The Evolution of Facebook Ads Over the Years

On January 2 of last year, I blogged about the changes in Google Ads (Adwords) from the when it began in October of 2000 to the time of writing. That post was fairly popular, so I decided to go back down memory lane in the New Year again with a look at all the changes in Facebook Ads over the years.

Join me as we stroll down memory lane to take a look back at Facebook Ads over the years, taking note of when you entered on your own PPC journey.


Facebook as launched as a social media platform meant for Harvard University students and quickly become popular in other ivy league schools. “Flyers” are introduced as a way to offset the server costs. Primary advertisers were students and small companies such as movers or t-shirt companies. Here is what an ad looked like.


facebook screenshot_ad



Facebook’s advertising takes off, usually with CPM agreements. Some, like Apple, with a cost per group member agreement. Check out this Facebook Sales Deck for Starbucks!


Microsoft becomes the exclusive provider for banner ads and sponsored links.  JP Morgan Chase signs a one year contract to become the sole credit card advertiser on Facebook.


Facebook launches Facebook Ads (cue applause). It originally consisted of Business Pages, an ad platform and a user insights tool. The ad system initially focused on combing a company’s sponsored message in relation to a friend’s social action. These “Social Ads” appeared as sponsored content in the News Feed or in the ad space along the left side of the site.


Facebook introduces engagement ads as a way to keep users on the site.


Facebook starts to offer advanced ad targeting.  The full list included (cue drumroll):

  • Geo-targeting (location by country, state or city)
  • Demographics (age, gender)
  • Birthday (useful for promo-based campaigns)
  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Relationship status
  • Languages
  • Connections (users who are or are not yet connected to your Pages, Events, Group, or Application)
  • Friends of Connection
  • Keywords (any keyword that shows up in the user’s profile i.e. interests, favorite books/movies/TV shows, etc)


Facebook launches its mobile app (nothing noteworthy in the advertising world this year, but the mobile app is definitely worth mentioning)


Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories for Desktop (not the stories we know today) and Power Editor, may they both rest in peace.


This was an explosive year for Facebook with one billion users as well as the with the introduction of some of my favorites…promoted posts, mobile ads, retargeting, custom audiences and the acquisition of Instagram!


It just keeps getting better and better! Welcome lookalikesPartner Categories, conversion pixels and video ads, while removing redundancies such as Questions product for Pages and the online Offer product, as well as having to create separate ads for stories.


Facebook acquires WhatsApp. It also rolls out the campaign structure we know today of Campaigns –> Ad Sets –> Ads, carousel ads and the audience network.


This year ushered in Dynamic Product ads, Leads Ads, the updated Facebook pixel, and the integration of Instagram Ads in Power Editor or Ads Manager.


It was only a few years ago that Canvas Ads and Messenger Ads were introduced.


This year brought us the redesigned Delivery Insights Tool, split testing for ads, dynamic ads, collection ads and integration with Google Tag Manager.


Facebook makes Story Ads, Facebook Analytics and placements available to all advertisers while also updating Ads Manager again with side panel editing.

If this wasn’t enough, you can review all of the most recent updates to Facebook Ads as well as Facebook’s trends report for 2019. If you want more resources, check out our Facebook Big List and this crazy amazing list of over 845 Facebook stats.

Which innovation have you loved the most?  Did I miss yours?  Comment below to share your memories before and after that change!