22 Creative Facebook Ad Design Tactics to A/B Test

22 Creative Facebook Ad Design Tactics to A/B Test

You only have 50 milliseconds to make a lasting first impression.

To put this in perspective, it takes about 50 milliseconds to read the phrase “50 milliseconds” out loud–and yes, I timed it.

In the golden age of digital media, where 81 percent of people only skim the content they read online, there’s one way to create attention-grabbing Facebook ads:

Use creative visuals, including videos, infographics, memes, and original, high-quality professional photos. 

This week, I used the Ladder Planner to create this skimmable list of 22 Facebook Ad Design tactics to test in your paid ads for higher click-through rates and conversions

Note that for some of these tactics, you’ll probably want the help of a skilled graphic designer. If you don’t have an in-house designer, consider hiring one using a freelancing service like Fiverr. Or, better yet, contact the Ladder team for help with optimizing your Facebook ads with copywriting, graphic design, and targeting.

If I still have your attention, let’s jump right in!


Product Shot Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

High-quality photography or screenshots in an ad for your product can be an effective way to drive sales. Showing the product up close and in high detail in advertising helps interested consumers to properly visualize the product and how it might look in their use. Often, this visual cue is what’s needed to garner interest in a product and land a sale.

Success Rate:
63%
Marketing:
1h
Product Shot Ad

Lifestyle Image Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Try selling the image of the lifestyle your product promotes rather than just the product itself. Using product lifestyle imagery shows an audience the type of life they can lead by buying the product. Help your audience better imagine what the product would be like in their hands and in their lives, helping them relate to the product and want to buy it.

Success Rate:

65%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

2h

Lifestyle Image Ad

Image Pattern Background Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

An appealing pattern in the background of an image can attract attention. The pattern you use can evoke a different emotion, such as playfulness or seriousness. Decide which pattern to use based on the audience you’re targeting and the product you’re trying to sell. Coordinate the tone of your copy with the pattern you choose for a more impactful ad.

Success Rate:

78%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

1h

Image Pattern Background Ad

Image Bold Background Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

An appealing bold color in the background of an image can attract attention to your ad. If the image stands out from the rest of the page of a social network or site where the ad is served, it has a chance to draw eyes directly to it and your ad will be more likely to be seen. This can improve ad performance and help you better reach your audience.

Success Rate:

54%

Design:

1h

Image Bold Background Ad

Person Image Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

The image you use in your ads can make a big difference between a successful campaign and a complete lack of interest. Using a photo of a smiling person in your ad can give off the impression of a happy customer and is an eye-catching way to drive engagement with your ad. That’s because psychologically, a smiling face looks friendly and attractive and implies trustworthiness.

Success Rate:

42%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

1h

Person Image Ad

Casual Photo Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

A casual photo – one that shows your product in action or in a natural setting without too much editing and staging – can be highly effective at increasing ad performance. This is because people seeing the ad get a view of your product in real-life, real-time use. You help them more effectively visualize what it will look like in their possession.

Success Rate:

11%

Marketing:

2h

Design:

1h

Casual Photo Ad

Infographic Image Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Using an infographic in the image of your ad can drive performance. It’s a descriptive and visual way to depict what results your audience can expect when they buy your product. Design a small, concise infographic for your ad and use it instead of your other images to see how it impacts your ad performance.

Success Rate:

6%

Marketing:

3h

Design:

5h

Infographic Image Ad

Professional-Quality Images

This tactic requires a media budget

Elevate your content by incorporating professional quality images. Nothing screams laziness like a pixelated image. Don’t let good content go to waste by skimping out on visuals. (Note: not only do pro images look better, they also receive twice as many shares.)

Success Rate:

19%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Design:

2h

Pro Quality Images

Funny/Meme Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Funny images and/or copy can be more eye-catching, plus they can feel more down-to-earth and less like an ad. Humor invokes a feeling, which is the goal of most advertising.

Success Rate:

18%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

1h

Funny/Meme Ad

Gazing Social Proof

This tactic requires a media budget

Try putting an image or photo of a person looking at the call to action on your site. It’s a nice psychological trick to improve trust and draw attention to the CTA. It directs an arrow of vision directly at the part of your site you want a visitor to see.

Success Rate:

10%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

1h

Social Proof Imagery in Facebook Ads
Photo Credit: Sumo

Carousel Story Ads

This tactic requires a media budget

You can use Facebook’s carousel ads to tell a brief story about your product’s benefits. Each ad can be an image rather than a product, with text in the image telling bits of the story you want to tell. i.e. – Card 1: “We built the ultimate secure group messaging app.” Card 2: “You + your friends, all in one place.” Card 3: “Best in class end-to-end encryption.” Each card can contain a “Sign Up” CTA to drive clicks.

