How to Set Up and Run Meta Commercial Ads in 2024 - A Step-by-Step Guide

Our quick guide will help you navigate Meta Ads setup and management with ease! Learn to define campaign objectives, target audiences, and more. Plus bonus tips on A/B testing and analyzing metrics!

Meta ads logo

Facebook is now called Meta, but it still has the most users and the biggest advertising opportunity.

In 2023, Meta (formerly Facebook) has seven billion active users across its main properties: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook continues to be the top social media network with approximately three billion active users vs. TikTok with only 1 billion.

As a creative video production company, we believe that Facebook and Instagram are still the best social networks to reach your customers and grow your audience at scale.

Whether you’re a newcomer to social media advertising or seeking to increase your knowledge in the field, our article will serve as a comprehensive guide for creating your digital advertising strategy. 

We also picked the brain of Nina Dans, Director of Paid Social at Socium Media, a performance digital marketing agency and an official Meta Business Partner. She offers her own up-to-date tips for setting up your Meta commercial ads campaign, while emphasizing that it’s easy to lose money if you do things wrong. Dans insists, "Meta should absolutely be one of the major digital platforms for brands to focus their ad dollars. With a plethora of active potential customers to target, Meta has proven time and again to successfully scale business."

NOTE: We say “Meta Ads Manager,” but if you ever hear “Facebook Ads Manager” or “Instagram Ads”, then this refers to the same thing because you set up Facebook and Instagram ads through the Meta Ads Manager.

A man in front of a computer laughing as money comes out.
Digital marketing can supercharge your business growth, but it's also risky if you do it wrong.

We’ve broken it down into three main sections:

  1. How to set up a Meta ads campaign from scratch.
  2. Insights into targeting, audiences, placements, and creative implementation.
  3. Format specifications for image and video ads.

How to Set Up an Ad Campaign for Facebook and Instagram:

Ready to learn how you can craft the best Meta commercial ads for your next campaign? The following are the steps to get started:

Step 1: Create a Meta Ads Account

Just create a Facebook / Meta account! 

An individual ad account ID is automatically assigned. This ID can be located on the Ads Manager dashboard at the top left corner. Click here to view the Meta Ads Manager.

Meta Ads manager, showing account selection dropdown.

Before you can use the Meta Ads Manager, you need to verify a payment method.

  1. Select ‘Billing’ in the Billing section of Ads Manager.

Meta Ads manager, showing the billing menu option.
  1. A new window opens. Choose ‘Payment settings’ on the top right.


Meta Ads manager, showing payment settings.
  1. In the Payment settings section, click ‘Add payment method’.

Meta Ads manager, showing add payment method.

  1. Choose your preferred payment method and confirm your selection.

Now you’re all set to start advertising!

Step 2: Understanding Meta ads Manager


Meta Ads manager, showing overview columns on the dashboard.

The Meta ads Manager is designed in an intuitive way, Most of the the user interface or “dashboard” is dedicated to showing the status of your ongoing advertisements, presented in a table format. 

The dashboard is divided into three distinct sections - Campaigns, Ad Sets, and Ads. You can switch easily between these tabs:

  1. Campaign - The goal level where you define your campaign objective.
  2. Ad Set - The settings level where you decide many important settings like budget, performance optimization, ad placement (Instagram stories, Facebook feed, etc.), destination for your ad (website, app, etc.), demographics, audience, and interest targeting.
  3. Ads - The content level where you upload your images, videos, and write your ad copy. This is what users will actually see.

You can access important options and settings on the left side when you click on the menu button (three horizontal lines). There are a lot of useful tools and advanced options that we discuss in our other blog posts. For example, setting up conversion events and managing user permissions for your team.

Meta Ads manager, showing the campaign tab.

Step 3: Create a New Ad Campaign

To make your first ad, navigate to the top left in your Campaign window and click the “Create Ad” button.

Meta Ads manager, showing the create button.

A new window will pop up with all the important settings for your campaign. Let's jump in!

Step 4: Set Ad Campaign Objective

Every campaign starts with a specific campaign objective. Choose the one that best aligns with business goals. 

With the Meta ads Manager, you can choose between many different objectives. Find one that best aligns with your business goals. Here’s a quick breakdown of the six objectives:

  • Awareness - When you want as many people as possible to see your ad.
  • Traffic - When you want people to visit your website, click a link, or read an article.
  • Engagement - When you want people to watch your videos, like/follow/share your posts
  • Leads - When you want people to fill out a form.
  • App promotion - When you want people to install your app and use your app.
  • Sales - When you want people to convert into customers i.e. make a purchase.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you choose the lowest funnel goals possible. Most advertisers want to sell a product or get people to use their app, so that means choosing the Sales or App promotion objective. The Facebook algorithm does a great job of finding the users who will use your product or service, so you should choose the objective that you really want…to sell your product or service!

