Meta Ad Types & How to Use Them

Need to know about every Meta and Instagram ad type but don’t have time to search and click through a million help articles? We’ve consolidated them into one post to help you figure out what kind of ad to run next. We also added a few creative best practices as well to help you get started!

Most Popular and User Friendly Placements

Single Image Ads

Send people to your website with--you guessed it--a single high-quality image

Single image ads are a great way to promote a specific product or service. You can utilize this ad type across all placements - Meta Feed, Right Column, Stores, Instagram Feed, Sponsored Message, etc.

Credit: Meta Business

[TIP] For optimal performance, we recommend using high-resolution images and following the image aspect ratios that are suggested for each placement.

Best Practices:

  • Keep brand tone consistent across campaigns: Your target audience may start to recognize your brand and may be more inclined to convert.
  • Avoid having too much text in your image: Less than 20% is ideal.
  • Show people using your product or service: These images should not feel like “ads” or stock images, but should look like native posts on your audience's feed.
  • Utilize 1:1 (square) images for feed placements: This size will display best across desktop and mobile devices.

Video Ads

Show off product features and draw people in with sound and motion

Videos generate better engagement, have a higher reach and conversion rate, and allow businesses to demonstrate product features and benefits in a more engaging and visually appealing way, making it easier for consumers to understand what the product does and how it can benefit them.

Credit: Meta Business

[TIP] We recommend using the correct sizes per placement. For more information on Meta & Instagram video specifications, see Meta’s Video Requirements guide.

Best Practices:

  • Keep your videos to 15 seconds or less: With humans typically having a short attention span, keeping videos short and sweet will help keep users engaged.
  • Put the most important & captivating information in the first 3 seconds: Again, with a short attention span, we want to ensure that users at least know the important information right away just in case they keep scrolling.
  • Incorporate your brand identity in the video: Like image ads, your target audience may start to recognize your brand and may be more inclined to convert.
  • Design your video for sound off: So many users are scrolling through their feeds with no sound due to being out in public, not wanting to hear any sounds. Rely on visuals over music or narration to provide impact & tell your story. If you do have people speaking, ensure you upload captions. This is especially important for users who might be hard of hearing as well.
  • Don’t have the time or resources to create a video asset for your latest campaign? You can create lightweight, affordable video ads from images you already have with Slideshow ads.

Carousel Ads

Showcase up to 10 images/videos within a single ad -- each with links that people can swipe/click through

Carousel ads are ideal for telling a story or showcasing different products. These types of ads are super engaging compared to single image ads and give you the opportunity to tell a larger story with the options to input multiple images, copy, and CTAs.

Credit: Meta Business

Best Practices:

  • Test different numbers of cards to best tell your story: Whether that means 3 or 10 images, test the amount of cards to see what performs best. Keep in mind CTR typically declines the further you go into a carousel ad.
  • Use headlines and descriptions in each of your carousel cards: These are optional fields, but they give you an opportunity to tell even more of your story or more about your product. They are additional opportunities to provide CTAs, context, and detail.
  • If you’re not telling a sequential story, enable the feature that shows the best-performing cards first: Always utilize automation when possible!

Instagram Stories

Increase your visibility and reach on Instagram

Instagram story ads give you the opportunity to showcase your brand in a creative way, using a combination of images, videos, and text. You can use this format to tell your brand's story, showcase your products or services, or run a special promotion.

Credit: Meta Business


Best Practices:

  • Think “mobile first”: Design your creative specifically for stories—full screen, vertical assets that incorporate the Instagram Stories experience, design and/or creative tools.
  • Begin with your brand: Stories is a fast environment, so every second matters. Integrate branded elements like logos and products at the start of your creative to capture attention and aid in brand recall.
  • Enhance with motion and sound: Create ads that leverage speed as a creative element and use voice-over or music as creative tools to enhance the message.

[TIP] Use automatic placements to achieve a more efficient delivery and better results.

Instagram Reels

Reach wider audiences and help people discover your content on popular placements

With Reels ads, your content can reach a wider audience than just your followers, helping you increase your brand awareness and attract new customers. Reels ads are short, engaging, and visually appealing, and will appear in the most popular places to access Reels content, including the Reels tab, Reels in Explore and Reels in your feed.

Credit: Meta Business

Best Practices:

  • Think “mobile first”: Similar to Stories, design your creative specifically for vertical placements. 
  • Keep it short and sweet: Instagram Reels have a maximum length of 60 seconds, but it's best to keep them shorter (around 15-30 seconds) to maintain viewer engagement.

  • Use trending music and sounds: Using popular music and sounds can help increase the visibility of your Reel and make it more engaging for viewers.

  • Experiment with different types of content: While Reels can be used to showcase products, services, or behind-the-scenes content, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of content, such as tutorials, challenges, or humor.

