Skip links

What Is a Sponsored Ad on Facebook?

what is a sponsored ad on facebookHave you noticed lately that your Facebook business posts don’t seem to gain a lot of traction no matter how well-crafted they are? If so, you’re not alone.

For a few years now, businesses have been noticing a decline in organic reach on Facebook. This is in part due to the high volume of Facebook business accounts that have increased competition, but also because Facebook wants businesses to utilize its paid advertising options.

Today, we’re going to answer one of the most important social media marketing questions of 2023: what is a sponsored ad on Facebook? How can you start using sponsored ads to increase your reach?

At 46Mile, we’re paid media experts and we want to share what we know with you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about paid Facebook advertising.

The Basics: What Is a Sponsored Ad on Facebook?

A sponsored ad on Facebook is a lot like what it sounds like: an ad you pay Facebook to boost. Depending on the type of sponsored post you invest in and the specifications of that post, you may even see your ad floating around other platforms owned by Meta, including Instagram.

One of the best parts about sponsored ads on Facebook is that you can customize everything from your target audience to your price point. Hearing the word “sponsored” or “paid” can make some business owners wary, but paying to run ads and sponsored posts on Facebook is relatively low in cost.

Why Pay for Facebook Advertising?

If you haven’t paid for ads on Facebook and have been struggling with low engagement, you might assume that Facebook is no longer the most viable place for your social media marketing efforts. The reality is that unsponsored posts are getting lost to the algorithm that favors paid advertising. Sponsored ads can make a huge difference to your engagement and the conversions you get from your Facebook marketing.

Plus, Facebook is still the biggest social media platform on the internet. If you’re looking to target an audience that ranges from Millennials to the 65 and up crowd, Facebook is still a great place to do so. Other popular platforms like Instagram and TikTok tend to attract younger users, so skipping Facebook can mean missing out on a huge portion of your target audience.

How to Set Up a Sponsored Ad on Facebook

There are a few different approaches to paid advertising on Facebook and one of them is to create advertisements using Facebook’s Ads Manager (formerly known as the Meta Ads Manager). Admittedly, Ads Manager takes some getting used to, which is where bringing in Facebook marketing experts can help. For now, we’ll look at the most basic requirements you’ll need to meet to put together an ad using Ads Manager.

Create a Business Manager Account

Chances are, you already have a Facebook page for your business. Keep in mind that this is not the same thing as a Business Manager Account, which you’ll need to create in order to access Ads Manager.

To create a Business Manager Account, you will need to sign into your personal Facebook account, not the account for your business. Then, visit and select “Create Account” in the upper-right corner. You will then be prompted to provide basic information about your business—fortunately, this part is easy to follow.

Create a Campaign and Choose an Objective

Once you’re logged into your Business Manager Account, click “Create” in the upper-left corner to start a new ad campaign. The first thing you will need to do is choose an objective from a pre-programmed list.

If you’re new to Ads Manager, we recommend selecting “Conversions” as your campaign objective. This is one of the simplest ads to create and track. As you gain expertise or with the help of a social media expert, you can create more nuanced ad campaigns to meet objectives like generating leads, increasing engagement, and more.

Navigate the Campaign Level Setup

While you are creating your ad campaign, you will have to navigate three levels of campaign specifications: the campaign level, the ad set level, and the ad level.

The campaign level encompasses the primary objectives of your campaign and your budget. The ad set level encompasses things like your target audience, placements, and the length of time you want this campaign to run. The ad level encompasses all of the creative options.

Once again, this can be simple or complicated depending on the choices you make and how specific you want your ad campaign to be. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most important elements that you should prioritize from the start.

Set Your Target Audience

Within the ad set level, you will need to establish your target audience. Thanks to years of data collection, Facebook offers some very powerful targeting technology that makes the investment more than worthwhile. You can plug in information like the location of your target audience, the age bracket of your target audience, and even the keywords your target audience might be using to search for products or services like yours.

We recommend broadening your target a bit to ensure that you’re capturing as many viewers as possible. For example, if you consider your target audience to be people between 30 and 60, set your target audience for your ad campaign at 20 to 70. In addition, we urge you to check the box below “Detailed Targeting Expansion” which will allow Facebook to boost your post for an audience that is slightly outside of the parameters you’ve set.

