Mayple logo

What is the Difference Between Facebook Ad Sets, Ads, and Ad Campaigns?

Ad campaigns are made up of ad sets. Ad sets are groups of ads that share settings for how, when, and where to run. It's essential to have the right campaign structure to be profitable.

Ben Kazinik
By Ben Kazinik

Published April 2, 2024.


An ad campaign is the highest level in Facebook's advertising structure, where you define the overall objective, like increasing website traffic, generating leads, or boosting post engagement. The ad set sits within the campaign, where you specify targeting, lifetime budget, schedule, and bidding strategies. A campaign contains one or more ad sets.

At the lowest level are the ads themselves, which are the creative elements, including images, videos, text, and call-to-action buttons, that your audience will see.

For example, in a campaign aimed at increasing website traffic, you might have an ad set targeting young adults interested in technology with ads featuring the latest gadgets.

Facebook Ads is one of the most complex advertising platforms available so it's really important that you not only know what each term means but that you also structure your account correctly, in order to maximize your ROI.

What is a Facebook ad campaign?

A Facebook ad campaign is the starting point of your advertising journey on the platform. It’s where you set a specific objective that aligns with your marketing goals, such as brand awareness, lead generation, or sales.

Each campaign can have multiple ad sets and ads, allowing for detailed segmentation and targeting based on different audience characteristics or strategic approaches.

An example of this would be a business launching a new product line. The campaign’s objective might be to increase sales, with different ad sets focusing on various demographics or regions.

Pro tip: want to improve your ROAS? Work with one of our top vetted Facebook Ads experts.

How do I know which Facebook campaign objective to use?

Selecting the right campaign objective depends on your ultimate marketing goal. Facebook offers various objectives categorized under awareness, consideration, and conversion goals.

Awareness objectives are suitable for increasing your brand’s visibility, while consideration objectives are aimed at engaging users and encouraging them to seek more information about your business. Conversion objectives drive action, such as purchasing or downloading content.

What is a Facebook ad set?

Ad sets are where the magic of audience targeting, budgeting, and scheduling takes place. Within an ad set, you can define who sees your ads (audience targeting), how much money you want to spend (budget), and when your ads should run (schedule). You can create multiple ad sets within a single campaign to test different target audiences, budgets, and schedules.

For example, a campaign to promote a new fashion line might have separate ad sets for different customer segments, like one targeting high-fashion enthusiasts and another targeting budget-conscious shoppers.

Best naming conventions for Facebook ad sets

Effective naming conventions for your ad sets will save you time and confusion, especially when you are managing multiple campaigns and ad sets. Include key details like the target audience, geographical location, ad type, and date range in the ad set name. This practice helps you quickly identify and analyze the performance of different ad sets.

A good naming convention might be “SpringSale_Over50_Women_US_March2021,” clearly detailing the campaign’s focus, target demographic, location, and time frame.

What is a Facebook ad?

A Facebook ad is the actual creative content that people see on their Facebook feeds or other placements. This can include images, videos, text, and interactive elements. Each ad belongs to an ad set and should align with the overarching campaign objective.

For instance, a Facebook ad for a local bakery promoting a new pastry might include a mouth-watering image of the product, a catchy description, and a call-to-action like "Order Now."


6 Types of Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads Manager offers a variety of ad types, including:

  • Image ads: Simple, straightforward ads with compelling visuals. They contain a single image.
  • Video ads: Engaging ads using video content, where the goa could be video views, click-through rates or conversions.
  • Carousel ads: Multiple images or videos in a single ad for users to swipe through.
  • Slideshow ads: Lightweight video ads created from a series of still images.
  • Collection ads: Ads that showcase multiple products, allowing users to browse and purchase directly from the ad.
  • Instant Experience ads: Full-screen ad experiences that open after a user taps on an ad.
a cell phone with a facebook page carousel slider ad

Each type serves different marketing purposes and engagement levels, and has different placement options, offering flexibility in how you present your brand and products.

What's the difference between a campaign and an ad set?

The difference between a Facebook campaign and an ad set lies in their roles within the advertising structure. A campaign is the overarching container that defines the primary objective of your advertising efforts, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.

The campaign's objective guides the strategy and determines how success is measured. It sets the stage for the types of ads that will be used and the overall goal they aim to achieve.

In contrast, an ad set operates under a campaign and is where more specific targeting decisions are made. Ad sets allow advertisers to segment their audience, allocate daily budgets, set schedules, and define bid strategies. While a campaign dictates what you want to achieve, ad sets focus on how to reach the intended audience effectively.

For instance, within a single campaign aimed at generating leads, you might have different ad sets targeting various demographics, locations, or interests, each with a tailored approach to engage that specific segment.

What's the difference between a Facebook ad and an ad set?

A Facebook ad and an ad set serve distinct purposes within the advertising framework. An ad set is a middle layer between the campaign and the individual ads, where you define the targeting criteria, audience size, daily budget, schedule, and bidding settings.

It groups ads together based on shared targeting parameters, allowing for organized and strategic distribution of resources across different audience segments.

On the other hand, a Facebook ad is the actual creative unit that users interact with, consisting of elements like images, videos, text, and calls to action. Ads are the visible representation of your campaign's objective and are housed within ad sets. They are the final output that delivers the message to the audience.

While ad sets organize how and to whom these messages are shown, the ads themselves are crafted to resonate with the target audience, encouraging them to act in line with the campaign’s overarching goal.

What's the difference between a campaign and a Facebook ad?

The campaign level is the broadest level in Facebook's ad structure, establishing the goal or objective of your advertising efforts, like driving traffic or increasing engagement. It sets the direction and purpose for the ads that will be created and is reflective of the larger marketing strategy.

Conversely, a Facebook ad is the individual piece of content that users see on their feeds or within Facebook properties. It is the creative expression of the campaign's objective, designed to capture attention and elicit a response from the target audience.

Ads are the end product of the campaign's strategy, embodying the message that needs to be communicated to achieve the desired action from viewers. While the campaign provides the strategic framework, Facebook ads directly engage with users and work to fulfill the campaign’s objectives.

How to Create the Ideal Facebook Ad Account Structure

The ideal Facebook ad account structure involves organizing your campaigns by their marketing objective, segmenting your ad sets by audience targeting, and creating specific ads that resonate with these audiences.

Maintain clarity and organization by using consistent naming conventions and keeping track of performance metrics for continuous optimization. A well-organized account structure ensures that you can effectively manage and scale your advertising efforts as your business grows.

Need Help with Your Facebook Ads?

Want to improve your advertising campaigns and not sure how to get that ROAS higher? You need to work with an expert that has experience in your niche, with your target audience and budget.

Mayple’s community of top marketing experts and Facebook ads agencies can provide the support you need. We offer seasoned professionals who specialize in creating and optimizing Facebook ad campaigns to maximize return on ad spend (ROAS) and achieve your marketing objectives.

Why spend hours trying to find the right expert? Use Mayple to get matched with the perfect expert or paid advertising agency, tailored to your specific needs and advertising goals.