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Facebook Ad Objectives…Explained

Most local businesses should advertise on Facebook. That’s what I believe, and the evidence backs me up. It’s cost-effective and, if you do it right, it can help your business to grow.

But that is easier said than done.

While Facebook ads are effective, many local business owners don’t know which objectives to choose for their ads. Choosing the wrong objective may lead to a low return on your investment and possibly a dreaded feeling that you’ve wasted money.

With that in mind, here’s my rundown of Facebook ad objectives to help you understand which objective makes the most sense for your business.

What are the Available Ad Objectives on Facebook?  

When you create an ad for your business on Facebook, you can choose from 11 objectives divided into three categories: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. Let’s review them.

  1. Brand Awareness. These ads generally do not get a high click-through rate because their objective is to make people aware of your brand. They are best used as the first step in a campaign to attract new customers.
  2. Reach. If you want to get your ad in front of as many people in your target audience as possible, this is the objective to choose. Here again, you may not get a ton of engagement, but you will be sure that your ad appears in your target audience’s feed.
  3. Traffic. Traffic ads are designed to direct more traffic to the URL you choose, usually a link on your website. Facebook tracks only the number of people who click on your links, meaning that you’ll need to track conversions separately. 
  4. Engagement. On Facebook, engagement means likes, comments, and shares. If you want to get more people to engage with your content, this is the ad objective you should choose.
  5. App Installs. This one’s self-explanatory. If you’ve got an app to sell or promote, chose App Installs as your objective.
  6. Video Views. Have a video to promote? Choose the Video Views objective to get more people to watch your video. This objective is ideal for product demo and explainer videos.
  7. Lead Generation. If you’ve got a great lead magnet to promote, the Lead Generation objective is ideal because it allows the people who see your ad to opt in and get your lead magnet without leaving Facebook.
  8. Messages. Message ads are designed to get more people in your target audience to message your business on Facebook. They can be useful if you want to initiate conversations, answer questions, and nurture leads.
  9. Conversions. If your goal is to get more people to take a specific action, such as adding an item to their cart, buying a product, or RSVPing to an event, this is the ad objective to choose on Facebook. It works best when targeted to people who are already familiar with your brand.
  10. 10.Catalog Sales. Another ad objective that may be effective when targeted to people who already know your brand is the Catalog Sales objective. You can use it to connect Facebook with your product catalog and display individual products to your audience.
  11. 11.Store Visits. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, this ad objective can help you entice more local customers to visit your store. To use it, you’ll need to make sure that your business location(s) are accurate in Business Manager. (Be mindful of this objective as recent changes to mobile operating systems like iOS 14 might negatively impact your results)

You should think first about which objective you want to achieve. Consider the options we’ve explained above. Then, choose the ad objective that will help you get there.

Which Facebook Ad Objective is Right for Your Business?

Now, let’s talk about which Facebook ad objectives make the most sense for local businesses. Some simply are not good choices if you’ve got a small audience to target.

Brand Awareness is a good objective, particularly if you feel like your competitors have more brand recognition than you do or if you haven’t been in business for long. Recency bias can get you started down the path of getting your audience aware of your business. It’s a good idea that the ad you create is a compelling representation of your brand, including your brand’s personality, voice, and ethics.

Unless you have a large audience, the Reach objective is probably not ideal. The goal for that objective is to reach as many people as possible. Most small, local businesses should steer clear of this objective.

Traffic can be a good objective for small businesses who want to get more people to visit their websites. However, you should make sure that you have a well-designed landing page before you spend any money on traffic. You need to give people a reason to stay on your website once they click the link. That reason should be very clear and we would recommend the objective is to capture a lead or opt-in. For instance, getting an email address or SMS Text numbering exchange for something of value.

Store Visits as an ad objective for local businesses was awesome. It’s arguably the most highly focused ad objective available. But, with recent changes to mobile operating systems and privacy concerns, leveraging this objective might need to be revisited as results may be skewed based on target users privacy preferences.


The key with this is to test and see how your ad costs and the results of your campaign area affected. The argument worth considering is the results may still be compelling as a customer who registers as an actual store visit may be more valuable to a business owner than say an ‘aware’ community. 

If you decide to use the Store Visit objective make sure your location is and information is up-to-date. Its worth mentioning to target the ad to people who live within proximity to your store! Then test and expand your ad’s radius to see if it makes sense reaching people who aren’t necessarily within an easy traveling distance.

If you have an online store, then the Catalog Sales objective may be useful as well. It can help you show off your most popular products and get them in front of an audience. Again, targeting is going to be important. You should use this ad objective with an audience already familiar with your brand for the best results.

The Messages objective may be right for your company if you feel that you need one-on-one contact with customers to overcome their buying objections. However, you should only use this objective if you’re ready to monitor your messages and respond promptly when people write to you. A slow response time can undo any good you do with the ad itself. You may want to consider installing a chatbot in Facebook Messenger to send an immediate response.

Visiting your Facebook Ads Manager page will give you additional information and guidance as you create your ad. Remember, the ad objective you choose should be carefully selected to align with your business growth objectives for the best results.