There are a lot of easy mistakes to make in the video carousel ads game. If you’ve tried using carousel ads before, and they didn’t work out for you, there’s a good chance that you just took one of the common missteps.
We’re going to help you understand carousel ads a bit better, and cover some guidelines and best practices that will help you get the results that you’d expect from such an advanced ad format.
We figure that by now you’re familiar with the Facebook ads manager and have (maybe) even created some carousel ads already. So we’re not going to get into the step-by-step process of carousel ad creation.
This chapter will focus on what to stick in the carousel ads creator and how carousel ads fit into your Facebook funnel. If you’re not familiar with the Facebook funnel, visit chapter one for an overview.
We’ll also illuminate some of the pitfalls in the Facebook carousel ads landscape, so you can make your way to creating awesome video carousel ads.
But first, we’ll answer a couple of important questions, so that you understand what’s at stake here.
Why use video carousel ads?
This is a logical question, especially if your video ads are doing just fine or if you’ve already experimented with video carousel ads and found them wanting.
First, video carousel ads are more interactive than most other ad types. The user has to swipe through the carousel cards. So carousel ads enable the user to do something with your ads rather than just watch them.
The second benefit of carousel ads is that they give you more ad real estate to work with. If you have multiple benefits or features to highlight, or if you’ve got a few different messages to deliver — and especially if you’ve got a story to tell — carousel ads can provide an ideal format for delivering that information in an organized, uncluttered fashion.
For instance, one carousel ad could combine the information from two or three standard video ads into a more efficient and consumable ad or give prospective customers a more complete view of your product or brand.
Carousel ads also offer more granular data collection. Facebook tracks user interaction with each card of the carousel. So, in your analytics, you can see which cards are getting the most attention.
If you’re using your carousel ads to highlight benefits or features, this offers insight into which ones your customers find most appealing. Or, if you’re delivering different parts of your brand message, it can help you identify what it is about your company that is most attractive to prospects.
So carousel ads can also be a nifty data collection tool that you can use for improving your other ad types.
Of course, video carousel ads are not be the best for everything, and there may be areas where video carousel ads aren’t ideal for your business. So there’s no reason to abandon your other ad types, but carousel ads are a great tool to have in your toolbox.
Additionally, having more ad types at your disposal can help avoid creative fatigue and re-engage with prospective customers who have already seen your ads in other formats.
When to use video carousel ads?
Determining whether or not a video carousel ad is what you need is actually pretty simple.
First, identify the message or content that you want to deliver in the ad.
If the content of your ad has multiple distinct parts that are somehow related and it would be difficult or impossible to get all of the information into a single image or video ad, a carousel ad is probably a good option.
For example, it can be tricky to highlight multiple products in a single video ad. In this case, a carousel ad might perform very well for you.
But be honest with yourself. Sometimes it’s best just to create multiple standard ads, each with a different focus. The key is that all the distinct parts of your message are related.
So, if you have a product and a service to advertise, it would usually be unwise to showcase both in a single carousel ad.
To give you an idea of where carousel ads can be effective, here are some ways that brands have found success with carousel ads:
- Use the carousel to highlight specific details of a single product.
- Show each step of using a product.
- Show users the different parts of an app.
- Promote different content pieces.
- Tell your brand’s story.
- Share customer success stories and testimonials.
- Show the different products in your catalog.
Notice how all of these ads have a single focus, that can be stated in a simple sentence? That’s how you want to build a carousel ad: with a clear, singular focus. We’ll dig into this concept throughout the chapter. But it’s by far the most important aspect of carousel ad creation.
Carousel ads that aren’t coherent tend to perform poorly. So it’s important to ensure that you’ve got content and intent that matches the carousel format.
How to use carousels throughout your funnel
Video carousel ads function a bit differently depending on the objective for the campaign. The ad format guides the ad content quite a bit.
Since users need to engage with the ad in order for it to be effective, it’s vital that the carousel delivers information that incentivizes people to swipe through the carousel cards.
This means that carousel ads are structured quite differently at each stage of the funnel, unlike other ad formats where the only difference is content.
Awareness carousel ads
The most important thing about awareness ads is that all the carousel cards tell a cohesive story.
This is especially critical for awareness campaigns because there’s usually no call to action in an awareness campaign. A conversion is when people view all the content in the carousel.
If the messaging of each card is different and there’s no consistent narrative, then the cards are going to seem unrelated, which discourages people from moving through all the cards and seeing the entire ad.
The story doesn’t need to be complex. But there must be a logical progression from card to card.
This is a good example of a carousel ad with a simple story that encourages viewers to move to the next card.
The story is here is very simple. But it’s effective for driving people toward the conversion of this ad: to view all of the cards.
The thing about using video carousel ads for awareness campaigns is that they can require more production resources. Telling a complete story in your ad can be done on a shoestring budget. But people expect better-produced content in an awareness carousel ad.