Lead Generation Ads

Collect information from people already interested in your business

A lead ad is presented using an image, video, or carousel, and followed by a lead form when the user engages with the ad. This format is a feature that you allows you partner lead generation forms with a single image or video ad; once they click, a form will appear with pre-populated information from Facebook.

There are multiple ways you can utilize lead-generation ads: 

Website conversion: This prompts users to fill out a form or action on your website.

Instant Forms: Ask people to fill out a form with your prompts so you can qualify your leads. Facebook makes it easier for your audience to fill out a lead form by auto-populating users' data into their form, leaving few questions for users to fill out.

Message: Prompt users to spark up conversations with your business, find out more about message ads below. Available on Facebook and Instagram.  

Message and Instant Forms: Combine the power of message ads and instant forms. Send people to the location where they are most likely to provide their contact information, whether it be through your instant form or your business's automated Messenger chat.

Calls: Direct users to give your company a call. Perfect for those in the service industry trying to book appointments or get quotes. 

Apps: If your business goal is to prompt users to download your app this ad type will direct users to your app.

Credit: Meta Business

Creative Best Practices:

  • Show your ad’s value - clearly communicate why it’s valuable for people to share their information with your business.
  • Keep it simple - avoid overwhelming your audience with too many questions or random questions. Keep your questions aligned and ask as few as possible.
  • Reflect your brand - your ad should reflect your brand or company and attempt to drive a response from your audience that builds intent.

[TIP] Carefully consider your form fields. To get higher-quality leads, customize your forms to ask for the most important information first.


Shopping Ads

Automatically show your products to people who have expressed their interest

Shopping Campaigns, formally known as Dynamic Product Ads, allow advertisers on Meta platforms to showcase their products in a visually appealing and engaging way, and drive sales directly from the platform. These campaigns are designed for businesses that want to boost sales, increase product visibility and drive traffic to their e-commerce websites.

Image source:


[TIP] To learn more about Shopping Ads take a look at our Beginners Guide to Facebook Shopping Campaigns here.

Instant Experience Ads

Capture the complete attention of your audience

Instant Experience, formerly called Canvas, provides a full-screen, mobile-optimized experience instantly from your ad. Within an Instant Experience, people can watch engaging videos and photos, swipe through carousels, tilt to pan, and explore lifestyle images with tagged products. All of this is combined in a single ad unit. This type of ad unit is incredibly engaging and allows the user to get a feel for your product/service before leaving the Facebook or Instagram Interface.

Credit: Meta Business

Collection Ads

Combine the beauty of single image ads and video ads into a shoppable ad format for Mobile

These ads encourage shopping by displaying items from your product catalog—customized for each individual. This ad format utilizes a hero image or video stacked on top of multiple cards with featured, shoppable products.

Credit: Meta Business

Messenger Ads

Spark conversations with your business

If you’re looking for a way to get more personal with your current or potential customers - this ad type helps you do just that. If you need more convincing to run these types of ads, according to Facebook, 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger each month.


Credit: Meta Business

Other Facebook & Instagram Advertising Tips

These tips below can be useful for any type of ad type you choose:

  • Keep your copy short, sweet, and to the point: Meta has character limit suggestions, which can allow advertisers to go over those character limits. However, if they are over the character limits, you can run into your copy truncating. If you stay within the limits, users will be able to see the full text variation without clicking “see more”.
    • 💡 You can preview your ads to see what they will look like on different placements. You can even change the text in different placements if you want users to see different text on a Story vs. Facebook Feed vs. Instagram Feed ad and so on. 💡 
  • Include a CTA (call-to-action) of what you want your users to do: There are a ton of CTA button options available. This might be obvious, but make sure that if you want a user to shop for a specific product, don’t include a CTA of “Learn More” -- utilize the “Shop Now” CTA.
  • Utilize Dynamic Creative: As mentioned earlier, we would recommend utilizing automation whenever possible. Dynamic creative is a great way to utilize Meta’s automation - all you need to do is input several images, headlines, and descriptions, and Meta will do the work for you. Meta will optimize and show the ad combination that they believe will achieve the best results, based on the goal that was selected (i.e. if your goal is “Leads”, Meta will show the combination that will lead the user to convert).
  • Placements: Because Meta will optimize by placement based on the goal you set, we recommend running ALL placements when utilizing Meta and Instagram, versus setting up campaigns separately for Meta and Instagram.

Ready to Create Your Campaigns?

Bookmark this page so you can always refer back to the different types of ads available so you never have to search through multiple Meta help articles again. Keep reading for more tips:

This post was originally written by Emily Pollock and published on July 14, 2020.
This post has since been updated by Olivia Kaufman and republished on March 22, 2023

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Olivia Kaufman
Olivia Kaufman
Sr. Manager, Paid Social