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A Comprehensive Guide: How to Optimize the Creative of your Meta Catalog Ads – with examples (2024)

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The product feed (or product catalog) is fast becoming one of the most important ad units for Meta. Not only does your product feed power your dynamic ads (DPA, DABA) but it is also used to run your Facebook Shop — an increasingly profitable sales channel.

As more and more brands focus on their product catalog, one question comes up repeatedly — how do I get more control over the design of my catalog ad creatives?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that. 

Each industry, each brand is different.

This means that no one design or message will work for everyone.

I would suggest starting with any one design that you feel will resonate with your audience, and then continuously iterating and testing this against other designs. 

Here are some examples to help you decide which kind of template may work best for your brand. All examples in this post have been created for real brands through Socioh.

Socioh is the industry leader in dynamic catalog advertising and product feeds.

Our flagship product — the Branded Catalog — offers unparalleled control over feed image optimization. We specialize in creating highly targeted ad experiences and encouraging conversion by showing the most relevant message to each customer segment.

Socioh’s Smart Switch feature is a great way to test designs and messaging without losing campaign optimizations.

1. Use lifestyle, or multiple images in catalog ads

Most eCommerce websites and product pages feature a plain product image with a white background as the primary image.

This is a common ‘best practice’ to keep the buyer’s focus on the product.

When the brand runs a dynamic ad on Meta, this first image is sent to Meta via the product feed to be featured in the ad.

However, ads — especially apparel and accessory ads — often perform better if the shopper can see how the product would look worn. And even better if the shopper can see the product from different angles.

Apps like Socioh can replace this lead product image with a different image. You can even upload images from Dropbox or your computer to be used in your catalog ads. Learn more.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Accessory brand Burga makes beautiful phone cases, but these did not show to their best advantage in the brand’s dynamic ads. 

A carousel ad of phone cases with plain white backgrounds
Plain feed ad by Burga

By including the lifestyle photo of the product in use, they were able to significantly improve their CTR (click-through rate).

The black background of this ad was also helpful in making it stand out in the predominantly light-colored feed.

A 2-image template with a dark background featuring a lifestyle image & a product image of a phone case plus the brand logo.
Catalog ad by Burga - designed via Socioh

See more examples of dynamic ads using lifestyle images.

2. Include customer reviews in catalog ads

Nothing is quite as compelling as an honest customer testimonial. 

Socioh integrates with multiple review apps — Yotpo, Judge.me, Reviews.io, Junip — so you can automatically include real 5-star customer reviews with each product. Or you can simply upload a .csv file to Socioh, and we’ll take care of the rest.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Pet brand 2 Hounds Design sells high-quality, beautifully designed pet harnesses, collars, and leashes, but their plain catalog ads were uninspiring. 

A carousel ad of dog harnesses with plain white backgrounds
Plain feed ad by 2 Hounds Designs

The brand completely transformed its product feed by adding an image of pets wearing the products, accompanied by glowing customer testimonials.

A 2-image green-colored template by pet accessories brand a cute dog wearing a harness & product image. Includes customer reviews.
Catalog ad by 2 Hounds Design - designed via Socioh

3. Automatically replace the background of your product images

When it comes to ads, a little color can add a lot of visual interest. This is crucial in a heavily crowded feed where 100s of other images compete for your shopper’s attention.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Socially responsible label Yevu dramatically changed their catalog ads by replacing the white backgrounds of their product images with a quirky eye-catching pattern.

A dynamic ad by a sustainable clothing brand with unique on-brand backgrounds to complement the product. Includes price.
Catalog ad by Yevu - designed via Socioh

With Socioh, you can automatically remove the plain backgrounds of your product photos and replace them with on-brand designs or colors. See how.

Background removal can be especially powerful for brands whose products can look undifferentiated if advertised without any branding or messaging.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Tacventure uses a muti-image template but replaces the plain white background of the main image with stunning nature shots to highlight the adventurous personality of the brand.

A 4-image template by an adventure brand with a lifestyle photo in focus & three product images beside showing different angles of the backpack.
Catalog ad by Tacventure - designed via Socioh

4. Create visually arresting catalog ads with rotations

One way of creating visual interest is by including different elements or colors in each card of your carousel ad. 