Part of the reason for this goes back to the lack of calls to action in awareness campaigns. Since the conversion is viewing all of the ad content, the ad content needs to be well produced and deliver some entertainment value in order to hold people’s attention through three or four carousel cards.
This means that it’s often the bigger companies and marketing agencies that use video carousel ads in their awareness campaigns, simply because they have the resources to create polished videos.
We’re not saying that you can’t use carousel ads for awareness if you’ve got a limited production budget. But make sure that your videos look professional and that they work together from carousel card to carousel card to tell a complete story.
Consideration carousel ads
The consideration stage is where carousel ads become a bit more flexible. Here, people are looking for information about your brand and product.
Video carousel ads are an excellent way to highlight individual products, benefits, or features.
Since you want to include a call to action in your consideration ads, the consideration stage is where you can leverage the data collection strengths of the carousel ad format. Facebook collects data on which carousel card viewers click on. So you can see which cards are most appealing to your audience.
This is an opportunity for your customers to voluntarily tell you what’s most appealing about your product or service. It’s excellent information that you can refer to when you create new campaigns, especially remarketing campaigns.
If you know the specific benefit that a prospect clicked on, you can serve them remarketing ads with very targeted and concise content that speaks specifically to that interest. This can make for really effective lookalike audiences and targeted remarketing ads.
Even though consideration ads are designed to highlight different products, benefits, or features, it’s still important that your video creative is thematically related and that each card logically progresses to the next. You want to incentivize people to swipe through the cards.
If your cards appear entirely unrelated, it creates a pattern interrupt that can cause viewers to move on.
To give you an idea of how you can create thematically related cards, here’s a nicely built consideration video carousel ad.
Notice how they use the same model on each card and illustrate a process using the cards to create a central theme in the ad: how to use the product.
It’s valuable information that would be delivered less interactively in a standard image or video ad. This company gets an A for identifying good use of carousel ads.
One thing to note about this ad is that it probably won’t generate a lot of data about what customers find most interesting about the product, since each card is just part of a process.
However, they might be able to extrapolate some insight about whether customers are more intrigued by the ease of use or the end result based on whether they’re clicking on the process cards or the finished card more often.
There are other ways to create a compelling carousel flow. But the ‘how to’ angle is always a good option.
Last thing: consideration video carousel ads are more budget-friendly than awareness ads. But it’s still important that you keep your video creative as polished as possible.
Conversion carousel ads
These follow the same rules as consideration ads, so we’ll keep this section brief.
Conversion carousel ads are designed to show key wins and benefits that help people make that final decision to purchase. So they’re not as story driven as awareness ads.
But, again, keep your ad creative thematically related and spend plenty of time polishing.
The conversion carousel ad below is excellent.
If you’re a retailer or ecommerce company with multiple products to showcase, carousel ads like this can be a no brainer. Although the story is minimal, the carousel uses the color scheme and style to create a consistent theme.
You can collect granular data about which cards people are clicking at the conversion stage as well. Ads that display products or benefits like this one are especially useful for this because they offer the opportunity to create hyper-targeted remarketing ads based on which products or benefits your customer base finds most intriguing.
Next, we’ll get into a few key aspects of creating a video carousel campaign.
Making exceptional video carousels
This isn’t a complete guide to creating video carousel ads. If you need a refresher on the ads manager and how to create different ad types, check out chapter three for a step-by-step outline of the ad creation workflow.
If you haven’t created video carousel ads yet, a quick note is that you’ll need a separate video file for each carousel card. There’s no tool in the Facebook ads manager for editing or cutting your footage.
In this section, we’re going to get into some of the important settings and things you’ll need to do to ensure that your carousels look and perform the way you want.
Facebook offers a lot of interesting options for carousel ads. But if you use them incorrectly, it can make your ads look and behave oddly.
Carousel card optimization
In the ad creation workflow, there’s a checkbox labeled, ‘Automatically show the best performing cards first.’
If you check this box, Facebook will track which card gets the most clicks and move that card to be first in the carousel.
If your carousel cards need to be in a specific order from left to right in order to make sense, this option will ruin your ad, since it will change the order of the cards.
It’s usually best to leave this option disabled for awareness campaigns, where you’re typically telling a cohesive story through the cards.
If you’re running consideration or awareness campaigns where the order of the cards isn’t integral to the appearance and function of the ad, this option can help improve ad performance.
However, if you’re using the carousel ads to collect data about what products, benefits, or features your customers click on most, you’ll need to leave this option disabled at least until you’ve gathered enough data for your other purposes. Once Facebook moves one card to the front, it may skew clicks in favor of that card simply because it’s first in the carousel.
Finishing on a profile picture
The second option Facebook offers is to add a card at the end of the carousel with your profile picture.
