Carousel ads were released almost two years ago… for those of you advertising regularly, that might make you feel old in Facebook Advertising years — it seems like just yesterday. Since then, a lot has been said about the power of carousel ads.

The reason these ad types are so attractive to brands who advertise products is because this format gives you the opportunity to showcase multiple products at one time – essentially creating a shopping atmosphere right inside your newsfeed.

Another beauty of carousel ads is that Facebook will automatically optimize the ad based on which image is producing more results. If one product in your ad is creating more clicks and conversions, Facebook will begin serving that image first in the carousel.

Facebook toted impressive results, quoting that carousel ads produce “20-30% lower cost-per click” upon their release to mobile.

Always the skeptics, we wanted to be sure of the commonly accepted truth that carousel ads are better for products.

As we commonly suggest, A/B testing all your Facebook ads is the best way to find what works best for your audience on Facebook.

Here’s what we set out to test:
The Test:
Run Carousel ads and Single Image ads to the same audience with the same budget and test which perform better across both desktop and mobile platforms.

We tested these across two brands which target two different demographics to be sure this wasn’t age/gender specific.

We ran these ads for 10 days with the same budget across all ad sets.

The Control:
The Audiences:
Brand 1: Targeting Men 35+

Brand 2: Targeting Women 20-44

The ad sets were targeted at demographical targeting that matched the brand’s customer base.

The Creative:

The headlines, body text, and descriptions were all constant across all ads.

For the images we created carousel ads featuring 5 products.

We then created single image ads with each of the 5 products.

The Results:
Brand 1:
Single Mobile: $0.36 CPC 2.76% CTR

Carousel Mobile: $0.37 CPC 2.06% CTR

Single Desktop: $0.83 CPC 1.48% CTR

Carousel Desktop: $0.86 CPC 1.34% CTR

Brand 2:
Single Mobile: $0.47 CPC 0.85% CTR

Carousel Mobile: $0.57 CPC 0.97% CTR

Single Desktop: $1.34 CPC 0.69%

Carousel Desktop $1.95 CPC 0.31%

The Conclusion:
We learned the following from our test:

Across the board, Single Image Ads produces a lower CPC than Carousel Ads.
In almost all cases single image ads had a better CTR.
Single image ads produced more product sales by a 3 to 1 ratio.
Single image ads also produced 25% more comments and likes as additional engagement.
While it is imperative to test results for your own brand (every audience is different) for these specific cases, single image ads outperformed carousel ads in all of the metrics we were tracking. By running this test, we have been able to build ads that we know our target audience will react more positively to.

Have you done similar tests for you brand? What’s working best for you? We’d love to hear in the comments below.