next section, we will understand these 3 components —

  • The Campaign — This is where you define the goal of your campaign. Do you want to drive Conversions, or spread awareness, or create brand recall, or get app downloads, or activate ghost-users, etc
  • The AD set — This is where you define your audience persona — Demographics & Psychographics — Age, location, gender, interests, etc
  • The AD — The visual aspect of the AD includes — AD copy, Image, Video, Links, CTA (Call to Action), etc

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Campaign — This decides your Marketing Objective

  • Awareness involves running campaigns where people are informed about your brand, product, or service.
  • Consideration — As the name suggests, it encourages your target audience to take action or interact with your brand, service or product. It involves sending Traffic, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Generation or Messages.
  • Conversion — This urges your customer to either make a purchase that involves a financial transaction or urges them to visit a store or a restaurant or a cafe or a pub or a shop.

You choose one of the above options and proceed to give a name to your campaign. I am taking “Engagement” as an example, for now.

Now you would be prompted to decide a Name for the campaign and decide the Budget, that is the money you wish to spend each day.

2. AD Set — Define audience demographics & psychographics

There are multiple ways in which an audience can be defined, and the Facebook AD platform offers 1000s of possible permutations to help marketers define their desired audience persona with a lot of options.

The first step towards deciding your audience involves choosing the geographical location of your audience. I will take some examples to further understand this filter.

  • If I am an Indian Clothing brand, I will show my ADs only to people in India, preferably Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.
  • So choosing your audience’s location is very important. You can choose people and audiences across geographies

Next, you choose the Gender of your audience, their Age, and the languages they know.

  • If you have made a video in Hindi where you talk about “How to Prepare for 12th Board exams”, you will choose — Hindi, 17–19 years of age and All in Gender.
  • You have to be careful about your audience demographics such as Age, Gender, and Languages known.

Now comes the fun part. Trust me, it’s really FUNN. I can’t explain how creepy it gets when you get to see how you want to target your audience.

I will take examples to explain each selection you see in the following images -

  • If I run a gifting company, I will want my AD to be shown to people who are close friends of people who have birthdays coming up.
  • If I want to sell a honeymoon package I will want to show my AD to Married people ideally, you can target people based on Relationship Status.
  • If I run an event company and want my ads to be seen only to Founders and company owners, I can choose to target people based on their Job Titles
  • Let’s say you are selling Phone covers, you can choose to target people based on the devices they use to access Facebook. If I target only Apple devices, the likelihood of me targeting “The Fairly Richer” crowd is higher.
  • You can target people based on the college or school they studied from.
  • You can target people based on events in their lives — New house, baby in the house, new relationship etc.

It’s crazy how you have so many targeting options. They are 100s of options available, and you can use different permutations and combinations to create unique audience sets.

Let’s take some examples of brands and the combinations they can use to target their potential audience.

Diaper and Baby Hygiene Product Company

  • I would target parents and not babies. Hence, the ideal age group would be 24–32. Now I might want to split it further to test what works best for me, say 24–29 and 30–33. But let’s not get into that for now.
  • I can run ADs in different languages and target people who speak different dialects.
  • I can choose all the major cities because the likelihood of having online purchases is higher, but there might already be a lot of competition of similar brands in major cities. So I might want to experiment with parents from Tier 3 cities?

Ex — A Company which sells Personalized Handmade Gift — Stoned Santa

  • Let’s say they want to target people who have weddings and anniversaries coming up. They would ideally want to target people who are Engaged, or are married and have anniversaries approaching.
  • Target Age — 23–28 for people who are ideally engaged and about to be married
  • Target Age — 29–50 for people who are married and have anniversaries coming up
  • Now the likelihood of finding people who would be willing to purchase paintings that can cost more than an average gift can become challenging.
  • So the company decides to serve ADs in major cities and metros.
  • They serve ADs only to people who have iPhones or Apple devices because they are more likely to spend.
  • The company might want to use more filters to narrow its audience down.

Finding an audience on the Facebook AD platform is all about experimenting with different possible options and optimizing the combinations which give you results.

3. Let’s march to one of the most important parts of a Facebook AD Campaign. The AD itself.

Now imagine this, If you are a diaper company advertising diapers, but choose the following image instead of a diaper?

Wouldn’t it be a disaster?

The AD which is displayed has 3 important components -

  1. The AD Copy — You describe the product or the service, your target audience will want to read a little before they engage or buy from your brand.
  2. The image/video/images — The visual appeal to your AD comes from this very element. Choosing the right image, which is bright and visible is always a good idea.
  3. The CTA (Call to Action) — What action do you want your target audience to take? Do you want them to visit your website? Do you want them to download your app? What is the goal?

The above was the bare basics of how to get started with Facebook AD basics. There are tons of tutorials available on the internet for free, but if you have a basic overview of what Facebook ADs look and feel like, grasping the video content becomes easier.

Running FB ADs or any other form of Digital ADs requires experimentation and a lot of experimentation.

The options the Facebook AD platform provides are many. You can explore the Facebook AD platform at Business Manager Overview

Prerequisites -

  1. Facebook Page
  2. The curiosity to explore the platform

You spend only when you are actually publishing an AD online, and it gets approved. Thus, you do not spend money to explore.

Good luck.

Experiment, experiment, and experiment. I hope this helped.



Founder @StonedSanta, Educator, & Writer

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