Meta Ads manager, showing the create new campaign set up screen.

Here’s a bit more information on what objective can do for you:

  • Awareness: This option shows your ad to as many people as possible within your budget to increase brand recognition. In practice, this means a large number of impressions with a low CPM. Awareness ads can be useful to retarget users who have engaged watched your videos or who live in the area of your store location.
  • Traffic: Traffic ads try to find users who will visit your website, landing page, or app. You can also use traffic campaigns to find users to contact you through Messenger or WhatsApp.
  • Engagement: These ads find users who are more likely to watch your videos and like, follow, or share your posts. The idea is that customers who engage with your ads and posts are more likely to convert into a successful customer down the road. For example, one tactic is to use Engagement ads to find users who watch 50% of a video ad, and then retarget those users with another campaign.
  • Leads: These ads get users to fill out a form, contact you through Messenger, or give you a phone call. Lead ads can work great for local businesses like contractors to advertise their services to a specific region and gain prospective clients.
  • App promotion: This is the best option if you want to get users to install and use your app. This objective allows you to optimize for app installs or in-app events like add to cart or purchase.
  • Sales: Target individuals who are more likely to make a purchase of your product or service. These ads direct users to your website or catalog where they can make a purchase or take an action that you define with an event like adding an item to your shopping cart. This is usually the best option for most advertisers.

Pro Tip: Identifying and selecting the right objective is essential to meet your marketing goals. For example, if the objective is to drive product sales, it is important to choose the Sales objective instead of Traffic.' While this may seem straightforward, it is a common error made by many marketers. Focus on your final objective, and start with a campaign that aligns with your goal.

Step 5: Creating a New Campaign

After choosing the campaign objective, you will be directed to a new page where you can edit campaign settings. It’s easy to switch between campaign, Ad Set, and ad level tabs to make changes. You can always come back and make adjustments in the future, so you can move forward with the campaign setup if you’re not sure about a specific setting.

Meta Ads manager, showing the campaign dashboard.

Choose a name for your campaign. There are two main naming approaches:

  1. Descriptive - Choose an easily readable name describing the campaign that anyone can easily understand. For example, “Sales Campaign” or “Lead Generation”
  2. Analytical - If you want to run experiments or be able to see the campaign variables at a glance, then your campaign name can be a kind of template with the most important settings like campaign type, date, and specific notes. For example, “[campaign type]_[geo]_[date]_[variable_a]_[variable_b]”

As a rule, we recommend using a readable name that makes sense to you and your collaborators and gives broad insights into your campaign.

Meta Ads manager, showing campaign name text field.

Most of the time, you probably just want to run a standard campaign with the default settings. There are custom options like A/B Test or Advantage Campaign Budget, but don’t turn those on unless you specifically understand those features. Click the blue Next button to get to the next section and create your Ad Set.

Step 6: Creating a New Ad Set

Choose a name for your ad campaign. Like with campaign naming (see above), you can choose a more descriptive or analytical title. There are no rules. It’s even fine to use the same name as the campaign with a little extra information like date, location, and type of audience. Just make sure you provide enough information to avoid any confusion and distinguish between multiple ad sets.

For example, if you run two different Ad Sets, one in New York and another one in Los Angeles, then you could write two different Ad Set names and change one part of the title:

Meta Ads manager, showing ad set name text field.
Meta Ads manager, showing ad set name text field.

Now you and your collaborators can find the right Ad Set immediately to compare the numbers and results side-by-side in the dashboard.

The following steps will guide you through choosing the best Ad Set settings.

Step 7: Set a Campaign Budget

Determine your desired campaign budget. It can be specified as a daily budget or as a lifetime limit for the campaign.

Meta Ads manager, showing ad budget section.

  • Daily Budget: The daily spending limit for your ads within the Ad Set. Once the daily budget is exhausted, the advertisements will stop delivering, and the process will begin again the next day.
  • Lifetime Budget: Lifetime budget represents the maximum spending limit for the entire duration of your ad campaign. By choosing an amount and an end date, you allow Facebook to allocate the budget based on ad performance. Once the lifetime budget is reached, the campaign will stop.

Pro Tip: We usually recommend a daily budget. Think about what you want to pay for the type of conversion you are targeting (sale, lead form, link click to your website). Multiply that number by 20, and that is a good place to start for a daily budget. Setting your budget too low means that you won’t get any conversions. Giving Meta enough budget is important so it can find the right users to target. However, giving too much budget means you will exhaust your funds in a short amount of time. It’s also important to give Facebook a couple of weeks to optimize your campaigns. Finding the right balance of budget and time is incredibly important to run a successful Meta ads campaign.

