There are two main ways to drive traffic to your website: pay for it with dollars (advertising), or pay for it with your time (inbound marketing).

Now, I’ve been an inbound marketer for a long time, and a couple months ago I had to finally admit to myself that it can be frustrating to compete with a good advertiser.

I’d spend a couple days on an awesome article, optimizing it for search as much as I know how and pushing it to influencers and my social network. Our ads guy, however, would spend $40 and drive as much traffic in a day as that article would drive in a month.

So I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about Facebook Ads to be able to combine inbound and outbound marketing into my marketing repertoire.

This complete guide to Facebook Ads is a compilation of everything I learned and you need to know. As of February 15th 2016, it’s up to date.

Note: This article only includes strategies and capabilities which are available to Facebook Advertisers worldwide. You may know that Facebook releases tools before (or sometimes only to their US users. There’s nothing more frustrating than reading about an advertising capability only to find that your ad platform doesn’t have it. So I’m not including them.

I’m also taking a lot of the screenshots you see from Facebook’s Power Editor tool, which is what I use to advertise on Facebook and what I recommend you do as well. If you’re not using Chrome, you won’t be able to access Power Editor, so (in short) you should get Chrome.

Power Editor not only makes it easy to run different ad sets and campaigns at once, there are actually a few things which are only possible with Power Editor. You can access Power Editor via This link.

To download the 2016 Facebook Ads Guide for Free, Click right here.

With that out of the way, let’s get rolling!

Table of Contents:

To skip to the chapter you’re most interested in, click below:

Introducing Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads have been around since the early days of the platform. Originally called “flyers,” they started out as sidebar notices by companies and organizations who wanted to target specific universities (back when Facebook was “TheFacebook” and Mark Zuckerberg was just a curly-haired nerd from Harvard).

Now, of course, things are a little different.

The Facebook Ad platform accounts for 10% of the digital advertising market (Google’s still about 30%). In 2015, Facebook Ads brought in more than $5 billion of the company’s $17.93 billion annual revenue (80% of which was from mobile).

It makes sense, given that their ad audience is (according to January numbers) 1.59 billion active users.

But what does that mean for you?

It means that, as an online marketer, since about 2010 you’ve had access to an advertising platform that wasn’t Google Adwords. It means that you have access to an audience of more than one and a half billion people who visit the site, on average, more than 20 minutes per day.

Not just that, it means you have access to a platform which costs less per click than any other advertising platform (including radio, TV, newspaper, Google and everything else). It means you also have access to a platform which allows you to target the people who see your ads more specifically than you can possibly image (more on that in section 5 and 6).

And now, of course, Facebook Ads have teamed up with Instagram to deliver your campaigns to even more people, and on a platform far more focused on images and products.

Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads:

I won’t get into this overmuch, as this guide is large enough without getting into Instagram as well.

Also, to all intents and purposes, Instagram is simply an extension of the Facebook Ad platform.

The targeting and design overlaps entirely and not just because Instagram is owned by Facebook. Many users actually connect their two profiles together (allowing them to show Instagram posts on Facebook), which enables Facebook to very simply cross-promote your ad campaign.

What’s cool, of course, is that you’re increasing the reach of your campaigns (always good).

Facebook Ads

Campaign vs Ad Set vs Ad

So this is a bit confusing, particularly when you’re first setting up your Facebook Ad in Power Editor. The screen looks like this, and you might not be sure what’s what and who goes where…

Facebook Ads

Here’s how Facebook explains it, in a pretty little diagram:

Facebook Ads

So, in short, ads (design focused) are housed in ad sets (targeting focused) which are housed in campaigns (objective focused).

Make sense?

We’re Just Getting Started!

So let’s break it down…

  • Facebook users are on the platform constantly (around to 20 minutes a day).
  • Facebook Ads deliver unparalleled ability to target specific audiences.
  • Facebook Ads cost at most about 20% as much as Google Ads per click.
  • Facebook’s Ad platform grew 40% in Q3 of 2015, while Google’s fell 19%.
  • With targeting options like website custom audience and conversion tracking, the platform can be made as simple or as advanced as you like.
  • The platform is constantly updating (unlike Google Adwords), meaning it’s getting more powerful every day.
  • Instagram is estimated to grow approximately 49% in 2016, resulting in even more potential impressions for Facebook advertisers.

Think Facebook Ads might be worth looking into?

This 10-chapter guide is a comprehensive walkthrough of everything you need to know about Facebook Ads, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

To skip to the chapter you’re most interested in, click below:

Head on to Chapter 2:
Facebook Ad Cost Structure