updated October 2020
You have your data. You have your product or service. You know your USP.
You’ve read every guide going on how best to optimise your Facebook ads, when to schedule them, what your objectives should be.
Once you know this stuff, you’re ready to roll, right? Wrong.
If only it was a mere matter of science.
It’s all very well having that information, but no matter how well planned your campaign structure is, how data-driven your scheduling, budgets and audience are - at the end of the day, it’s the creative that matters.
That’s not to say that you don’t need this information, that you shouldn’t plan - you absolutely should.
But even if your USP is unmatched, your ad copy is engaging and your ads are being delivered to the perfect audience at the perfect time - if your Ad Creative isn’t eye catching, you’re undoing all of your hard work.
At least data is reliable, style is so subjective!
Yup. It’s a tricky one.
Your target audience might all be female, 25-34, live in the city and love road cycling but that’s as much as you know they have in common.
Who’s to say what colours the majority of them like, what typography, whether they prefer photographic imagery or illustrated graphics?
Get back in the game, data-heads! This is where A/B testing comes into play..
Yay! Science experiment!
If you haven’t run ads before, then having a variety of creatives in your arsenal to test on your audience is a must.
Running A/B tests means you can find out exactly what type of creative resonates best in any campaign.
A variety of creatives? How will I know where to start?
Simple. Your brand.
Hopefully, you have brand guidelines in place. That's your colour palette, fonts, tone of voice etc.
Your creatives therefore don’t have to be vastly different.
For example, you might play around with your primary and secondary brand colours, alternate between sentence case and upper case, test more ‘playful’ imagery vs. more ‘business’ imagery - you still have plenty of options.
But playing around within the limits of your brand guidelines ensures that:
- You aren’t overwhelmed by the dizziness of freedom
- All of the creatives you create are at least recognisably aligned to your brand and will therefore contribute to your overall brand awareness
You make it sound simple - but I’m not a graphic designer and I can’t afford to hire an agency, how can I create effective Facebook Ad creatives?
Hey, don't be so hard on yourself.
Gone are the days when you have to be proficient in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or Indesign to create powerful marketing graphics - or Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects for video and animation.
Okay yes. If you have the money to hire a decent in-house creative or outsource to a reputable agency? It's probably worth doing.
If not, there are plenty of free tools in existence to enable you to make great ad creatives and unleash your hidden artistic talents...
Here are our top free resources for effective Facebook ad creatives
First things first, you're going to need to source your ad material - whether this be photos, graphics or video content.
Websites for free stock photos
It all starts with an image. It's the first thing your users will see and it's what you're relying on to get them to stop scrolling, read your copy and ultimately convert.
Pixabay is a veritable feast.
The site boasts over 1.4 million royalty free stock images - split into photos, illustrations and vector graphics, so you have plenty of room to play with your creative style.
Pexels is a photos only website, so has less options than Pixabay in terms of offering vectors and illustrated graphics, plus the number of results you’ll get for your search tends to be smaller.
Pexels photos tend to be higher end and better quality however, so If you’re looking for some really solid photography, it's a great place to start your search before broadening out to other sites.
The above to are our go-to favourites and generally deliver, however it's worth also mentioning the below three sites.
Each are similar to pexels, in that they all focus exclusively on free to use photography. Worth keeping in your back pocket in case you can't find what you're looking for:
Websites for free video
It's no secret that video is one of the strongest performing ad types on the planet right now. That is, if you do it right.
Here's where you can get great quality free-to-use footage for your video ad:
Again? Yup! They offer videos on their plaform too!
As with their photo service, it may be less comprehensive than pixabay, but you can get some really beautiful footage here.
Pond 5 Free
Whilst Pond5 themselves are a paid stock footage provider, they have a pretty nifty project running called ‘The Public Domain Project’.
Yes this footage is pretty much all historical and thus old fashioned, but that can be a great look - particularly for comic, educational or 'technological advancement' style videos.
Vimeo Public Domain Dedication
Okay, so I'm a huge sucker for Vimeo, it's my favourite go-to platform for video content.
Whilst this might be considered the place to watch films, web-series or to host your high quality business videos, they actually list all of their CC0 Attributed videos in one place.
With a search feature and 128,000 videos currently on offer, it's a brilliant resource for free footage.
Free websites to create your facebook ad graphics:
Okay, so you have your content - now you need to actually do something with it..
Canva is the tool that can turn anyone into a graphic designer. With an amazing array of templates, pre-made editable designs and intuitive user interface, it’s perfect for quick and simple designs.
There is a paid for, premium version, which allows you to upload custom fonts or have access to their premium stock photos/illustrations (don't worry - they have freebies too!) but there is so much on offer with the free version, you’re unlikely to find yourself needing to upgrade.
Adobe Spark Post
Whilst Canva is all about visual graphics and documents, Adobe Spark allows you to create three main assets, spark posts, spark pages (landing pages) and spark video (we’ll come to this later).
Spark Post is the feature you'll want for a quick Facebook Ad creative.
Similar to the offering in Canva, a lot of these are already laid out in the correct dimensions for your social platform and include easy to use design features, free stock photos and pre-made templates.
Pablo is a very quick and very easy way to create social graphics. It’s automatically sized to the social network you’re posting to, includes 600,000 free searchable images and a handful of nice typefaces to utilise.
Whilst it hasn’t quite got the design variety and sleek options that Canva and Adobe provide, it’s definitely a good place to start for the absolute beginner!
Websites to create video for your Facebook ad for free:
I'll always argue that if you have access to Premiere Pro and - more importantly - know how to use it, then do. Always do.
If you don't and you can't then don't despair! You don't have to pay a professional to create a video for you - or indeed pay through the nose for some of the 'easy to create' video options out there.
