Facebook Ads Crash Course Guide

If you’ve never run Facebook ads before, perhaps have tinkered a few times with the blue Boost button, or maybe even attempted building a couple ads inside Ads Manager with little to no success, this Facebook Ads Crash Course guide is for you. While Facebook advertising is a HUGE, in-depth topic that takes several months and running a lot of ad campaigns to really get a handle on, I also know that there are plenty of small business owners and independent professionals out there who are searching for the basics of running a Facebook ads campaign on their own. You might have questions like…where do you go to get started with Facebook ads? What does Facebook Ads Manager look like? How do you choose a campaign type? What are the ways to target my ideal customer with Facebook ads? This blog post will walk you through the Ads Manager interface, from start to finish, in order to provide you with that Facebook Ads Crash Course guide you are seeking.

Facebook Ads Crash Course Guide

Facebook Ads Crash Course Guide

In addition to this Ads Manager walkthrough below, I wanted to provide additional blog posts that will help you better understand some of the most important parts of Facebook ad creation process.

Now let’s take a walk through the Facebook Ads Manager interface and the steps you need to complete to create a Facebook ads campaign.

Facebook Ads Manager 101

When you start building your Facebook ad, you’ll be at this link: https://www.facebook.com/adsmanager/ You can also access this by clicking on the Ads Manager tab on the left sidebar when viewing Facebook.com on your desktop.

Note: If you haven’t already set up your Facebook ads account and/or a Facebook Business Page, start with this post. It will help you to have all your essential Facebook ad elements in order before attempting your first ad campaign.

You are now in your Ads Manager dashboard. If you’ve never run an ad before, your screen will be pretty empty, like this.

Brand new Facebook Ads Manager

Though after you’ve run even 1 ad, you’ll see it listed in this view. This dashboard view is also where you can access ad performance data.

Click on the green + Create button to get started building your first Facebook ad.

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Choosing a Campaign Objective

Once you click to create your first ad, you’ll be shown a pop-up that asks you to choose your Campaign Objective (also called Marketing Objective). When you hover over any of the choices, a circle with an i will show over to the right. Click on the circle with the i for more explanation about that type of Campaign Objective. The key here is selecting the campaign objective that matches the ideal action you want someone to take with the ad (e.g. If you want to send traffic to a page or blog post on your website, choose Traffic. If you want people to watch your video, choose Video Views.).

Note: For more help understanding the available Campaign Objectives and how to select the correct one for your ad campaign, refer to this post.

Choose Facebook Ad Campaign Objective

After choosing your Campaign Objective, Facebook will give you the option to name your Campaign, Ad Set, and Ad. No one will see any of these names except for you so name them in a way that allows you to quickly identify the campaign.

et Facebook ad campaign name

Now you’re ready to start building your first Facebook ad!

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Special Ads Categories 

At the top part of this screen is the drop-down menu to select a Special Ads Category if that applies to your ad campaign. Special Ads Categories include: Housing, Credit, Employment, and Social Issues/Politics/Elections. Click to read more about Special Ads Categories.

Facebook ads special ad category selection

At the bottom of this same page, make sure the Campaign Budget Optimization toggle button is off.

Turn off Campaign Budget Optimization

Then click the blue Next button located in the bottom right hand corner.

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Audience Definition

The next page that you land on is where much of the ad details are set up. To start, I chose a Traffic campaign objective. That’s why you see Traffic in larger, bold font near the top. By default, the Website radio button is selected. Since the destination for my Facebook ad traffic is my website, that is correct.

On the right side, you’ll see the Audience Definition section. As you adjust targeting options like age, gender, location, and add or remove interests and behaviors – as well as adjust your budget – the numbers shown here will change. This can help you gauge if your audience is too broad or too specific as well as what kind of results you might expect.

Facebook ad audience definition

Keep Dynamic Creative and Offer toggle switches in the Off position.