Socioh allows for multiple design variations in a catalog. The products ‘rotate’ through these variations, so the shopper sees multiple designs in the same catalog.

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Rotating colors or elements can be used to make the ad visually more appealing and rotating text can be used to highlight different quotes, messages, or brand promises.

<blue-low-highlight>Examples:<blue-low-highlight>

i) Rotating Backgrounds

Healthspan Vitamins created a gorgeous catalog with striking rotating backgrounds and mapped each product’s key features onto the product feed.

A dynamic ad template for a pharma brand with vitamins on top of custom gradients with unique selling points overlaid.
Catalog ad by Healthspan - designed via Socioh

ii) Rotating Social Proof

Sometimes, a brand may want to highlight social proof other than reviews. For instance, mentions in prestigious publications can encourage faster conversion. 

In this case, you could consider rotating hand-selected quotes through your catalog.

When Forbes, People, and InStyle magazine have been raving about you, you really can’t afford to leave even one quote out. Noli Yoga’s design absolutely killed it for them.

A dynamic ad template by athleisure brand with lifestyle images next to changing PR quotes, discounted pricing & coupon codes
Catalog ad by Noli - designed via Socioh

iii) Rotating USPs or Key Features

Innovative workout wear Popflex rotates USPs like ‘Anti-cameltoe’, ‘Pockets’, and ‘Built-in shorts’ in their reviews template. The subtle pop of color and rotating icons help draw the eye to the key selling points.

A dynamic ad template by athleisure brand using models wearing skorts with changing reviews, unique selling points
Catalog ad by Popflex - designed via Socioh


5. Highlight your sale, discount, or promotion

Highlight your sales, discounts, and promotions directly on your product feed images. 

Facebook frames do allow for some discount messaging but with very limited control. 

With catalog templates, your discount can be seamlessly integrated into your ad design. It can also be combined with other catalog design styles like reviews, background removal, lifestyle images, rotations etc. 

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Sports brand Rugby Stuff used a 2-image cut-price template with the 2nd image as the background. Splitting the background into 2 parts further helped this ad stand out.

A dynamic ad template by rugby equipment brand with 2 images, one of them in the background. Shows cut-price and discount,
Catalog ad by Rugby Stuff- designed via Socioh

Designer men’s clothing brand Orttu uses a coupon code to incentivize hesitant buyers. This is a great way to encourage cart abandoners to complete their purchase.

A dynamic ad template by men's designer clothing using models wearing products, with brand logo, sale messaging & coupon code
Catalog ad by Orttu- designed via Socioh

6. Stay relevant by using a season-specific design for your catalog ads

Showcase seasonal products in relevant designs. Use a ‘summer special’ catalog for swimsuits or a snowflake design for winter wear. This helps improve click-through-rates by keeping your ads fresh and relevant.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

A great example of seasonal templates can be found in Boutique 1861’s product feed.

Co-founder Simon Touzin has found the perfect way to use his design experience to enhance his store’s ads.

He creates beautiful season-specific template frames in Photoshop and imports them into Socioh. He then uses Socioh’s automation capabilities to add dynamic variables like inventory or sale price when relevant.

Boutique 1861’s spring template is light and floral.

A dynamic ad template by clothing bouqtique using spring-themed custom designed frames with inventory automation overlaid
Catalog ad by Boutique 1861 - designed via Socioh

The summer template still uses a floral theme but is brighter and features the words ‘Summer 2023’.

A dynamic ad template by clothing bouqtique using summer-themed, floral frames with inventory automation overlaid
Catalog ad by Boutique 1861- designed via Socioh

The Autumn template moves to Fall colors and imagery.

A dynamic ad template by clothing bouqtique using autumn-themed, custom designed frames with inventory automation overlaid
Catalog ad by Boutique 1861 - designed via Socioh

While the winter template includes a warm, wooden backdrop, and fir leaves that are reminiscent of Christmas.

A dynamic ad template by clothing boutique using winter-themed, custom frames with inventory automation overlaid
Catalog ad by Boutique 1861 - designed via Socioh

Update your designs without losing learnings

Boutique 1861 is able to schedule automatic updates to their Branded Catalog without any loss of catalog learnings or optimizations through Socioh’s Smart Switch feature.

