Facebook Ads in 2020

Facebook Ads in 2020 – What’s Going to Happen?

Author Jon Quinton 6 min read time

As the new decade starts, many advertisers will be reviewing and rethinking plans on how to develop strategies to continue growing their success on Facebook.

At the same time, many people will be casting their views on what will happen in one of the most unpredictable yet highly enjoyable channels available.

Within the context that nothing is ever predictable on Facebook, for the crack of it we thought we’d at least have a go at joining in and giving you our take on what we think might be round the corner in 2020.

Basic ad formats will still rule 

It’s actually been a while now since Facebook released a new ad format. With that being said, there’s still a fair amount of choice available and it’s all too tempting to try absolutely everything and get caught up in the latest and shiniest new format.

We found throughout 2019 that it was the basic ad formats (think single image, carousels, stories) that still formed the mainstay of success in our campaigns.

There’s still something great about a simple and striking single image ad or carousel to capture attention in the news feed. We don’t see this changing too much in 2020.

CPMs will rise 

It sounds kind of obvious, but as more and more advertisers come into the platform, costs will only continue to rise. In Q2 2019 Adstage reported a YOY increase in median CPM of 90%.

The exact rise you’ll see in your campaigns will of course depending on what you’re running, however you are almost certainly going to see a squeeze on your budgets. Ultimately this puts more emphasis on running efficient account structures and making every penny count – something that should be core to your approach anyway.

Rising CPM on Facebook Ads

In terms of where we’re likely to see the sharpest rises; it’s undoubtably going to be newsfeed placements as this is where almost everyone chooses to run their ads and therefore where competition is highest.

Keep an eye out for Adstage’s latest report to keep up to date with general costs on the platform.

Testing placements will be key

Following on from the above, this means that testing placements should be a critical part of your game plan.

With other placements typically being cheaper (stories, marketplace etc) you might be able to find that sweet placement where CPMs are far more acceptable whilst still delivering solid purchases.

Facebook Ads Placements

Unreliability will continue

Unfortunately, the general reliability of the platform didn’t improve a huge amount in 2019. With several large outages some would argue it got worse.

Given this trend, I believe that anyone advertising on Facebook needs to be aware of these issues when planning their campaigns. Taking one example where ads can get stuck in review for some time, planning ahead and getting your ads ready well in advance continues to pay off, particularly ahead of peak advertising windows.

In Q4 2019 Facebook launched a new status dashboard to publish known issues, albeit at a high level. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Sadly this isn’t a particularly positive point to include, but with a bit of pre-planning you can at least minimise any disruption to your campaigns.

Advertisers will need to go broader

Another big trend we saw picking up pace in 2019 was growing success from broader audiences. In Q4 and in particular over the black Friday weekend, larger lookalikes (5%+) absolutely killed it.

How broad you go will still depend largely on how much you are spending, but as a rule of thumb it definitely paid off to be a bit braver with going broader than you otherwise might have thought possible.

Broad Audiences Facebook

The core audience will change

With other platforms continuing to take a share of the market (keep your eyes on TikTok), the core audience on Facebook will likely continue to shift around as people more their personal interactions elsewhere.

As an example, we saw a huge amount of success in 2019 with older audiences on Facebook with a definite shift towards improved performance on Instagram for campaigns focused on younger audiences.

This is all part of the natural evolution of social, but definitely something anyone spending money on Facebook needs to be aware of. As you continue to run campaigns throughout the year, keep a close eye on performance by demographic and be ready to respond to any patterns you are seeing.

There’s never going to be a hard and fast rule here so let the numbers tell you what’s happening.

Branching out to new platforms

Perhaps a slightly odd point in a post about Facebook Ads, but following the thought above I think there’s huge merit in advertisers testing and getting to know other platforms.

Be that Snapchat, Pinterest or video ads on YouTube, having a clear idea of where you can gain additional ROAS or execute a plan B will be hugely valuable. Having all your eggs in one basket is never, ever a good thing so know where to go should you need a change in direction.

TikTok Ads

ROAS will still be there

Despite all the challenges advertising on Facebook can bring, there is definitely still success and solid returns to be had. The biggest change really is that things are getting harder, so having a deep understanding of the platform and all its nuances is more important than ever.

For those that keep their finger firmly on the pulse 2020 will be a great year and I’m sure there’ll be many interesting developments to come.

Here’s to another year in the wild west of social advertising!


Having been involved in digital marketing for over a decade, Jon set up Overdrive Digital in 2016. With extensive experience in both paid media and organic channels, Jon has worked with brands ranging from small startups to global businesses.