What are Facebook Automated Ads?

4 years ago

Anyone working in paid media will no doubt be familiar with new campaign formats and advertising features sneaking into the platforms with no notice. Sometimes these are small settings, other times they can entirely flip the best way to drive results on its head.

Being a Facebook marketing partner we love to see how much Facebook drives advertising automation and finding new and better ways to offer users relevant content, and advertisers business goal-focussed results. Such as Facebook automated ads. But what are Facebook automated ads exactly?

It's a way to create a ‘custom advertising plan’ for your business which will then in turn create ads that will run on an ongoing basis.

We now live in a world of marketing automation with Smart Bidding being a core component of PPC. What are these ads though and more importantly, do they work?

Facebook automated ads

I went through the process for our ad account out to illustrate the process, so, let’s get into it.

TLDR: It’s like a better boosted post, which allows you to quickly use page content such as images from organic posts and existing audiences within your ad manager account, to create ads that Facebook will ‘over time help you adjust settings for better performance’.

Log into Business Manager and go to your page, click notifications and then you should see the get started button on the left hand side of the screen.

When you get started, you navigate through a couple of screens where Facebook asks you some questions: which ad account you would like to use and more broadly about your business and goals, in order to get set up.

The options available seem pretty reasonable; we didn’t really fall into one perfectly but I selected the ‘Online’ option and chucked in our URL.

At the next screen, you get your ‘custom plan’ from Facebook. This is interesting. There is a bit of information around suggested budget, call to action and estimated daily traffic metrics, such as clicks and impressions.

The ‘Shop Now’ button recommendation seemed a little off for our particular business at this stage, however, this was only step 1 of 4.

At stage 2, you are taken to a preview screen where images have been pulled from your organic page posts. Here you have a number of customisation options and settings to work with. This seems really familiar as it’s very close to how the ad creation screen in ad manager looks.

The image editing stuff was particularly extensive; you can replace or edit the images that have been imported, you can even add stuff like filters, text and stickers! PS, look at that face! Rolo ftw

Once you have your images sorted, you can do most of the things you would (and should) usually do on ad manager, such as create headlines for the ads, write ad copy, enter a final URL (make sure you add URL parameters so you can see your campaign traffic in GA), and customise the CTA button…see ya ‘Shop Now’!

Next up is probably the most important part – audience. This is really interesting; by default ‘Automated ads’ wants to target your website visitors and lookalike audience based on them.

I had some really amazing results with this combination over Black Friday and cyber week, with campaigns for a client where there wasn’t any purchase event data to use for the lookalike data source, as it was a brand new site.

You can choose other audiences as well. Selecting custom audiences allows you to select from your library of custom audiences within the ad account you selected at the beginning.

Along with this, you can also use saved audiences and/or create a new audience.

For me this is really cool - targeting is something that really falls down with boosted posts a lot of the time.

With your audience defined you have some budget suggestions, you can select your Pixel and review the campaign that is about to launch.

Something again really cool (I know I’m sad to find this stuff so exciting), Facebook offers to send you updates via Messenger on how your ads are doing and tips to improve them.


Facebook automated ads are good. This is a quicker way to get something running than creating a campaign in ad manager, and there’s enough customisation to get the key things worked in, such as URL parameters and targeted audiences, with a relatively small amount of knowledge needed.

I’ve had gripes with boosted posts and this is more of a halfway house between a full-on campaign and a boost. If you’re a small business or a business new to paid social advertising, this should be taken advantage of.

Let’s face it, if I’d just ticked yes to all of the default options and written ad copy, this would be a well targeted campaign using custom and lookalike audiences, with suggestions directly from Facebook on how to optimise…not too shabby!

Some of this would be due to the existing setup of audiences and the Pixel, for example though, so it probably needs a degree of understanding of Facebook ads to get the account set up first.


  Tools Time Skill Level
Ad Manager Campaign Advanced High Advanced
Automated Ads Moderate Moderate Moderate
Boosted Post Basic Low Basic


If you have any questions about Facebook Automated Ads, or more broadly about paid media, why not drop us a line? 


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