Success Rate:

24%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Carousel Story Ads

Facebook Canvas Ads

This tactic requires a media budget

Facebook Canvas ads allow for a more immersive, media-rich experience in comparison to static advertisements. A major advantage of these ads is that they are opened inside Facebook as opposed to a mobile webpage creating a seamless experience with no load times. Functionality is also robust allowing for animations, product galleries, videos, and tilt-to-view images.

Success Rate:

4%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Design:

2h

Facebook Canvas Ads

Video Ads For App Installs

This tactic requires a media budget

The cost per install of video ads is significantly lower than that of static ads. Create a video ad for your app and promote it on social media and in other apps. Video ads are highly effective, as they grab attention, showcase your product features, and make a direct case for your app’s value while being generally unskippable.

Success Rate:

18%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Design:

3h

Video Ads For App Installs

Video Testimonial Ads

This tactic requires a media budget

Adding a video testimonial can make your ad look more professional and make it more engaging, increasing conversion rate. The content of the video is very important – take care not to make the testimonial look too staged or scripted. It should be as natural and honest as possible–even if that means the customer isn’t being 100% deferential to your product.

Success Rate:

7%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

5h

Design:

4h

Video Testimonials

Animation Video Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

A 2015 Animoto study found that 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it. Therefore, produce an animated video ad to communicate the benefits of using your products, simplify the problem your company is solving, and to show off your brand’s unique style and personality.

Success Rate:

15%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

3h

Design:

100h

Development:

500h

Animation Video Ad
Photo Credit: snowballvfx.com

Image Overlay Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Showing an image overlaid with brand name and a translucent layer can increase social media ad campaign performance. Try ad creative where your brand logo and a translucent layer are overlaid on top of an image of your choice, whether a photo of a smiling individual or an image of your product. A semi-transparent dark layer will provide a strong contrast between the image and your logo and ad copy, making it stand out on social networks.

Success Rate:

62%

Design:

1h

Image Overlay Ad

Facebook’s 20% Text Rule

This tactic requires a media budget

Facebook advertisers are encouraged to abide by Facebook’s “20% Rule”, which says that if the proportion of text to image is too high, your ads may not reach its full audience. Use Facebook’s Text Overlay tool to determine if your images meet Facebook’s standards. There are, however, some notable exceptions, like book covers, product images, games, and event posters.

Success Rate:

15%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

3h

Design:

100h

Development:

500h

Facebook 20% Text Rule
Photo Credit: recheiodigital.com

Store Shot Image Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Using photos of your physical location in your ads can establish credibility and position your brand effectively. Try storefront shots or interior shots with happy customers to increase your chances of success with this tactic.

Success Rate:

17%

Difficulty:

Beginner

Marketing:

2h

Design:

2h

Store Shot Image Ad

Tilted Product Shot Image

This tactic requires a media budget

Showing a product tilted in the background of the image is a great way to acquaint the user with the product. This type of shot is common practice in magazines and aggregation websites that sell products, so users are well acquainted with this type of view.

Success Rate:

6%

Design:

1h

Tilted Product Shot Image

Android Vs. iPhone Phone Screen Images

This tactic requires a media budget

An effective tactic, especially for mobile app developers, is displaying your product or app on both an Android and Apple device, including smartphones, smart watches, and tablets. This will allow potential users a quick glimpse at how your app’s UI/UX looks on various mobile devices.

Success Rate:

22%

Difficulty:

Beginner

Marketing:

2h

Design:

2h

Android Vs. Iphone Phone Screen Images
Photo Credit: BetaNews

Male Vs. Female Promo Image

This tactic requires a media budget

Using demographic information about your customer, you can effectively target your ads to appeal to men or women. While this tactic can help your product more appealing to your target audience, advertisers have missed the mark by reinforcing stereotypical gender roles, body images, and sexuality. Before creating your ad, use focus groups or audience surveys to get a better sense of what your audience likes and dislikes.

Success Rate:

18%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Design:

2h

Male Vs. Female Promo Image
Photo Credit: AdWomen

Vector Graphics Ad

This tactic requires a media budget

Stock images are played out (sorry Shutterstock). Run creative tests on some custom, branded iconography and graphics in your Facebook advertising to improve engagement.

Success Rate:

36%

Marketing:

1h

Design:

2h

Vector Graphics Ad

That’s all for now! Want to learn additional ways to optimize your Facebook Ads? Read 5 Cheap and Effective Ways to Run Facebook Ads A/B Tests.