As Social Ads Strategists, we often get asked what the difference between a campaign, ad set or an ad is. We use these terms every day without realizing that outside of Facebook’s Ads Manager, they could be used interchangeably, and that creates confusion in the minds of other stakeholders we work with.

Facebook’s naming conventions, like Page Admin vs Page Owner, Business Page vs Business Manager, can get tricky fast. So what does it mean when we say that a campaign that is about to go live has three different ad sets with three ads, but only one creative, or there is one ad set and five different creatives?

Every Facebook campaign we create consists of 3 parts: a campaign, ad set and an ad. All these parts are necessary for your ads to run the way you want them to, and reach the right people.

We always start by choosing an objective for the campaign, some sort of an end goal for your ads. It could be brand awareness, traffic to your website, app downloads, page likes, etc. At the ad set level, we define your targeting strategy by setting up parameters like demographics and interest targeting, budget and schedule. Lastly, at the ad level, we create visuals, like captions, photos and videos.

To reiterate:

  • Campaign: A campaign contains one or more ad sets and ads. We can only choose one advertising objective per campaign.
  • Ad set: Ad sets contain one or more ads. We define the targeting, budget, schedule, bidding and placement at the ad set level.
  • Ad: The creative we use makes up an ad. There could be multiple creatives.

I believe that the best way to learn something is by learning by example. Hence, let’s look closely at the following hypothetical campaign:

As you can see, the objective of the campaign is to drive traffic to the website. Our success will be measured by how many people click on the call-to-action button and land on the landing page. We have four different audiences to serve ads to: the Primary Audience, the Retargeting Audience, the Lookalike Audience, and the Customer Email List.

  • Primary Audience is based on users’ demographics, location, behaviours, and interests.
  • Retargeting Audience is based on users who have visited a website, engaged with a business on Facebook or Instagram (liked posts, commented, shared, messaged), watched a video, checked-in in store, attended an event, and so on.
  • Lookalike Audience is based on users who are 99% similar to our existing best customers. Think of it as a doppelganger audience.
  • Customer List is provided by the client. It could be a list of their existing customers.

Please note that there could be fewer or more ad sets; each campaign is unique. For example, if the client has never advertised on Facebook before, we will need to install the Facebook pixel on their website first and let it collect data about website visitors before creating a Retargeting Audience. On the other hand, if the client has multiple lists with their customers’ information, we can upload different lists and serve targeted ads like special promotions to a specific group of people. Another example is realtors; they can have multiple Primary Audiences like first-time home buyers, investors, downsizers, people who recently moved, etc. Because all these groups of people have different interests and age groups, we will create separate Primary Audiences to target each group.

Lastly, you can see that despite having 6 ads, there are only 3 creatives used A, B and C. Each creative usually has a unique messaging to it; therefore, creatives A and B are served to the Primary Audience and the Lookalike Audience. The idea is that people in these two audiences haven’t interacted with the business before; therefore, the messaging can be tested. Creatives A and B will be competing for the same audiences, and we will be able to see which one of them is favoured by users. Facebook’s algorithms pick the best ad to show to the best audience while also creating a good user experience. Once we identify which creative is outperforming the other one, we can duplicate it and show it to the Retargeting Audience (in this chart it is Creative B). Creative C in the chart above is an entirely different ad that is only served to users who are already existing customers. This creative can promote a unique discount code or private event.

In conclusion, Facebook advertising is a fascinating tool when it is set up correctly. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you feel more familiar with Facebook’s campaign structures. If not, GMD’s team of Social Ads Strategists, including myself, are always happy to assist you with setting up and managing your campaigns for you. Click here to get in touch.