Facebook Campaign Objectives Explained (And How To Choose What’s Right for Your Campaign)

By Chris Shaffer •  Updated: 02/08/21 •  14 min read

Once you have set up ads on Facebook a few different times, it does get a lot easier. There is however, one area that seems to give people trouble no matter how many times they said that the ads.

What we're talking about today is how to choose the correct campaign objectives and buying type for your next Facebook ad.

They give you a ton of different options  during the ad set up stage and we're going to dive into each variation and figure out when the right time is to use each one inside of your business.

 If you've been struggling to get your Facebook ads set up, and you’ve gotten stuck here in the past, you're going to want to read on.

Choosing The Correct Buying Type For Your Facebook Ad

The first decision we have to make one worth sitting through Facebook ad campaign is to choose which “  buying type”  we are going to use.

 Facebook gives us two basic options that we can choose from and we'll be diving into the pros and cons of both of them below. 


By default, most advertising platforms including Facebook ads use what's called an ads auction. 

This is the default option when you go to create a new Facebook ad campaign and essentially the way that it works is, if you and I would like to advertise to the same person, the “ most relevant” ad will win.

Now obviously,  the trick here is in what determines relevance. Facebook uses a combination of factors including how much you are willing to spend, your remaining budget, your ad score, and response rates to your ads ( as a few of the factors that we know about) in order to determine who should win the auction.

 At the end of the day, it's not about who is willing to pay the most, although being willing to pay more than your competition can't ever hurt.

 When you run an auction style campaign, you can't really tell Facebook how much you are willing to spend for specific actions, such as Impressions, because the amount you pay will be based on the auction.

Pros of Using The Facebook Ads Auction

Facebook uses the ads auction as a default for a reason, not only does it lead to a better user experience, but it often leads to a better ads experience for both The Advertiser and the user.

 When you use this structure you have access to more campaign objectives and you don't need to set a commitment or minimum budget towards reaching a specific set of audiences like you do with reach or frequency campaigns.

 You have the ability to use things such as lifetime budget and you have significantly more overall budget flexibility, with the ability to do things like create new ads, pause, delete, or edit add groups or creative at any point. 

Cons of Using The Facebook Ads Auction

Because your cost per result and cost per thousand impressions (CPM)  don't come at a fixed or specific rate, because the amount you pay will be based on the competitiveness of the people you are targeting within the Facebook ads ecosystem, you won't know your exact cost beforehand.

 One day, a conversion may cost you two or three dollars and the next day it could cost you seven or eight if a competitor launches a new ad.

Reach and Frequency

Reach and frequency buying types allow you to plan and buy space in advance and more accurately predict how those campaigns will perform, even before they run.

 At its core, this buying type is designed to offer much more predictable delivery of reach and Impressions, although Facebook doesn't guarantee the exact number of impressions or the total reach of the campaigns. 

Pros of Using Reach and Frequency

There are a few Main benefits to using something like a reach and frequency buying type, vs the standard at auction.

 The first is going to be if you're looking to do what's called sequenced delivery.  If you would like to show a series of ads ( with up to 50 different creatives)  any specific order and guarantee that they're seeing a specific order, you're going to want to use the reach and frequency buying type.

 Additionally if you're trying to pre-plan the exact amount you're going to spend or would like to reach a large number of people across a large geographic area and your concern is more related to them seeing your ad and interacting with it or doing something specific, reach and frequency is probably the buying type for you

Cons of Using Reach and Frequency

While Facebook does not require you to have an established minimum spend to use the regen frequency buying type, you do have a preset amount that you are essentially required to spend, based on the number of people you would like to reach and the number of times that you would like to reach them.

Essentially, while it may look like a cheaper option than using the auction… unless you are just trying to raise overall brand awareness, something that I never recommend unless you have the budget of Tide laundry detergent, you may want to consider using the standard auction buying type. 

Additionally, when you are looking at using the reach and frequency Vine type, you don't have as broad of a selection of campaign objectives as you do when you use the standard deduction.

Our Take On Which To Use

For the vast majority of people advertising within the Facebook ecosystem, the standard option of the buying auction is probably the best way to go.

 Not only does it offer you more options in terms of campaign objectives and greater control, but you're much more likely to get  the results you're looking for, unless you really need to show ads in a very specific order.

Choosing the Right Campaign Objective For Your Facebook Ads

 Now that we have selected our buying type, it's time to move on to choosing the campaign objective for Facebook ads.  

Keep in mind, that if you chose to go with the reach and frequency buying type that you will have fewer options to choose from in terms of the campaign objectives, but they still mean the same thing.

Making sure to choose the correct campaign objective from the beginning Is actually a critical part of the ad creation process. It's important to understand exactly what the goal is for your ads before you enter this section, so take a few minutes to jot that down.


The first objective type that you will see when you go to create a new Facebook ads campaign is what Facebook refers to as the awareness objectives. 

 If your goal is to generate Buzz or interest about your product, but  you aren't necessarily concerned with optimizing your cost per sale, using one of the two awareness objectives may be what you're looking for

Brand Awareness:

if your goal is simply to increase people's overall awareness of your  product or service this may be the campaign objectives that you want to choose. 

When you choose the brand awareness objective, Facebook will prioritize people likely to pay attention to your ad, over things like interactions, comments, and click-through rates.


As the name implies if you choose the Reach campaign goal Facebook's algorithm will prioritize simply showing your and putting in front of people. 

Unlike the brand awareness goal, it's about bringing in front of as many people in your target audience as possible, whether they're likely to pay attention to the ad or not.