7. Include retail holidays and events in your catalog designs

Christmas, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Graduation — update your catalog for each Holiday or event. Add discounts details or showcase gift ideas.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Apparel brand Less 17 used a Boxing Day template with mapped prices for the holiday.

A dynamic ad template by luxe clothing brand using product images with Boxing Day sale messaging, discount & coupon code
Catalog ad by Less17 - designed via Socioh

Keskisen Kello chose a background-removed template with a black & red theme, and discounted mapped prices for Black Friday. 

A dynamic ad template by watch brand using dark backgrounds behind product images with Black Friday messaging & cut price
Catalog ad by Keskisen Kello - designed via Socioh

But drinkware brand Brumate went one step ahead and took full advantage of Socioh’s Smart Switch by using a different template every day for the BFCM (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) weekend. See our case study for details.

Smart Loop by Brumate for BFCM Weekend - via Socioh

After the deal was over, they reverted to their regular catalog design.

8. Highlight affordability by including BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later)

Many brands today offer the option of Buy Now, Pay Later prices. Including BNPL in your catalog ads can be a great way to encourage the price-conscious shopper to complete a purchase.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

Under Armour maps the product name and BNPL price in this stunning catalog ad.

A dynamic ad template by sportswear brand Under Armour using custom backgrounds showing product name, price & BNPL offers
Catalog ad by Under Armour - designed via Socioh

<blog-well-block>Socioh automatically calculates the BNPL price for each product and maps it onto your catalog ad.<blog-well-block>

9. Add frames & overlays to your catalog ads

Sometimes a frame or an overlay is all you need to improve your product’s fitting or revitalize your product feed.

<blue-low-highlight>Example:<blue-low-highlight>

This minimalist design complements Perfect White Tee’s timeless collections, while also removing the unsightly white strips that usually accompany vertical product images in a catalog carousel ad.

A dynamic ad template by premium clothing brand perfect white tee using lifetysle images on minimally framed layout & collection name
Catalog ad by Perfect White Tee - designed via Socioh

Making your Catalog Ads stand out

These are just a few of the ways that brands are designing their product feeds.

For visually undifferentiated products like helmets, sports rackets, or headphones where the shopper can’t easily tell the difference between a premium product and a generic brand, I would recommend:

  • Adding your logo or brand name
  • Rotating backgrounds to draw attention
  • Title mapping for easy identification

 Here are some <blue-low-highlight>examples:<blue-low-highlight>

A comparison of bike brand Specialized's dynamic ads showing plain images on the left and Socioh's designs on the right
Before/after comparison of Specialized's Catalog ad - designed via Socioh
A comparison of clothing brand True Classic's dynamic ads showing plain images on the left and Socioh's designs on the right
Before/after comparison of True Classic's Catalog ad - designed via Socioh
A comparison of outdoor decor brand Bio Stefan's dynamic ads showing plain images on the left and Socioh's designs on the right
Before/after comparison of Bio Stefan's Catalog ad - designed via Socioh

The Socioh team is happy to work with you to provide custom solutions for your brand. Here are a couple of examples of catalogs where we have implemented custom solutions.

For Enso Rings, Socioh mapped the correct category name (Disney, Lord of the Rings etc.) to each design and also implemented a solutions where the brand could map color swatches to each product.

A comparison of ticket sales company Enso Rings' dynamic ads showing default images on the left and Socioh's designs on the rights.
Before/after comparison of Enso Rings' Catalog ad - designed via Socioh

Event Tickets was an unusual case. There were no actual product images to showcase as they sell tickets to concerts and events. Here Socioh took images of the venue where the event was going to be held and mapped all relevant details on that.

A comparison of ticket sales company Event Tickets Center's dynamic ads showing default images on the left and Socioh's designs on the rights.
Before/after comparison of Event Ticket Center's Catalog ad - designed via Socioh

Interested in seeing if Socioh can help you enhance your catalog ads? Sign up for a no-obligation demo now.

is a digital advertising platform for eCommerce brands. Our Branded Catalog is the industry leader in dynamic catalog advertising and product feeds.

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