What Ads on Facebook Perform Better; Photo, Video, or Carousel?

At the heart of any successful advertising campaign is, of course, the ad creative itself. And so the type of ad unit you choose can make or break your Facebook ad campaign.

In this experiment, we are going to put three of the most common Facebook ad formats – image, slideshow video, and carousel – in a head to head test.

Which one will win? Read on to find out.

In our previous $1,000 experiments, we’ve covered the other elements that we can control in a Facebook ad campaign including the audience, the optimization type, and the landing page.

However, it’s the ad creative that Facebook users view and interact with.

Experiment Hypothesis

We wanted to measure cost per lead so that we could monitor which ads drove conversions, as some ad types might be good for engagement but might not get users to actually take action.

We conducted a small poll in our Facebook group for a client and the predictions for the winning ad type (the one with the lowest cost per action) were:

  • 11 votes for Facebook video ad
  • 9 votes for Facebook image ad
  • 3 votes for Facebook carousel ad

So the prediction was for video ads to perform the best.

As well as cost per lead we could also log the number of clicks, the cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), the amount of engagement and the number of video views to build up a wider picture of how the ads performed.

Experiment Setup

⇒ Campaign structure:

One ad per adset (carousel, image or video), so three in total.
Although this could cause some internal competition, the amount should be small given the large audience size and relatively low budget.
The ads were separated into different adsets to ensure they all got the same amount of budget.

⇒ Audience

A 1% lookalike was created based on current 180-day leads.
We targeted  US only, males and females, ages 18+. Current leads and customers were excluded. The audience size available to target was 1.7 million.

⇒ Placement

Facebook mobile newsfeed.

⇒ Budget

$100 a day for 10 days, $1,000 in total.
This was split between the three adsets so $33 per adset per day.

⇒ Bid Strategy

Lowest cost, no cap

⇒ Optimization

We optimized for conversions, tracking the Lead event.

Experiment Results

Each ad type spent $333 and in this case, CPA means the cost per lead:

We also measured the engagement for each ad type:

  • Image: 21 reactions, 1 comment, 5 shares
  • Video: 23 reactions, 1 comment, 9 shares
  • Carousel: 9 reactions, 5 shares

The video ad also got:

  • 885 3-second video plays at a cost of $0.38 per view
  • 234 10-second views at a cost of $1.42 per view

Experiment Conclusions

The image ad was the winner with the lowest cost per lead

Furthermore, it had a cost per click equal to that of video and a level of engagement not far behind video.

Carousel performed poorly with a cost per lead 2.8 times higher than the image ad, plus a high cost per click and a low rate of engagement.

The conclusions we can draw are:

  • The ad type can make a significant difference to your campaign results

So once you have your assets (images, videos, and text) run some experiments to find which format your audience responds best to.
If a campaign isn’t working for you, before starting over with a completely new set of creatives see if you can adapt your current assets.

  • Classic image ads still work really well

There’s a temptation in advertising to chase the latest new thing, and while innovation can be useful to make your brand stand out, images are quick and cheap to produce so you can get good results very quickly.

  • The video ad got a high number of video views

This could be turned into a video view custom audience for remarketing, this can be useful for complex products where more than one ad is required for the prospect to understand the offer.

  • Carousel ads aren’t always the best

Many advertisers are tempted to put as much as possible in the ad, their thinking being that if one image doesn’t engage there’s another 4-6 that might resonate.
However, on Facebook the mantra “less is more” often applies, especially as 94% of Facebook ads are served on mobile devices, and that small screen means you need a clear uncluttered ad to make an immediate impact.

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