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Facebook Ad Sets: The Changing Structure of Facebook Ads

Published: April 2, 2014

Author: James Scherer

Have you noticed a change in the structure of your Facebook Ad Builder?
Facebook rolled out this change on March 4th, but it may not be available to all advertisers yet. If you’re not seeing it, keep an eye out!
This article will give you a breakdown of how the new Facebook Ads structure looks and works, as well as tell you what it means for advertisers like you. I’ll also give you my own thoughts and impressions.

A Little Background

With Facebook’s implementation of the objective-centered ad builder, they were already halfway to the change of structure this article discusses. Objectives reframed how we saw Facebook Ads: changing how Facebook optimized our ads for us, as well as changing how we thought of our ads themselves.
Previously, your ads were run under a single campaign. Campaigns determined how long your ad was run and how much you paid for it on a daily basis – as well as the overall lifetime cost.
Individual ads were defined as their creative, placement, targeting and individual bidding (how much you were willing to pay to win the Facebook ad auction).
With the objective roll-out a few months ago, Facebook added another element to their ads – goal.

The Change

Facebook has added a new tier to their ad structure: Ad Sets.
Here’s what the difference looks like:
old v new structure

The New Definitions:
Campaigns: Campaigns will now be defined by your objective. “Each campaign you create […] will consist of one or more ad sets. This will help you optimize and measure your results for each advertising objective.”

-In short, if you are only on Facebook to generate clicks to your website, you will only ever need one campaign – and all ad sets and individual ads will come under that umbrella.

Ad Sets: The new tier, ad sets “will have one or more ads and [….] You can create an ad set for each of your audience segments by making the ads within the ad set target the same audience.”

-This will help you control the amount you spend on each audience, decide when each audience will see your ads, and see metrics specific to each audience, allowing you to compare Facebook Ad performance based on audience.

Individual Ads: Ads themselves remain the same, made up of your chosen creative and targeted audience, as well as setting your individual bidding

-You’ll still be targeting your ads at the third tier, or ad level, but you’ll organize these ads into an ad set that shares a targeted audience (more on that below). The ads themselves will remain the same, made up of the design and targeted audience.

For a quick glossary of Facebook Ad terminology, check out this Dictionary of Facebook Ad Terms.
New Definitions

How does this affect Facebook Advertisers?

It makes the whole process much neater, as you can now optimize your ads easily by targeted audience without having to create a million different campaigns.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I was advertising on Facebook to promote an Ebook on A/B Split Testing Landing Pages. Before Facebook’s update, I would create different campaigns targeting all the different audiences I wanted to see my ad. These might include…

-My Facebook Fans
-My Custom Audience
-A Lookalike Audience
-Users who’d expressed Interest in A/B Testing or Landing Page Optimization
-Users who worked for Landing Page SaaS companies

Now, however, I can create a single campaign for my Ebook Facebook Ad (with the objective of ‘clicks to website’), and ad sets for each different audience.

Why I think they need to add another tier:

Let’s say one of my goals for the next few months on Facebook was to grow my Page’s Facebook Likes. I would create an ad campaign focused on this goal.
Under this campaign, I would create several different ad sets – each a different approach to achieving my goal of Facebook Page Likes. These approaches could be Facebook Contests, Promoted Posts, or any other strategy I’ve found successful in the past (or want to try out in the future).
Under these Ad Sets, I would create individual ads, each targeted at a different audience…
But isn’t that what Ad Sets are for? It feels like I need just one more tier between Ad Sets and ads themselves.
I have multiple approaches for achieving my objective (Page Likes), and each approach needs to be targeted at different target audiences. For instance, I may want to target my contest at both a Custom Audience and a Lookalike audience.
All good, but what if I want to test my ad creative based on those target audiences (to see which design people respond to most)? I’m out of tiers.
Here’s what I’d like to see:
What do you think?


Are you seeing the new ad format yet? Facebook announced it was rolling it out over the course of March, so if you’re not seeing it yet you should be soon.
If you are seeing it, what were your impressions? Is there much of a difference? How do you think it will affect your own Facebook Ad strategy?
Do you think adding a fourth tier to the ad structure would help you with A/B testing your Facebook Ads?

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