When Facebook first launched their ad platform, they had one, and only one, ad type to offer: Marketplace (sidebar) ads. In the last few months and years, Facebook has radically expanded their ad offerings. Now you can choose from a whole gamut of different advertising options, each with different strengths.
What are these new options?
Paid Post Ads
When you make a post on your Facebook page, by default only a small portion of your audience actually sees it. The exact number of people who see your ad is determined by EdgeRank, Facebook’s “quality assurance” system. The more engaging Facebook thinks your page is, the higher your EdgeRank and the more exposure you get for free.
By paying, you get to circumvent that whole system. You can basically pay to have your page post show up for more of your followers.
Sponsored stories allows you to showcase someone else’s news feed story. Facebook treats any action as a “story.” When someone likes, comments or shares something that you posted, they simultaneously create a story which is posted to their wall.
When you sponsor their story, you take the story from their wall and turn it into an advertisement. People in their network will see the ad with “_____ Liked This Post” underneath it. Sponsored stories are a much more interactive version of Facebook ads that usually get much higher click through rates.
Facebook isn’t the only provider of ad services on Facebook. Game developers often place their own ads inside their apps. These ads aren’t sold by Facebook, but by the developers themselves. These ads are usually placed on third party self-serve advertising platforms.
There are literally dozens of ad marketplaces to choose from. This list is a good place to start. Different marketplaces cater to different audiences and thus have different kinds of traffic. For example, one marketplace might be great for games, while another might be great for photo apps.
Facebook has finally added retargeting to their arsenal. Now, you can show ads to people who’ve landed on your site before. These people are much more likely to click on an ad and much more likely to convert, since they already trust you.
Upcoming: Video Ads
Facebook has been experimenting with video ads and will likely open it up to all advertisers in the near future. Most users have seen some version of video ads already; and a handful of advertisers have already been given the option to use video.
These are some of the biggest changes in the Facebook advertising platform in recent years. Of course, standard marketplace ads are still the #1 volume ad category on Facebook. That said, your ROI could be much higher in many of these more targeted types of placements.