 Generally speaking,  I would suggest using the brand awareness objective, if you're choosing to use one of the awareness objective types,  because it's more likely to result in targeting the right people, rather than just any people.


The campaign objectives underneath the consideration heading our objectives that are designed to get people to think about your business or seek more information. 

These objectives are really designed  4 products that are harder to sell, meaning they have a longer lead cycle, or if you think your customer is not quite at a buying stage and needs a bit more information before they're ready to actually consider one of the conversion objectives.


The first campaign objective you will find under the consideration section is traffic in as any way imply if you choose this as your campaign objective Facebook is going to try to Target people that will go to your website by clicking the link in the ad.

 It's important to keep in mind that when you select this as your campaign injective Facebook isn't necessarily looking for people that are going to be filling out forms or making a purchase on your website, there's simply looking for people who are likely to click on your link.

 If you would prefer that Facebook targets people that are likely to convert on your site, you're going to need to use one of the conversion objectives below.


If you choose the engagement objective for your campaign, the Facebook algorithm is going to prioritize putting your hand in front of people who are likely to interact with the post inside of the ecosystem.

 This could mean finding people who are more likely to comment, put a 🙂 or other Emoji, respond to an event, or do something such as like your page.

 This objective is most useful if you were trying to boost the overall reach of a specific post Beyond its standard organic reach.

 It can also be extremely useful if you are trying to build retargeting audiences, such as people who are consuming your videos, that you can use to Target with conversion ads later down the line.

App Installs 

If you aren't actively marketing an app for mobile devices, you can likely skip this campaign objective all together. 

As the name implies, this campaign objective is designed specifically for people who are trying to secure more installations of their apps via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 

Video Views

You choose the video views objective, Facebook will prioritize showing your Add to people who are most likely to actually watch a significant chunk of your video. This is especially useful, similarly to the engagement objective, if you're trying to build a list of people who can send your content to retarget with conversion as at a later time.

 One thing to keep in mind is that Facebook generally doesn't generally optimize for completions with this and what they are looking for and what you will most likely notice is that they will be optimizing for 3 second or ThruPlay Video views.

Lead Generation

While most marketers would consider lead generation to be a customer conversion, Facebook keeps this at objective inside of the consideration column of the campaign creation screen. 

 Essentially what you're doing when you select this campaign objective is you're going to be encouraging people to give you their information in exchange for something related to your product or to sign up for newsletters.

One important distinction and one reason Facebook may leave this inside of  the consideration section, is because you're generally going to be required to use Facebook lead capture system, meaning the traffic is not leaving Facebook and heading to your website. 


As a name would imply, if you choose the messages objective  Facebook is going to be prioritizing your ads do we put in front of people who are more likely to send you messages either via Facebook Messenger, direct messages on Instagram, or the new WhatsApp business integration.

 Of all the different campaign optimization options, inside of the consideration column, this is the one that is closest to an actual conversion and allows you to communicate directly with the customer via one of the messaging platforms mentioned above.


if your objective with your ad is to get people to actually buy a product or if you're trying to get them to fill out a form on your own site ( and not inside a Facebook)  you're generally going to be selecting one of the conversion objectives.

 In fact, unless you have a specific reason to keep people inside of the Facebook ecosystem or you're using something like the video views objective to create retargeting on this is for later, virtually every ad you set up in the Facebook ads ecosystem will have a conversion objective.


The generic conversion objective is going to be the most commonly used when you're setting up your Facebook ads.

It's useful for finding people within your audience who were going to be doing anything from making a purchase on your website to opting in for your newest shiniest lead magnet on your website.

 In order to use this properly you're going to need to have either the Facebook pixel or the new Facebook SDK  installed on your website and having an understanding of what Facebook calls “custom conversions” and how to set them up is useful as well. 

a common use of the conversion objective would be driving people to your e-commerce website in order to make a purchase on the site itself.  

When you select the conversion injective you would be able to optimize either for the purchase itself or for something like a subscription if you offer recurring purchases on your website. 

Catalog Sales

A slight variation of the generic conversion objective, designed specifically for e-commerce businesses, is the catalog sales objective.

 In order to utilize a subjective type you do need to connect your stories catalog to Facebook ads and upload your product feed.

 By doing this, you are able to put product ads directly in front of customers that load with details from your product catalog, including things like pricing and availability.

 This campaign objective is extremely useful if you are trying to upsell or cross-sell products that previous customers may not have purchased in their last visit to your site. 

Store Traffic

The store traffic objective is designed for people with brick-and-mortar businesses and that are trying to drive in-store sales from people in their target audience that are nearby to one of their locations.

 If you don't have a physical retail location, it's safe to say you can skip this one.

Our Suggestion for Choosing Your Campaign Objective

As I mentioned above the vast majority of your advertising campaigns are likely to involve some sort of a conversion objective.

 Whether you're driving traffic to your site to get leads or you're going to directly after the sale, the conversion objective is going to be used most of the time.

 I would say about 95% of every campaign that I've set up inside of Facebook ads over the last 10 plus years has involvedUnderstan using a conversion objective ( either the direct conversion objective or the catalog sales objective).

 unless you have a specific reason, such as you have a mobile app that you were trying to get installs for, to use one of the other campaign objectives it's almost always going to be conversions.

The one caveat to that, as mentioned above, is if we are trying to build a retargeting list for later on based on people who have engaged with our ads or watched our videos.

In that specific case we're going to use the post engagement type.

This is a slightly more advanced tactic and involves knowing a little bit more about Facebook ads, so I say when in doubt go with conversions.

Chris Shaffer

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.