Getting Creative on Facebook: Direct Response Best Practices

Yellow tulips and one red standing out of the crowd.

For marketers on Facebook, standing out has never been more difficult than it is today. Along with audience targeting, a well thought out creative approach is the key success with Facebook advertising. Social departments everywhere are spending hours analyzing content strategy and determining how best to grab the attention of their audience. Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have put an even greater emphasis on high quality content.

As an advertiser, it’s paramount to align the creative you’re choosing with the goals you’re trying to achieve. While photo and video posts are widely considered to be the best post types for generating engagement, there isn’t as much information on creative best practices for driving offsite traffic. Here we’ll look at an overview of not just imagery and copy, but also which ad types and placements should be used to obtain your desired goals.

Step 1: Ad Units & Placements

For advertisers thinking about creative on Facebook, the first thing to consider is ad placement. Although Facebook does allow premium advertising on the Login page, the vast majority of advertising is on Desktop Newsfeed, Mobile Newsfeed, or Desktop Right Hand Column (RHC). When deciding which placement works best for you, think about what you’re trying to achieve. The RHC has significantly lower clickthrough rates (CTR’s) than either mobile or desktop newsfeed, however CPM’s are also much cheaper. For offsite actions the cost benefits can sometimes outweigh the low number of people clicking. I’d recommend testing both options to see what works best for you.

When considering desktop vs. mobile also think about the layout of your website. If you’re driving users to a site that isn’t optimized for mobile browser use, these users are more likely to have a bad experience and bounce. As with RHC vs. Newsfeed, there are no universal truths for what placement delivers the best results. Test out all 3 if your site is mobile optimized and see what works for you.

Step 2: Post Types

Within ad units there are a variety of different post types to choose from. For newsfeed page posts, the primary options are: Photo, Video, Status, and Link. For driving offsite traffic & conversions Link Page Posts are the clear winner. Whereas for photo and video posts the primary click targets keep you within Facebook, Link Posts consist of a large image (1200 x 627) where any click on the image links offsite. Facebook considers a click to be anywhere on the ad unit. A link click however is a click that leads offsite. Using Link Page Posts the ratio of link clicks to actual clicks is far greater than any other ad unit. Facebook even recommends using Link Posts for driving offsite traffic. Unlike placement, there is an obvious choice here.

Step 3: Images

To be successful marketing on Facebook, you need to stand out from the crowd. The space is getting consistently more competitive, and advertisers now more than ever have to generate compelling and relevant creative in order to get noticed. Imagery is the most important factor causing an ad to catch the eye of a user. However your images should be more than an attention grabber. They should immediately encourage users to take your desired action. If your goal is offsite traffic, your image choices in ad creative should reflect that. An E-Commerce company should put heavy focus on the products they’re selling, as these tend to drive more conversions than lifestyle-based creative.

Step 4: Copy & CTAs

While the image is usually the primary factor in initially catching the eye of a Facebook user, copy and calls to action help drive those users to convert. Calling out products, brands, and any sales and discounts is known to increase conversion rates and drive efficient offsite traffic. Facebook Link Post ad units also have Call To Action (CTA) buttons that allow advertisers to clearly display to users the action they should be taking. Released early this year, these CTA buttons have had a profound impact on results for direct response advertisers, and are something marketers should definitely take advantage of. (Disclosure: The linked study was undertaken by my current employer, AdParlor.)

Setting User Expectations

To maximize conversion rates, ensure as an advertiser your creative matches the experience you’re driving users to. If you promote in your creative a new pair of shoes, and the user lands on a homepage filled with all different types of products, that user is much more likely to bounce. After all they clicked on the shoes for a reason, and it probably wasn’t because they want to browse your entire site.

Driving users to a product specific landing page delivers significantly higher conversion rates than generic landing pages. This means more efficient conversions and better ROI for your campaigns.


After audience targeting, creative strategy is the most important factor in determining success with Facebook advertising. For direct response advertisers, it’s imperative to align your creative with the goals you’re trying to achieve. Build creative with the focus on generating traffic rather than engagement.

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Authored by:

Paul Van Winssen

Paul Van Winssen is an Ad Operations Team Lead at AdParlor. He specializes in performance advertising on Facebook & Twitter. AdParlor is a Facebook strategic partner (sPMD) and a Twitter Ads API Partner.




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