How to Choose the Right Campaign Structure for Your Facebook Ads

facebook ad campaign structure

“Which campaign structure should I use?” 

It’s a question that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to running Facebook Ads. And the honest answer is…there is no single optimal campaign structure. The structure you choose will depend on:

1) What you’re trying to achieve with that particular campaign

2) How big your budget is

3) The nuances and quirks of your individual ad account 

But before we get started, let’s take a took at what I mean by Campaign Structure.

Facebook Ad Campaign

Structure 101

Facebook ad campaigns are structured in 3 layers (Campaign level, Ad Set level and Ad level).

Campaign level – This is where you set the objective for your overall Facebook ad campaign. In other words, this is where you tell Facebook what outcome you want to achieve from your Facebook ads. Within a campaign you can have 1 or multiple ad sets. 

Ad set level – Every ad campaign is made up of one or more ad sets. Ad sets are groups of ads which share the same objective but which differ based on the audience they target. Within an ad set you must have at least 1 ad, but you may have multiple ads within each ad set. 

Ad level – Ad level is the bottom ad campaign level – and it’s where you set up the actual ad creatives you’re going to run. At ad level you may have many different variations of an ad running to a single audience. 

facebook ad campaign structure

At each layer of the campaign you must make a few key decisions about the way Facebook allocates your budget and the audiences that the algorithm shows your ads to. So what are the key considerations at each level of your campaign? 

Campaign Level Considerations

  • What is your objective? – One of the first questions Facebook asks when you’re setting up a new campaign is – what is your campaign objective? 

Facebook offers countless different campaign objectives ranging from engagement, to traffic, to conversion. (Social Media Examiner has a detailed run-down of the main campaign objectives >> HERE).

Now, 95% of advertisers will choose a conversion objective. Because this objective tells Facebook to show your ads to all the people who are most likely to buy.

The downside of this is that the Conversion Objective is also the most expensive. So, if you’re running ads with a low budget it can be better to set an objective that’s higher up the funnel (like traffic or reach).

  • How should you allocate your ad budget? When you set up a new campaign Facebook lets you decide how much control you have over how your ad budget gets allocated. 

So you’ll need to decide if you want to allocate your budget at the Campaign Level or at the Ad Set Level (CBO or ABO). At campaign level, Facebook takes complete control over how it spends your ad budget. Which means it will often choose the best performing Ad Sets – and direct most of your ad spend there. On the flipside, if you allocate your budget at Ad Set level, you get to decide how much money Facebook spends on each audience. 

Neither one is better than the other. But the approach you choose will depend on a couple of factors:


  • How big is your budget? – If you have a small budget it’s often better to set your budget at campaign level, and let Facebook’s algorithm distribute your cash for you. 


  • Are you testing or scaling? – Most advertisers set their ad budget at campaign level when they’re ready to scale proven audiences and ads. That’s because they already have proof that their audiences and ads are working. And now they’re looking for the most efficient way to spend their budget and generate a return on ad spend. 

  • How many ad sets should you create? When you’re in scale mode you should aim to have between 3 and 5 ad sets, running to proven audiences in a CBO campaign.

And if you’re in test mode, you’ll want between 3 and 10 ad sets, with your budget set at the ad set level (more on this in a second).

And for retargeting campaigns, you’ll want at least 1 ad set (depending on the size of each of your audiences). If your retargeting audiences are small, it’s a good idea to group all of your warm audiences into a single ad set. 

Ad Set Level Considerations

  • ABO or CBO? As I already mentioned, Facebook lets you decide how much control you have over how your ad budget gets spent. It means – if you’re happy for Facebook to take full control – then CBO is your friend.

But if you want to test new audiences and ad creative – it’s normally best to set your budget at the ad set level. Here’s why…

During a CBO campaign, Facebook’s main concern is finding the most efficient way to spend your money. And sometimes that can mean channeling all your ad spend to one, single audience. 

Which is not very helpful when you’re testing the viability of different audiences. Or when you want to see which ad creative resonates best with different audiences.

It’s why test campaigns usually work best as ABO. 

  • How big should your audiences be? The ideal audience size is constantly shifting. And as Facebook’s algorithm gets more sophisticated, it’s likely that the ideal audience size will get bigger and bigger. 

Right now, a good rule of thumb is to use stay within these audience size parameters:

If you’re testing – 500k – 3 million audience size 

If you’re scaling – 5 – 30 million audience size 

  • How many ads should you have in each ad set? The ideal number of ad sets for a cold traffic campaign is between 4 and 10 ads…for both ABO and CBO campaigns. 

And for retargeting campaigns, the ideal number of ads per ad set is between 2 and 6.

A Quick Recap

If you’re anything like me, it always helps to have a visual to make it easy to remember these kinds of best practices.

facebook ad campaign structure

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