Biteable, CreatorKit, and Adobe Spark put Facebook Video ads firmly back on the table for those without experience or budget.
Okay so biteable is one of these SaaS video companies, but did you know they offer a free version?
It's a great tool for quickly producing short video content with great animated or high quality footage.
Okay, because everyone using biteable has access to the same high-quality stock videos, they are a bit easy to spot.
But when you’re on a budget and need something professional looking - fast - who cares?
The limitations of the free version mean that you won’t get access to all of their stock footage, you can’t upload your own footage and you’ll have a biteable watermark on your videos.
But you’ll still get to create up to 5 HD videos each month that you can publish directly to Facebook. Pretty nifty.
With CreatKit you can create insanely effective marketing videos in minutes.
No marketing team? No problem! It doesn't take much effort to get up and running with this option.
Whether you need to create thumb-stopping videos with beautifully designed motion graphics, add animated text to existing videos, or maybe you need to do the old image-to-video trick by using motion text or graphics on static images, CreatorKit is the go-to when you want a professional looking video without breaking the bank.
Adobe Spark Video
Adobe Spark video is pretty similar in layout to biteable, except you don’t get the free HD footage biteable provides.
What you do get from Adobe Spark is more control over the timing of your slides, free stock photos and the ability to upload your own footage.
So if you need a quick and easy editing platform to cut together that footage you got from pexels? You’re all set.
Websites to create free gifs for your Facebook Ads:
Oh yes, it's not just video changing the game in advertising.
Gifs, aka the first language of millenials world-wide are becoming more common place in Facebook ads of today.
Giphy, aka the Gif-father.
This is a great place to create your own gifs, either by importing your sequence of images, uploading a video directly (must be under 100MB and less than 60 seconds long) or by dropping in your YouTube or Vimeo link to convert.
A little less sleek than giphy, EZ gif also allows you to create gif from a series of images or via video upload (up to 120mb).
One useful thing is the gif optimiser, which should help you get your gifs to a 'playable' size for social.
Hang on, why can't I just get images from Google and videos from YouTube?
It all comes down to licensing and ownership. If you're not willing to pay for your images and videos, you must ensure they have the right licence for commerical use (aka advertising).
The image and video links we have listed should all contain images and videos with CC0 Creative Commons licencing.
What is a CC0 Creative Commons Licence?
A CC0 Attribution to an image or video means that (as well as being absolutely free) you don’t have to attribute your design to the creator of the image - you can use it for commercial purposes and edit it however you see fit.
Even with CC0 Licences, there are a couple of restrictions always worth bearing in mind here.
Important to note is that you can’t imply endorsement of your products or services from the creator of the image/video or any person(s) contained within it.
An example of this would be: you can’t stick a customer testimonial (even if the testimonial itself is real) next to the image of someone in a picture you’ve downloaded, as this would be falsely attributing the testimonial to that subject.
Sounds pretty fair to us!
I'm sold! Where can I get some inspiration for creating my own content?
Aside from scrolling through Facebook to see what crops up on your feed, there are some brilliant libraries online for you to browse through existing Facebook ads of all formats and styles:
Facebook Creative Hub Gallery
Where better to view Facebook Ad examples than Facebook itself?
The Creative Hub Gallery is an excellent resource, allowing you to view interactive ad examples as they would appear on mobile screens - filterable by ad format.
AdEspresso Ads Library
This library is absolutely huge.
Over 160,000 user-submitted, interactive Facebook ads, filterable by industry, placement, objective and attribute - well worth taking a look around!
Awesome! Anything else I need to know before I create my Facebook Ad creative?
Well, one thing you'll definitely need to do once you've sourced your image/video is to make sure it's the right size for your ad.
You can do this by using the Facebook Ads Guide.
Simply select your ad type and placement, and Facebook will tell you all you need to know about the desired design recommendations - such as optimal image dimensions, ratio and text limits.
Any other tips?
- Keep it simple! If you're designing your own creatives for the first time, you might be tempted to go overboard. Minimalism works.
- Keep your text in check! Text is for your headline and description, keep it minimal in your image. Facebook will penalise you if your image has more than 20% text across it, so be aware.
- Shorter the video? The better rate of conversion. Get across what you have to say quickly.
- Caption your videos. The majority of videos on Facebook Ads are watched with the sound off, so as Facebook say themselves 'Design for sound off, delight with sound on' - cover all bases.
Want to see how your ads look before you run them? Use Facebook Creative Hub!
Not only does it offer a great 'get inspired' gallery, Facebook Creative Hub allows you to create mockup campaigns, whatever the format, to ensure your creative works.
You can even share the design with others to get their feedback, edits or approval and you can export directly into Ads Manager once it’s ready to go!
Hopefully you're now feeling pretty confident about being able to quickly create your own Facebook Ad creatives for free!!
If not, why not check out this example creative we put together using these very resources?
In our example, we want to create a Facebook News Feed Image Ad, with our creative centred around the freedom TrustAds gives to Facebook Advertisers.
First we headed to Pexels for some suitable imagery:
Next up, we headed to Facebook Ads Guide to get the right specifications for the ad we're creating:
Dimensions identified, we headed to Canva to create a custom sized image using those dimensions, uploading our image from Pexels:
We then added some text, a CTA and our logo (without allowing more than 20% text across our image):
Like how we even used giphy to present that to you?
Of course, we didn't forget to mock-up an actual ad using the Creative Hub:
And also made sure our image passed Facebook's 20% rule:
Yes it's simple - and could definitely do with some work - but do you know how long it took for us to pull this together and brand it?
Less than 4 minutes (I was in a hurry).
Not bad for a quick mockup, using only free tools.