Step 8: Defining Your Target Audience

Defining your target audience is crucial to reach the right users with your Meta ads campaign. There are several audience options and types. It’s not one-size-fits-all. Different types of audiences can work very well or poorly depending on your type of business, service, or ad creative (videos, images, text).

The main target audience parameters are:

  • Custom audiences
  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Interests
  • Behaviors

Some targeting options are simple, but others offer more advanced customization. You can create a very specific audience by selecting a custom audience or excluding specific types of users. One incredible feature with Meta Ads is the ability to create “lookalike” audiences. This is when Meta analyzes your best customers and then uses its algorithm to find similar users who might also become your best customers.

For example, if we want to target people who are interested in diving, we can add the interest ‘Diving (water sport)’ as an interest, and we get this result:

Meta Ads manager, showing audience setup.

Meta automatically shows us an audience breakdown (right side). Approximately 7.9 to 9.3 million people on Meta in the United States have an interest in diving. That is our total addressable market (TAM). With our daily budget, we can expect to reach 1.5k to 4.2k people each day, with an estimated ten conversions or less. Obviously, if we spend more each day, then we will both reach more users and expect more conversions.

Pro Tip #1: Select a broad audience at first to get a performance baseline. Then try to beat that baseline by creating new ad sets that target different audiences based on their behavior (e.g. visited your website) or interests (e.g. interior design). Creating a complex audience with lots of variables at the beginning might lead to poor results and bad decisions. In fact, it’s common that the simplest audience (just a location, age, and no interests or behavior) can perform the best!

Nina Dans from Socium Media echoes that advice, "The most important thing is not to limit the platform by over targeting. The more specifications you add, the higher your CPAs are going to be."

Step 9: Choose an Ad Placement

Ad placement is where your ad will show up. Where does your target audience view their content? Does your customer live more on Facebook or Instagram stories? Think about the best placements for your ads to be delivered.

It’s important to note that different placements require different types of content and creative. For example, on Instagram, square images or videos are required, but for Instagram Stories, vertical videos that take up the entire space on a smartphone look best.

There are two main options: Advantage+ or Manual placements.

Meta Ads manager, showing ad placement setup.

  • Advantage+: This is Meta’s automated option. The algorithm will decide the best places to show your ad to reach your audience and achieve your campaign objective. You do not need to decide on specific ad placement options.
  • Manual: You can decide the specific ad placements. This option is good if you know exactly where you want to advertise. For example, if your audience is on Instagram stories and you have vertical videos of influencers using your product, then you could select only to advertise on Instagram Stories.

Here is a quick breakdown of the manual placements available on Meta ads across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:

  • Feeds: Highlight your business and increase visibility with ads in users’ feeds.
  • Stories and Reels: Engage your audience with captivating, full-screen vertical ads that bring your story to life.
  • In-stream: Get the attention of viewers while they're watching videos.
  • Reels overlay: Connect with your audience by showcasing your ads as stickers or banners while they enjoy short-form content.
  • Search: Increase your visibility on Facebook as people search for related products or services.
  • Messages: Reach out to individuals already connected to your business with offers or updates.
  • In article: Interact with readers of Instant Articles within the Facebook mobile app.
  • Apps and sites: Expand your reach beyond Facebook with ads in external apps and websites.

Pro Tip: Unless you have a specific reason to choose manual, Meta’s automated Advantage+ placement option often performs well. After a few weeks, you can use the dashboard to see which placements have performed best. Then you can create a new ad campaign that uses only those top performing placements.

Step 10: Create Your Ad

Finally, the most exciting part of Meta ads has arrived…It's time to create your advertisement! 

You have the option to either use an existing social post or build a new ad with image, video, and text.

Use an existing post: 

For specific types of ads like boosted posts, you can use an existing post on your Facebook or Instagram page to create your ad.

Meta Ads manager, showing ad setup options.

Just choose the ‘Use existing post’ option. Then select your page from your linked accounts and choose the post to serve as the basis of your ad. If you have old content that performed well and received tons of engagement, then reuse it as an ad!

Create a new ad:

Meta Ads manager, showing image or video selection setup.

To create a new ad, choose ‘Create ad’ in the drop-down menu. Then choose an ad format. The ad types available will depend on your campaign objective. The most popular and straightforward ad formats are image or video, so that’s what we recommend starting with.

Other formats include Catalogue, Carousel, or Collection style ads. We dive into those options in our other blog posts.