Add Your Media and CTA

Now it’s time to get to the creative side of things, including the media you want your sponsored ad to include. Navigate to Ad Setup to upload the video or images you want to accompany your post or choose from Facebook’s library of high-quality images that are free to use on any Ads Manager post. You will also be prompted to add your primary text and an optional headline and description, all of which will appear in the caption of your sponsored ad.

Finally, it’s time to select your call to action from a pre-programmed list. Examples of CTAs that you can choose from include “Shop Now,” “Sign Up,” “Subscribe,” and more. Include a coordinating URL (ie a relevant product page or contact page) so that Facebook can direct viewers appropriately when they follow your CTA.

How to Set Up a Sponsored Post on Facebook

Another option is to create a sponsored post on Facebook, something that’s a little more intuitive and user-friendly. If you’re not sold that you want to use Facebook’s paid marketing options, creating a few sponsored posts is a good place to start. Let’s look at the steps you’ll need to take to create a sponsored post.

Choose Between Existing or New Content

Log into your Facebook business page (which is, as we noted earlier, separate from your personal account or your Business Manager account). When you’re creating sponsored posts, you will do so from your Facebook business page, rather than a separate account or portal. You can either sponsor existing posts or sponsor brand new posts.

One option isn’t necessarily better than the other. You can always choose to sponsor an existing post that you already know did well with the limited audience that was able to see and interact with it. Alternatively, you can start fresh and waste no time getting a branded post in front of a much larger audience.

Specify Your Goal and CTA

Once again, you will need to specify things like the goal you hope to achieve with your sponsored post and a call to action. On sponsored posts, your options are more limited, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthwhile.

For goals, choose between increasing traffic to your business website or increasing engagement (ie likes and comments) with your Facebook post and Facebook business page. Then, select a CTA from a short list of options including “Sign Up,” “Follow,” and more.

Share Your Target Audience

You will have the option to share your target audience for your sponsored post, but you won’t be able to customize it quite as freely as you would with a sponsored ad. In this case, you can narrow down a target audience based on age, gender, location, interests, and other demographic categories. You can also choose to exclude certain demographics—something you may want to do, as sponsored ads will reach a certain number of Facebook users based on how much money you invest in the post.

In addition, you can also have the post boosted for audiences including:

  • Facebook users who like your business page
  • Facebook users who like your business page and their Facebook friends
  • any Facebook user in your local area

Facebook will also give you the option to let them generate a target audience for you. This is considered one of the more budget-friendly options and if you’re new to sponsored posts or have a limited budget, you may want to give it a shot.

Set the Duration and Budget

Next, you will need to set the duration for your Facebook post to receive Facebook sponsorship. If you’re sponsoring a post with a time-sensitive CTA (like taking advantage of a sale), this should be an easy choice to make. End the campaign duration on the day that the sale ends.

If you’re creating what could be considered an ever-green campaign, you may feel less sure about how long it should run. The good news is that when you type in your budget and select a specific duration, Facebook will automatically generate some useful numbers. The duration and budget will determine how many estimated Facebook users will see your post per day, making it easy to adjust both in order to achieve desirable results.

Say Yes to Conversion Tracking

Just below the duration and budget options, you will see “Conversion Tracking” next to a toggle button. Make sure to toggle that button so that conversion tracking is on.

Conversion tracking is a useful tool that allows you to adapt your marketing campaign over time. When you allow Facebook to track conversions, you can see how successful your sponsored post was in achieving your designated goals. This will allow you to discard or repeat sponsored posts based on their conversion rate and ROI.

Enter Payment Info and Hit Boost

The only thing left to do is pay for your ad and send it out into the world! Remember, you can pay as much or as little as you’d like. Even a $10 post can reach hundreds or thousands of people per day. If you’re creating your first few posts, don’t hesitate to start with a low investment to see how well your ads perform.

Remember, sponsored Facebook posts are not the same as sponsored Facebook ads. They are less customizable and powerful, but they’re great for short-term boosts and time-sensitive goals.

Let 46Mile Tackle Your Facebook Advertising

We hope that you now know the answer to the question, “What is a sponsored ad on Facebook?” This brief intro to sponsored Facebook ad creation is just the beginning of what 46Mile can do for you.

We’ve tackled sponsored ads for all of the Hearst-owned Facebook pages like SFGate and SFChronicle. If you want to leverage your audience the same way that a major media company does, it’s time to talk to us about how we can help.

To get started, get in touch and let us know what kinds of marketing services you need. We can’t wait to take your business to the next level!

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience. If you continue using this website, we'll assume that you are happy about that.