Advertising on Facebook

John Chapman
Thursday 8 August 2019

Facebook advertising was the topic of discussion during the latest digital forum, this blog post summarises the meeting. If you are a student or staff member at the University of St Andrews, the slides from the digital forum are available to view online.

What are Facebook adverts?

Facebook ads are paid for posts that can appear across any of Facebook’s platform of social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Messenger). Ads are set up to target a specific audience and are generally used to promote services, products, events or causes. A post which has been paid for is clearly marked as ‘Sponsored’ – this provides transparency between Facebook, business pages and individual users.

A Facebook advert paid for by the UK government.
Example of a Facebook advert.

Why pay to post on Facebook?

Facebook is the most popular social media network. Over 1.5 billion people use Facebook every day. There is a high chance that your target audience is already using Facebook and being influenced by adverts from your competitors. There are currently over 7 million active advertisers on Facebook.

Compared to traditional marketing, Facebook ads are relatively cheap. Adverts can be created for as little as £10 to over £1000. All adverts can also be edited in real-time so it is possible to increase or decrease a budget during a campaign.

Facebook ads help to increase your brand awareness and traffic to your website.

The Facebook Ad Manager is a custom tool that allows you to easily create, monitor and analyse adverts.

The audience options available in the Ad Manager are extensive. This allows for the creation of defined and bespoke audiences to target.

The University and Facebook adverts

Since June 2017 the University has run over 33 advert campaigns. Schools and units who have requested Facebook ads include:

  • Medicine
  • Physics
  • The Graduate School
  • International Education Institute
  • Library
  • Saints Sport

Adverts have been shown in countries around the world, resulting in over 12 million impressions and 80,000 unique link clicks.

All adverts are run from the official University Facebook page and are initially paid for by Corporate Communications before being billed to the individual Schools and units.

Examples of University Facebook adverts

A single image Facebook advert promoting the University Library survey.
A single image advert used to promote the Library survey.


A carousel Facebook advert promoting the University's TESOL courses.
A carousel advert used to promote the TESOL courses.

How to create an advert

In order for a Facebook advert to launch the following points need to be considered:

  1. Determine the objective
    What do you want to achieve? Are you looking to raise brand awareness, increase link clicks to your website or promote a service? This will help decide on the type of advert you will require.
  2. Set your budget and schedule
    How long do you want your advert to run for, and how much are you willing to spend on it? Your budget will depend on factors including the length of your campaign and audience size. If you are new to Facebook ads it is recommended that you start on a small budget and increase it over time once analytic information is available.
  3. Choose your audience 
    Who do you want to see your advert? Facebook allows you to tailor your audience by basic traits such as location, age, gender and language. As well as including locations, you can also exclude locations. Once this has been decided, you can refine your audience further by demographics, interests and behaviours. This may include their education background, family information, hobbies and upcoming life events such as birthdays.
  4. Decide the location of the ad
    Facebook allows you to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the audience network all at the same time. The audience network is advertising space pre-purchased on third party sites by Facebook they then display your advert in. You should think about where you would want your advert to appear and what channels your audience is most likely to be on. You don’t need to appear on all channels.
  5. Choose an advert format 
    The two main advert formats the University use are single image or video or carousel. Both have similar requirements regarding media standards and text restraints. However, a carousel advert allows up to 10 individual cards on one advert. If you have a lot of points you want to highlight on your advert, a carousel might be best for you.

Advert analytics

During and after an ad campaign, Facebook provides detailed analytics on the performance. Metrics available include:

  • Link and unique link clicks
  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Cost per result
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Device
  • Time of day

These analytics are valuable as it allows for future adverts to be adjusted based on previous findings.

At the end of a campaign, a Facebook ad report is created for the School or unit who requested the advert to allow them to see the results.

Requesting a Facebook ad

If you would like to request a Facebook ad or to learn more, please email [email protected].

Think about the points listed for creating an advert so we can discuss your requirements and start to build your advert.

The next digital forum will take place on Wednesday 21 August in the Arts seminar room 2. The topic will be announced shortly.

Sign up to the digital newsletter to be informed of upcoming forums and blog updates.

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