This is usually best left disabled. It defaults to whatever your profile picture happens to be, which may or may not make sense within the context of the other carousel cards.
Also, if you change your profile picture, it’s going to affect any carousel ads using this option.
If you’d like to include a card at the end with your logo or the like, it’s best to create a card for it. That way you know that the picture will always fit with the ad.
Call to action
Facebook has a whole bunch of predefined calls to action that you can choose from. However, there’s also an option to display carousel ads without a call to action.
Turn this option off for awareness campaigns, where a call to action is not necessary since viewing all the slides is a conversion.
For your consideration and conversion campaigns, you definitely want a call to action button on each card.
Whether you’re including a call to action button or not, remember that the copy on each card should reflect the presence of a call to action button or lack thereof.
Those are the big three considerations of creating a carousel campaign. The rest of carousel ad creation is pretty standard ad creation stuff.
What to put in your videos
We’ve already touched a bit on what type of video to use for your carousel campaigns: it all revolves around creating a story or building a central theme.
But the idea of a story can be a bit abstract, so we’ll to dig into using your videos to create a story and give some examples to illustrate things more clearly. If you need help with the video creation itself, we have an extensive guide to video marketing.
So first, a bit about story. A carousel ad offers a lot more space than a standard video ad. But it’s still not a ton of space. You’re not going to get the Lord of the Rings done in five carousel cards or even ten.
To help make the idea of a story a bit more concrete, there are only two real requirements for creating a story:
- You need a central character.
- Their life has to change, for better or for worse.
That’s it. Since you’re making video ads, not writing Shakespearean tragedies, it’s probably best to stick with people’s lives getting better.
The story concept is most applicable to awareness ads, where the story is really all there is to get the audience swiping through the cards. For consideration and conversion ads, you can get away with a much thinner story, since you’re largely delivering product and brand features and benefits.
But, no matter which type of campaign you’re running, the most important thing is that all the videos in your carousel convey an underlying message and point to the same action.
Using hidden ads vs boosted organic posts
We’ve talked a bit about the different ways to post ads on Facebook in other chapters, so let’s take a moment to clarify which is best for video carousel ads.
In a sentence: it’s best to run your carousel campaigns as hidden posts.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, posting your ads as hidden posts enables you to specify the audience that sees the ads. This way you’re showing your ads to the audience that’s most likely to click through and eventually convert.
Second, you can track engagement and click data on a hidden post. This way you can see how many clicks your ads are getting and which carousel cards they’re clicking on, so you can take full advantage of Facebook’s analytics and audience building.
This also means that Facebook can use the data it collects to optimize your ads. Remember the option to show the best performing carousel card first? Facebook can only detect the best performing carousel card if you’re using a hidden post.
An organic post just doesn’t offer this sort of analytical power, and is therefore less than optimal for your carousel campaigns.
Best practice summary
Since your videos are showing on carousel cards, there are a few areas where carousel ads are pickier than other ad types. So it’s important to get a few key details right.
Use 1:1 aspect ratio
This is hard and fast rule number one.
1:1 aspect ratio not only looks best in a carousel ad, it also enables the ad to work properly.
Ordinarily, the first video card will start as soon as the user scrolls over your carousel ad. But if the video is not in a 1:1 aspect ratio, the video won’t start unless the use clicks play. So your video carousel ad will actually look like a poorly designed image carousel ad at first.
This is a pretty easy rule to follow, since you’ll probably need to create videos exclusively for your video carousel campaigns anyway. There aren’t really any other ad formats that work similarly.
But if you plan on using the same video footage for multiple ad types, make sure it’s optimized for 1:1 if you’re going to use it in your carousel ads.
Use video or images, not both
It is possible to create carousel ads with video cards and static image cards.
However, the experience of swiping from a video card to an image card can be rather jarring. It creates an unpleasant pattern interrupt that kind of breaks the flow of the carousel. So the user experience from a carousel ad with both images and video is rather poor.
This is one more reason why it’s best to disable the option to add a card with your profile picture to the end of your carousel ads. It just doesn’t fit in a carousel with video cards.
Keep your videos short
Since the videos in your video carousel ads are cohesive, they function a bit like a single video.
So a five-card carousel ad with 15 seconds of video each is a minute and 15 seconds of video. That’s quite a bit of footage for a Facebook ad. Some might say too much.
Therefore it’s typically best to use shorter videos for each card of your carousel. Keep the video on each card shorter than 15 seconds. However, 5 to 10 seconds is best.
Just remember that the more cards you have, the longer your total video footage is going to be.
Test them against your normal ads
The first thing you’ll want to do with your carousel ads is find out whether they’re performing better or worse than your other ad types.
So, when you first create your carousel ads, it’s best to put them in the same campaign as your other ad types. That way you can A/B test them against those ads and find out if they’re working the way you want.