Here is a breakdown of the ad formats as well as the specifications needed. It’s best practice to deliver your ad in the format requested by Meta for optimal delivery.

Image Ads:

Images ads are the simplest format, and even in the age of video, they are often the most effective ad type. They use a single image that can be used across almost all ad types and placements.

Pro Tip: Use text on the image that explains the problem your product or service solves in a short phrase. For example, “Learn Spanish in 20 minutes.”

Specs for Image Ads

  • File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Minimum Width: 600 pixels
  • Minimum Height: 600 pixels
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters

Video Ads:

Videos do an amazing job to show your product’s features, tell a customer story, or showcase your brand in a powerful way. A video ad with an exciting introduction can stand out from the rest of the feed and grab the attention of a user.

Pro Tip: The first 3 seconds of your video, aka “the hook,” are most important. You have 1-3 seconds to grab the attention of the viewer. Try out different video introductions to find the best hook.

Check out our blog post on Instagram and Facebook video ad best practices for an in-depth guide on making the best Meta video ads.

Specs for Video Ads

  • File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1 (for desktop or mobile) or 4:5 (for mobile only)
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 241 minutes
  • Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Minimum Width: 120 pixels
  • Minimum Height: 120 pixels
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters

Carousel Ads:

Show up to 10 images or videos in a single ad. Carousel ads are a great way to advertise multiple products or product variations, e.g. different shoe styles.

Specs for Carousel Ads

  • Image File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Number of Carousel Cards: 2 to 10
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 240 minutes
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 20 characters
  • Landing Page URL: Required

Slideshow Ads:

Meta automatically turns your images into a video ad by creating a slideshow from your images. A good way to test out video ads if you only have images.

Messenger Ads:

You can send direct messages to your target audience through the Messenger app.

Collection Ads:

Mobile only. Show a variety of products that belong to one collection.

Specs for Collection Ads:

  • Image Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Landing Page URL: Required

Stories Ads:

These ads appear as stories on Instagram or Facebook. Stories can be image or video and take up the entire screen, so they are very effective. However, stories are also very popular, so the ads can be slightly more expensive than other formats.

Playable Ads:

Customers can test out your app without leaving the Facebook platform. It’s a great way to let your audience try out an app before they purchase it.

Selecting visuals and writing copy:

In the end, nothing matters if you don’t have the right creative visuals and copy. The recipe for ad success? Use a strong image that gets people to stop the scroll, introduce them to your service and product with strong text, provide a great offer, and prompt them to take action.

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Step 11: Publish Your Ad

To finalize your ad, click the "Publish" button located at the bottom right corner of the page.

Meta Ads manager, showing green publish button.

After submission, Meta will review your ad to ensure compliance with their technical specifications and community guidelines. The review process typically takes no more than 24 hours. The status of your ad in the dashboard will say “In Review.”

When the review phase is completed, you will receive a confirmation email from Facebook indicating that your ad is live. The status of your ad in the dashboard will say “Learning.” This means Facebook is delivering your ad and gathering data. Learn more about ad status in our other blog posts.

Meta Ads manager, showing learning phase notification.

In this comprehensive guide, we laid out all the information you need to get started with Meta ads quickly. Meta is a platform that can significantly transform your marketing and boost business. You’ve learned to define clear campaign objectives, target the right audiences, optimize ad placements, and leverage varying ad formats to their fullest potential.

But how can you, as a marketer, transform this information into tangible results?

Start by incorporating the strategies outlined in this post into your daily marketing operations. Assess your current Meta ads strategy, identify areas for improvement, and apply the insights and tactics we've shared. Remember to conduct regular A/B testing to fine-tune your ads and rely on metrics analysis to understand what truly resonates with your audience.

But don't stop there. The landscape of digital advertising is ever-evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is key. Be sure to explore our other posts on digital advertising to take your marketing strategy to the next level.

The Next Step? Successful Strategy.

Director of Paid Social at Socium Media, Nina Dans has found that "there is no one "key" to success for advertising on Meta — there are hundreds! The biggest success factor is understanding the algorithm and placing less limits on your strategy. Let the system do the work to learn about your audience and deliver the right creative to the right individual."

Dans cautions that the biggest risk on Meta is wasting ad dollars if you don't know what you're doing: "Teaching yourself will cost some money before you see a return. On top of that, Meta changes continuously and without warning, so that's why it is highly advisable to have a person or agency monitoring the platform at all times."

At Filmkraft, we work with our clients to make sure the videos we produce are created with success on Meta in mind. A great account structure or strategy is nothing without well-crafted creative content. If you want to create the content that will scale your Meta ad campaigns, contact us today!