When setting your ad budget, you can choose between a Daily budget and a Lifetime budget, and adjust what you’d like to spend. In this same area, you can set a starting and ending date and time for your Facebook ad.

Facebook ad budget and schedule

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Audience

In the Audience section of Ads Manager, you can choose previously saved audiences, or one or more custom audiences. Read more here about the Facebook pixel, custom audiences, customer email audiences, and video views audiences.

If you want to build an audience from scratch, you can click to edit each bold subsection (Location, Age, Gender, Detailed Targeting, and Language).

There are countless ways to target your ad. We have a blog post dedicated to Facebook ad audience targeting options you can refer to.

Facebook ad audience targeting

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Placements and Optimization & Delivery

Placements are all the spots on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and even places off of Facebook, where Facebook could show your ad. By default, Facebook has “All Placements (Recommended)” marked. All Placements are not recommended, however. The reason why All Placements are not recommended is because each placement has its own image size requirements and ad copy/text area. So, if you are using, for example, a square image, that isn’t going to be a great fit for Stories ads. If you are doing a Messenger ad, you need to setup a custom Messenger sequence or set questions for the ad. Additionally, Facebook does not spend your ad budget equally across all placements. Even if you opted just for two placements like Facebook Feed and Instagram Feed, you’ll likely find that the majority of the budget is spent on one of those two placements.

Facebook ad placements, optimization & delivery

Click on Manual Placements to see all possible placements and make adjustments.

select manual placements for Facebook ads

Click on any of the right-facing arrows to reveal the sub-menu of each.

Deselect placements you don't want your Facebook ad to show

De-select any placements you don’t want to use. For Facebook ads, I recommend Facebook News Feed. And if a video ad, I choose the News Feed as well as the Video Feed.

Beneath the Placement area is the Optimization & Delivery area. Often, the default setting here will be what you need to go with. However, if you are running a Traffic ad and have your Facebook pixel on your site, it’s better to switch from Link Clicks to Landing Page views. The difference: Link Clicks are simply clicks on Traffic ads whereas the Landing Page view optimization is designed to find people in your audience you not only click links but also allow the website page to load…thereby “landing” on and “viewing” your website page or blog post.

Facebook ad optimization and delivery

Once you have everything set on this page, click on the blue Next button to move to the final page of the Facebook ad creation process.

Facebook Ads Crash Course: Creative

Now you’re ready to upload the photo or video you plan to use, type your ad copy, and include a destination link for those people who click on an ad (assuming it’s a Traffic or Conversion ad campaign). As you start adding information into the required fields, you’ll see your ad preview on the right hand side.

Create new Facebook ad or choose existing post

It is also possible to use an existing post that’s already been published on your Facebook Page for your ad.

In the Ad Creative area, click to Add Media and upload a photo or video, or select from a photo or video previously uploaded to your Facebook Page or ads account.

Add media to your Facebook ad

select image for Facebook ad

Crop your image as needed.

The primary text shows above your photo or video, and the headline shows in bold font beneath your photo or video, and directly to the left of your call to action button.

Add text and headline to your Facebook ad

Copy and paste the URL you’ll be sending your ad traffic to in the Website URL field. Once you do, the red warning/error message will go away.

Select the best Call to Action button message from the list provided. At this time, you cannot customize what your button says.

set call to action button message for your Facebook ad

Once your ad looks how you want it to, click on the green Publish button. It can take up to 24 hours for Facebook to approve your ad campaign, and another 24 hours for it to begin getting Reach. It usually goes a lot faster, though.

After your first ad is approved and begins gaining Reach, you’ll start seeing data being reported in your Facebook ads dashboard, which is the screen you land on when you first visit your Ads Manager.

Once your first Facebook campaign is complete, refer to our blog post about Facebook Ad Performance to understand all the possible data you can review.

At this time, you’ve completed your Facebook Ads Crash Course! There are so many elements and things to know about Facebook ad campaigns, but hopefully this guide helps you move along each step of the process enough so you’re able to execute your first successful Facebook ad campaign on your own.



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