Do brands really need social media to boost their marketing? This was the burning question just a few years ago. Then came the dispute of which social media platform to focus on. And now with all the dust settling, the new confusion for marketers is due to the variety of ad formats that each social media platform offers.
And one such debate is the one concerning the format of Facebook ads: carousel ads and single-image ads. While the concept of carousel ads does exist on other platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, today we are going to talk particularly with respect to Facebook ads. Because, just like the algorithms differ across these platforms, the effectiveness of these ad formats varies across them too.
With the goal of our discussion today established, let’s quickly brush through the basics, shall we?
These are the simplest ad formats to explore on Facebook. You have a single image to represent your idea. The ad can also have a catchy footer and a CTA button for the users to click provided the design convinces them.
There is a carousel or a slideshow consisting of different slides or images, each representing your idea. So, you can have one core image that captures attention followed by supporting images that build on the idea and emphasize the essential details. You can add up to ten images in one carousel. Each slide in the carousel can have a footer and CTA similar to single-image ads.
Both these ads share some common benefits like the insightful analytics data from Facebook, measurable increase in organic reach, and significant improvement in conversions with good design and execution. But then, each of these formats has its own set of unique advantages. Knowing them will be the right way to understand which format will suit your Facebook marketing objectives best.
One of the biggest perks of working with a single-image ad is that you only need one image to convey your message. When obtaining marketing designs that look and feel like your brand feels like a challenging job, getting a single high-quality image to capture the idea will be enough to get your campaign to kick off. Of course, this will not be something to worry about if you have an internal team for all your designs or a design subscription that takes care of all your social media designs.
Another benefit is the native feel that single-image Facebook ads have. After all, they are called “promoted posts”. As your target customers scroll through their regular Feed, they will see this ad as just another post. On the other hand, a carousel ad pops out as something different from the rest of the content on the Feed. And we all know that banner blindness is real. You do not want your customers to overlook your ad. In such cases, a native-looking single-image ad might seem like the more convenient option. Put in simple words, you might have better chances of your customer clicking on your single image ad. When you have a convincing design that is!
You can create single-image Facebook ads directly by promoting one of your existing posts. If you have a post that has received good engagement and if you wish to use this as an anchor for new leads, single-image Facebook ads work well. For those times when you do not have the bandwidth to create a new design, you can repurpose your old content this way. Of course, with the option to include a CTA besides the existing post description.
One hard-to-ignore detail that many would notice is that for carousel ads to look their best you need square images. But that’s not the case with single-image Facebook ads. You can explore a range of aspect ratios. So, whatever orientation feels best for your design concept you can easily use it in your single-image ad.
With a single image being displayed to all your target audience, establishing your brand identity becomes easy. A single image that strongly captures your brand’s visual style will leave a lasting impact on your target customers. And if this one image has a strong emotional value or if it clearly tells customers how your products or services are relevant to them, they respond by clicking the CTA.
Sometimes, one image is not enough to deliver the intended message. That’s where a carousel ad feels like a more effective choice. For example, a real estate firm that wishes to share multiple images of a property being advertised can use carousels. Or when you want to promote a single product, each slide in the carousel can focus on a different feature. Thus you have a convincing ad that provides a lot of information.
Carousel ads deliver an immersive experience. Your Facebook ads are valuable customer touchpoints. And when you use interactive ads like carousel ads to create meaningful interactions your campaign will deliver better results. In fact, sometimes it pays off to tap into the fact that carousel ads do not look native.
On Instagram, these ads look like traditional posts with multiple images but on Facebook, these are distinct from the usual images and video posts. Breaking the monotony can be a good thing too sometimes.
But for this, you should create a seamless design for your carousel. Here are some ideas to explore for Facebook ads in the carousel format:
Each slide in a carousel ad can have a different CTA. So, you can use a single carousel ad as a product catalog that showcases your bestsellers. This lets you promote more than one product in a single ad. Or for those times when you have more than one objective for your campaign!
For example, one of the slides can take customers to a lead capture landing page to gather information from them. Another slide can take them to your website or app for them to get some more details before they move closer to their purchase decision.
In short, you can deliver complete customization through carousel ads. When you give customers a handful of choices in the type of actions they can take from the ad, you connect differently with each type of customer.
The above customization is not just beneficial to the customers. When you have multiple CTAs and when different customers click on a different CTA you can use analytics data to tweak your targeting strategies. This helps you better understand at what stage of their purchase journey your customers are.
For example, customers who readily furnish their details on the landing page indicate interest in your product. So, you can use emails to persuade them. These could be emails that contain special discounts or limited-time offers for them. And for customers who visit your website and take no action after that you can target them by offering value they cannot resist.
In fact, you can then create separate simple single-image ads to target these different groups in your audience.
When you have to quickly grab attention and ensure that customers do not scroll past your ad or intentionally avoid it, single-image ads might feel like an easy choice. To generate new leads and to deliver your message in the shortest span of time, these ads work pretty well. But when the motive is to strengthen brand awareness or to deliver a lot of information in one shot, carousel ads might feel like the best option.
But when you do choose carousel ads, here are a few things to remember.
And if you choose single-image ads, here are a few things to remember.
In short, to up the ante in your social media advertising game, you need a mix of both these ad formats. When you have a story to tell, or an array of products or features to talk about, use carousels. When you want to deliver bite-sized information to allow customers to take action quickly, use single-image Facebook ads.
Furthermore, the purpose of your campaign and the type of audience you target will better determine the decision. Instead of choosing one ad format over the other just because your competitor chooses it, field test it. Start with a small budget split equally for both ad types. And then gauge the effectiveness based on the results both Facebook ad types deliver.
Even after all this, remember that with social media algorithms constantly changing and with customer expectations from ads evolving, you should be ready to change priorities based on real-time performance. Don’t bet too high on one ad format alone and expect it to magically skyrocket conversions. Instead for your Facebook ads to be a hit, be ready to experiment with all the relevant formats.