It’s also easier to use the performance of your standard video and image ads as a baseline for optimizing the creative of your carousel ads while they’re all in the same campaign.
However, you should move your carousel ads into their own campaign once you’ve got enough data to verify that your carousel ads work better than your other, ads or at least just as well. This way you can do a higher level analysis of how video carousel ads work as a whole for your business.
Ultimately, starting with carousel ads this way is the best approach for methodically implementing a new ad type, and it can work if you’re starting out with other ad types as well.
Use minimal text
Taking advantage of the header text in the ad and the text on each carousel card is smart. You should have some copy in your ad.
However, there’s a lot going on in carousel ads.
There are multiple distinct videos or pictures and the user has to swipe through the carousel. So too much text can distract from the main focus of the ad, which is the videos and getting the user to view all the cards. On the flipside, too little copy might mean an ad doesn’t provide adequate context for the videos to be effective.
So keep the header text to a line or two, and avoid cluttering your cards with too much text at the bottom.
Mind your landing page
For many marketers, carousel ads are most useful at the consideration and conversion stages of the funnel.
This means that your carousel ads are going to have a call to action button that takes users to a blog or some sort of landing page.
Since the user is swiping through the carousel, a linear experience is created. So it’s especially important that the associated landing page feels like an extension of the carousel. Otherwise the overall use experience can be choppy and jarring.
Make sure your landing pages thematically match your carousel ads. You may even need to create a separate landing page for your carousel ads.
Build your carousel as a single ad
We’ve been banging this drum for most of this chapter, but that’s because it’s what makes a carousel ad effective or ineffective.
Carousel ads must tell a story or have a consistent theme and coherent message. The biggest mistake marketers make when they create their carousel ad is treating each card like it’s own ad.
The temptation to use all the extra space to say everything is strong, but this creates a carousel ad that’s too scattered to drive any specific action. People will likely move on without engaging, since an ad without a central focus gives the impression of several calls to action, which can be overwhelming.
When people are presented with too many options to process efficiently, they typically decide not to do anything. In terms of advertising, inaction is a missed conversion. So keep your carousel ads cohesive and stick with delivering a single message or theme in each ad. It’s better to have multiple ads that build to a conclusion than a single ad that doesn’t work at all.
Key metrics for measuring success
Although carousel campaigns utilize a different ad format, the metrics for success are still largely the same.
For awareness campaigns, you’re focusing on carousel completions.
For consideration campaigns, click-through rates and page views are the most important data point.
For conversion campaigns, conversions are the goal (who’d have thought).
Carousel ads have an additional metric to monitor: carousel card clicks. Facebook shows these in the ‘breakdowns’ section for each carousel ad.
This metric is for checking the health of the carousel ads themselves.
We talked about using the carousel cards that get the most clicks as an indicator of what your customers are interested in. The flipside of that coin is carousel cards that aren’t getting clicks.
Keep an eye on how much attention each carousel card gets, so you can change up the content on cards that customers aren’t clicking on.
Use your standard image, video ads, and the other cards in the carousel to establish a baseline for carousel card performance. Then you can redesign cards that receive significantly fewer clicks than your other cards and ads to bring them up to scratch.
This enables you to make methodical tweaks to your carousel ads and systematically improve the lowest performing parts of each ad. You’ll steadily raise the performance of your ads this way.
We’ll really blow your mind with metrics in chapter ten. Just remember that carousel ads have some individual pieces to evaluate.
Practice makes perfect
Carousel ads are an excellent tool to have in your kit. Many advertisers don’t use carousel ads at all. Often it’s because they’ve tried to use them and found little success with them, or because they find it too difficult to create quality carousel ads.
True, it can definitely be hard to create strong carousel ads. However, if you’re able to deploy a carousel campaign effectively, you can really stand out in the field of Facebook marketing.
If you’d like to try your hand at using carousel ads, it can be easiest to start out using images for your carousel, since it’s easier to create good images than it is to create good video. Once you’re confident in the art of creating a good cohesive carousel, you can use the data from your image carousel ads to choose a theme for your first video ad.
Choose the product, feature, or benefit that gets the most clicks in your carousel campaign and create some short videos that show the subject of the most popular image in a quick video series.
Notice that this naturally guides you toward the consideration or conversion stage of the funnel for your first video carousel ads, where it’s easiest to get away with simpler videos.
Up next, we’ll dive into measuring and analyzing all your campaigns in the ads manager.
We’ll show you how to learn from your campaigns and further fine-tune them, no matter what video ad format you’re using.
Complex content solution. Carousel video campaigns are perfect for telling stories that wouldn’t normally fit in a single video ad.
Tell a story For all levels of the funnel, use carousels to tell a story that drives to the result you require: either engagement or clicks.
Monitor card clicks. Beyond monitoring your campaign objectives, also track card clicks. This tells you which parts of your carousel are healthy and which are not.