The most important element of a Facebook Ad

There’s a disproportionate amount of focus on copywriting, in the Facebook ad creation space. Everyone talks about the Headline, the copy or even the offer. 

But you’ve heard it here first…the most important element of a Facebook ad is the ad creative, i.e. the image or video.

Don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at the newsfeed instead: 

screenshots of facebook posts, illustrating the most important element of a Facebook Ad

Which element has the biggest real estate? 

Yes, the image. (or the video, carousel, you get the picture)

In fact, if you have a video, your target audience can jump straight into full screen mode with just a single click or tap!

How do people skim newsfeed content?

This is what a Facebook user sees when they stop to take a look at a post on their newsfeed:

how users really see a facebook post
  1. The image or video (aka ‘creative’)
  2. Headline – they’ll glance at the headline to get an idea of what the ad is about. And if its something of interest, they’ll read…
  3. Your ad text which hopefully delivers what they’re expecting to learn or get. Once they are convinced to proceed with your call to action, they’ll either click on the ad image or glance down to…
  4. Your call to action button. Celebrate if they click and move along your funnel.

Role of your ad creative

Well, you’ve seen the amount of space it takes up above. 

The ad creative plays two key roles: 

  1. Captures Attention
  2. Filters your audience

1 – Capturing Attention

Facebook’s main offering is its vertical newsfeed that users can scroll (almost) infinitely. Users have developed the habit of scrolling through this newsfeed quickly by skimming through the content. 

Having an image or a video which can stop their thumb and capture their attention, gives you an opportunity to ‘talk’ to them. 

2 – Filters your audience

Ideally, your ad should speak specifically to your target audience and ignored by the rest. I tend to include the target audience in the image or creative.

Do note that Facebook’s ad policy doesn’t allow you to call out on personal attributes like name, age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. 

This simply means you are not to directly imply that they have certain attributes. For example, you should avoid saying “Pet owners like you”. But, you can filter your target audience by writing something like “Pet owners love this shampoo”.

Non pet owners will naturally skip the ad while pet owners who’re looking for a shampoo for their furry friends would want to find out more.

What makes a good Facebook ad creative

When designing an image for Facebook, I try to incorporate the following. These work for videos as well because your thumbnail should contain similar elements.

i) A surprising subject

Its sole purpose is to be the thumb stopper.

The subject should require just a quick glance to capture the attention of your target audience. What I’ve discovered is that the ‘subject’ may not need to be directly related to the topic of your ad. 

For example,

slack fb ad example

A floating lady on a horse doesn’t have anything to do with a communication platform, until you read the text next to it. 

Other examples of a “surprising subject” include an emotional person, bright colors, a random object that can be tied back to your topic, etc.

ii) An in-image headline

You do get to place a headline in your ad, however compared to the image it is way smaller and less conspicuous. Hence, I prefer to have a short punchy headline within the image when possible. 

This headline should let your audience know who the ad is for, and what they’ll get if they were to read or engage with it. 

For example: 


The ad image is the most important element in a Facebook ad (and post). Design it wisely to draw your target audience in. 

The more engagement you can get on your ad, the more likely Facebook is to show your ad to a wider crowd giving you more reach. 

So while you search for advanced Facebook ad strategies or bidding secrets, try improving your image or creative instead. Oftentimes, these provide a greater lift than changing your budget or testing new bid strategies.

Understand what your target audience wants and draw them to your product or services by helping them!

Got questions? Leave them in the comments below.

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