A Guide to Flexible Ad Format

If you’ve used Dynamic Creative to dynamically create multiple versions of your ads, you understand the basic concept of Flexible Ad Format. They function very similarly, with some minor differences.

Let’s take a closer look at what Flexible Ad Format is and how you might use it. Consider this your guide to what is becoming an increasingly important feature.

What Is It?

If you’re an old school advertiser who desires control, Flexible Ad Format may not be for you. But, if you’re able to let go of that control and lean into automation and optimization, this is a time-saving option.

Flexible Ad Format allows you to submit up to 10 images or videos for a single ad (or more when using groups). Carousel versions will also be created from the images you submitted. Meta’s ad delivery system will then automatically determine which format to show people to get the best response based on placement and audience.


The primary benefit of Flexible Ad Format is more automation and less effort on the part of the advertiser.

In the typical scenario, an advertiser might have ad creative ideas using a single image, video, or carousel. There isn’t a preference for one format or the other, so you’d create separate ads to see how each option performs. You might also customize by placement since not all formats work with all placements.

With Flexible Ad Format, you can submit multiple images and videos for a single ad. There’s no need (or ability) to customize the ad by placement. Meta’s systems will automatically optimize the ad format to show the right version by placement and audience.

Less effort, less guessing, and more automation.

Campaign Objectives

This appears to be a bit of a moving target. When Flexible Ad Format was introduced in November of 2023, it was only available for the Traffic objective. I know because I wrote a blog post about it and found that requirement to be odd.

As of today, Meta’s documentation indicates that Flexible Ad Format is available for two campaign objectives: App Promotion or Sales.

Flexible Ad Format

If you use the Sales objective, make sure to toggle off “Use a Catalog” when creating the campaign. Flexible Ad Format will not be an option when this is turned on.

Use a Catalog

Also, when using the Sales objective, make sure to select either the Website or App conversion location within the ad set.

Conversion Location

Note that the “Website and App” conversion location does not qualify for Flexible Ad Format.

Finally, there’s a bit of a contradiction as I write this. I noted at the top that this feature was initially available for the Traffic objective, but that Meta’s documentation has been updated to reflect its availability only for Sales and App Promotion. Well, I’m still able to select Flexible Ad Format when using the Traffic objective. Although, it seems to work more like Dynamic Creative.

My guess is that this is temporary while we’re in a transition period. During June of 2024, Meta began alerting users that Dynamic Creative was going away and you should use Flexible Ad Format instead.

dynamic creative

The caveat: Dynamic Creative was only going away for the Sales and App Promotion objectives.

Dynamic Creative

So, if we take Meta’s documentation literally, this is what they want us to do:

  • Use Flexible Ad Format for Sales and App Promotion objectives
  • Use Dynamic Creative for all other objectives


Within Ad Setup under Format, select Flexible. As described, Meta will show your ad in the format they predict may perform best.

Flexible Ad Format

Under Ad Creative, you can upload or select up to 10 images or videos (or a combination of both images and videos).

Flexible Ad Format

Go ahead and upload or select a few images. Then click the Add Media dropdown again to upload or select a few videos.

When you’re done, you’ll see thumbnails for all of the images and videos you’ve selected. Click “Edit.”

Flexible Ad Format

You can choose to crop the images, if necessary. In most cases, you should leave this alone. The image may be cropped or expanded automatically, depending on the placement.

Flexible Ad Format

You can also choose to crop and trim the videos.

Flexible Ad Format

You may want to trim videos down to 15 seconds so that they’ll qualify for all placements.

Then add primary text, headline, description, and CTA button, as desired. Note that the multiple options here aren’t technically part of Flexible Ad Format. Text Variations is a standard option that you can use if you’d like.

Creative Groups

You may also have the ability to create ad creative groups.

Per Meta’s description:

Create up to 3 groups and organize creative elements into common themes. We’ll show each person a tailored ad from the group they’re most likely to respond to.

Each creative group can contain of up to 10 images and videos, five primary text options, five headlines, and five descriptions. You are also able to customize the URL by group.

Flexible Ad Format Groups

So, in all, three creative groups could include up to 30 images and videos, 45 text variations, and three URLs. Meta suggests that you might highlight different themes or benefits for each one.

Preview Variations

You can preview all of the potential variations of your ads. You could preview all variations in the right panel. Filter by placement or format.

Flexible Ad Format

I find the Advanced Preview a bit easier to use since I can see more variations in one view. Click “Advanced Preview.”

Once again, you can filter by placement and ad format.

Flexible Ad Format

Recall that one of the formats is Carousel. Even though you didn’t create a carousel, several versions are generated for you.

Flexible Ad Format

Images and videos are automatically cropped or expanded to fit placements.

Flexible Ad Format

These previews truly are for informational purposes. There’s no way to edit or remove one of the versions, at least at this moment. I found it strange that one of the carousel options doesn’t display primary text in the preview.

If you see anything that just doesn’t look right because of the cropping or adjustment in a placement, you may need to use a different image or video that works universally.

Compared to Dynamic Creative

This is something that I’ve struggled with from the start. What’s the difference?

Let’s consider the definitions of each of these features.

