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Running Catalog Ads on Meta? Dont miss this underutilized ad creative

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Table of contents

Do you run catalog-based ads (DABA/DPA) for your brand on Meta? 

You probably also run static image ads.

What if I told you that you can combine the two creative formats and get the best of these ad units in one ad? 

In my experience, an intro card (with a catalog ad/product set) is the most underutilized creative format. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t heard anyone in the DTC marketing community talk about it — it practically prints money!

Using intro cards with your catalog ads helps set the right context

The reason why intro cards work when combined with product sets in your catalog is simple. 

This creative format uses learnings from your catalog (the same way DABA does) but also helps set the context using a static image so users have a frame of reference when they scroll through the catalog ad.

I’ve been testing this strategy with Socioh’s users, and am seeing this unit outperform both DABA and static ads in a number of accounts.

Let’s look a little more closely at the ad set up.

The ‘Intro card’ (first card) is a static image that sets the context for the other products in the carousel. 

These cards are great for setting the context for the product selection or collection on display. In the example below, the intro card anchors or annouces the product set being advertised — “Autumn Sweaters.”

An intro card sets the context for the product set being advertised on Meta
An intro card provides your shoppers context for  product set or collection

Practically speaking, this ad unit resembles how retail stores merchandise. An example is a display that highlights a collection with some featured items in it.

A retail store display advertising a "Suit Yourself" curation of merchandis handpicked from the store
A retail store display that highlights a featured collection

Essentially, you use the intro card to set the context about the products your shoppers are about to see in the carousel to follow. You can then select a product set, a particular selection of products you want to highlight, or all products in a particular category.

An ad showing an intro card and product set of "autumn sweaters"
The intro card "Autumn Sweaters" sets the context for the fall/halloween themed jumpers advertised

This offers an exceptionally curated experience for your shoppers and allows you to showcase products that answer a particular need. 

BONUS: It is hard to spy on these ads using the Meta ad library.

This is how an intro card + product set unit shows up in the ads library:

Meta Advantage: It’s not a static carousel ad, it’s dynamic

What sets this ad unit apart from others is that you don’t upload individual images for each card in the carousel, you attach a product set to it.

What’s the difference? 

Say you individually uploaded ten product images to your carousel ad, Meta would have no context to any of these images. 

However, in this creative format, you use a product set from a catalog that already has learnings. This means that Meta already knows whom to show the ad and what products to showcase for each specific user — in short, the ad is dynamic. 

Will this creative format work for your brand?

The short answer is yes! It’s an insanely effective (and, dare I say, easy) format to get right.

However, as with most ads, how effective it’ll be will depend on the quality of your intro card and the media you put in your product set in addition to the amount of learnings in your account and on your catalog.

A brand I work with has pivoted almost entirely to this format — with all their current ads running intro cards with product sets. 

You can see a partial snapshot of their account performance for the last 14 days below: 

Limited screenshot from a brand running intro cards with product sets, showing a 7 and 28-day ROAS
Partial snapshot of 7-and-28-day performance of intro card+product set ads in a customer's account

P.S. As an aside, this account’s first-party performance is impressively close to the numbers reported by Meta on a 7-day click window! This means this performance is as real as it gets. Also, the paid ads are driving 73% new customers so the nCAC is exceptional at those ROAS numbers.

How to set up this ad creative in your Meta account

The best part about the intro card + product card creative? 

The setup is really simple.

The only media you need are a static image to use as the intro card (1:1 ratio) and a product catalog. 

NOTE: While you can promote the store’s entire catalog, in our experience, this ad works best for curated product sets. 

Needless to say, the better the quality of the images in your product feed, the more successful your ad will be. 

TIP: Want more control over your catalog ads, showcase lifestyle images or create rule-and-collection-based automations? See how brands are using Socioh’s Branded Catalogs here.

Some additional details to pay attention to when setting up this ad type on Meta:

Objective: Remember, the Intro card isn’t supported by the catalog sales objective. So you’ll have to set up the campaign with a conversion objective. 

NOTE: Meta’s ASC campaign also supports this creative type.

Ad: While making the ad, select the option to fill carousel cards dynamically from a product set and then select the product set best suited for the intro card:

Select this setting in your conversion ad

Finally, upload the intro card, and you are done.

Setting up your Intro Card+Product set ad correctly on Meta Ads Manager

PRO TIP: Test a number of first cards with any product set; clone and test the same ad with multiple variations of the intro card featuring different images, messaging, and products. 

Want to try this ad format for your brand? Shoot me any questions you have.

I’m excited to hear about your results!

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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