Dynamic Creative:

Dynamic creative takes multiple media, such as images and videos, and multiple ad components, such as images, videos, text, audio and calls-to-action, and then mixes and matches them in new ways to improve your ad performance. It allows you to automatically create personalized creative variations for each person who views your ad, with results that are scalable.

This feature was launched in 2017 and it is turned on within the ad set. As noted earlier, Dynamic Creative is no longer available for the Sales and App Promotion objectives.

Flexible Ad Format:

The flexible ad format is designed to help you automatically optimize your ad format to show people what we predict they’re most likely to respond to based on the specific placement and audience. When you select Flexible as your ad format, you can select up to 10 images and videos in a single ad campaign, and the ad delivery system will automatically determine what media or media combination, such as single image, video or carousel, to show to people.

This feature was introduced in 2023 and is turned on within the ad. It is only available for the Sales and App Promotion objectives.

Dynamic Creative documentation also specifically mentions providing ad copy variations for primary text, headline, and description — as well as CTA buttons. Prior to Dynamic Creative, providing text variations was not an option.

Flexible Ad Format documentation doesn’t mention text. But, of course, text variations are now standard for all ads. You could technically provide 10 images and up to five text variations when using Flexible Ad Format. The focus here, though, is on the ad format.

In terms of features, there are two primary unique differences:

  • Dynamic Creative allows you to select multiple CTA buttons
  • Flexible Ad Format generates carousel variations based on the images you provided

Otherwise, most of the differences are subtleties, nuance, and presentation. In either case, you could use a single ad to submit up to 10 images and videos and Meta will automatically and dynamically deliver versions to get you the best results.

Viewing Results

There is official documentation from Meta on viewing results when using Dynamic Creative. Unless I’m missing something, such a page does not exist yet for Flexible Ad Format.

A breakdown by Dynamic Creative Element option is available for segmenting your results by submitted image, video, text, headline, description, or CTA button.

Breakdown by Dynamic Creative Element

You should technically be able to do this when using Flexible Ad Format, too. There have been some issues getting the breakdown by image and video to work. If it doesn’t work for you, I don’t believe it is intentional — it’s a likely bug.

Another way to get deeper insight into results with Dynamic Creative is to take the following steps:

  1. Click to edit your ad
  2. Select “Share” below the Advanced Preview button
  3. Select “Facebook post with comments”

You’ll then see comments on your top 10 combinations based on engagement.

Unfortunately, this same approach does not seem to work for Flexible Ad Format. Unlike the breakdowns, this may be intentional.

I do think that the breakdowns will eventually work. Otherwise, you will struggle to get deep insights into what image, video, carousel, or version is working best.

My Take

Whether or not Flexible Ad Format appeals to you depends heavily on your approach to advertising and what you think is important. I can see this in my feelings about it compared to what I felt about Dynamic Creative over the years.

If you demand control, you are unlikely to use Flexible Ad Format. If your goal is to find the best performing creative, this isn’t for you. If you have a deep distrust for “the algorithm,” I can’t imagine this is something that appeals to you.

If this description of a hypothetical advertiser sounds specific, it’s because that was me for about a decade. It’s exactly why I wasn’t a fan of Dynamic Creative.

But, I’m not the same advertiser anymore. My trust in Meta’s automation and optimization has improved. I now prefer algorithmic targeting over obsessing over reaching specific groups of people. And I limit my number of ad sets for things like targeting and optimization to give a single ad set more focus.

Flexible Ad Format now appeals to me because I prefer low-maintenance set up with one ad instead of multiple ads. I believe the weaknesses in automation and optimization exist, but they’re offset by the benefits.

And ultimately, I care less today about “finding a winner” with ad copy and creative than I ever have before. Instead of obsessively turning ads off and on based on small sample-sized, virtually meaningless results, I find it more efficient to give the algorithm the copy and creative and let it sort it out automatically.

That’s not a matter of right and wrong. But, I do believe that the camp you fall into will determine whether a feature like Flexible Ad Format is worth using.

How and When You Might Use It

Don’t overcomplicate this feature.

If you have very specific combinations of copy and creative that you want to use, create separate ads. That’s not the time for Flexible Ad Format.

If you have multiple relevant images and videos, but you don’t have any attachment to which are used the most or least, this is a good option for you. Especially if you have a spirit for adventure.

I’ve finally come around to Flexible Ad Format, and there are lots of reasons for that. First, it’s a matter of getting more comfortable with Meta’s automations, as described above. But, there’s also a matter of reaching the point of desperation with some advertising.

An example is that I had been trying for months, unsuccessfully, to promote my Cornerstone Advertising Tips lead magnet with ads. It was frustrating because I was getting leads for my Beginners lead magnet at a fraction of the price. But, I just couldn’t get this one to stick.

I tried multiple things. I’d give up. Then I’d come back and try something else. Eventually, I tried Flexible Ad Format.

I let go of my attachment to a single creative approach. The screenshots in this post actually feature some of the images I provided. Instead of obsessing over images, I used a filter on my phone and took a bunch of selfies.

A weird thing happened. I started seeing better results. It’s unlikely that there’s anything magical about those images. But, providing the algorithm a bunch of options and just getting out of its way can have benefits.

Your Turn

Do you use Flexible Ad Format?

Let me know in the comments below!