Mobile usage has surpassed desktop.
Which means more people are heads-down while driving than ever before.
Despite that HUGE, largely untapped opportunity, mobile advertising has failed to truly take off.
But Facebook’s trying to change that with Canvas, a new mobile-only product that expertly weaves storytelling into new advertisements.
Here’s what it does, why it’s useful, and how to get started using it.
What is Facebook Canvas?
Canvas is described by Facebook as ‘an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products‘.
In English, that translates roughly into: use storytelling in ads = numbers go up.
At least, that’s what research collected by Psychology Today has shown:
- fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
- Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
- Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
- Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments which are based on a brand’s attributes.
Here’s how it works.
You scroll around on the News Feed until a brilliant ad catches your eye. You click, and a beautiful, full-screen page jumps up – instantly. The combination of captivating imagery, in addition to the interactive elements with video, image carousels, tilting views and zooming detail helps you get lost in the experience.
Which is exactly what the advertiser wants. Facebook reports (via TechCrunch) that “53% of Canvas users view at least half of it, while the average time on site is 31 seconds”. Putting it mildly: that’s insane engagement for a mobile ad. (Ok, maybe not so mild.)
Canvas leverages Facebook Instant, so there’s no waiting around here. The content is delivered blazingly fast, negating the need to sit around and wait for a slow landing page to kick open.
Sounds great, right? But how do you use it?
Let’s see what some of the early adopters are up to.
How Should You Use Facebook Canvas?
- Burberry: Holiday gift ‘lookbook’ to help users scroll through products and choose the perfect gift
- Coca-Cola: Wanted to raise awareness for their new aluminum. Stats included a reach of “16 million people” with view times of “18 seconds on average”
- ASUS: Another holiday-related shopping experience, but this time focusing on ‘ending bad gifts’ (you know, that whole negative messaging thing). The best part? 70% (!) of people who click on the ad went to their website afterward.
- L’Occitane: Highlighted a unique aspect of their USP by focusing on how they sourced ingredients
- Lowe’s: Focused on easy DIY projects for young peeps. Apparently they liked it, spending “28 seconds” on average.
Let’s recap the use cases:
Yup, saw this one coming didn’t you?
Facebook Canvas is ideal for consumer-facing brands where emotion tends to play a bigger part in successfully establishing a brand in your customer’s psyche.
That’s not to say it’s impossible for B2B brands to use Canvas successfully. ‘Personal values’ (read: emotions) influence B2B sales 71% of the time.
But at least right now, it’s better positioned to highlight consumer products with stomach-able pricing (as opposed to high margin products or services with long, consultative sales cycles).
The interactive media, delivered at hyper-speed, make Canvas the perfect way to introduce people to new people to brands, new product lines, and other new offers. And it opens the door to create truly memorable advertising experiences which can highlight or show off the most unique, differentiating aspects of your brand (in a way that’s currently unmatched in the mobile arena).
Canvas is also perfect for those who want to increase…
Early signs point to Canvas significantly increasing mobile engagement.
Which is important, because mobile users have a shorter attention span and multitask more than their desktop-compatriots (I didn’t even know that was possible BTW).
So engagement is the key to breaking this cycle of distraction and give you a chance to get your message across before the user is on to the next one.
Engagement also matters because it’s been shown to increase…
Currently, Canvas offers the ability to incorporate a single, clickable CTA to visit the advertiser’s website.
For example, Target’s Canvas experience helps people browse products and view individual ones in detail before clicking a button to purchase on their website.
Right now there’s no way to generate an opt-in or lead conversion (which is another reason Canvas is better suited towards lower priced products).
Now you know what Canvas is. And what it can do. Here’s how to get started.
How to Get Started with Facebook Canvas?
First, some good news.
There’s no additional cost for Canvas ads. Just sign up here, and you’ll pay for a normal News Feed ad.
You can create Canvas ads with their self-service tool. That means there’s no need to dive into code, or have to bribe the overworked developer down the hall who glares at you anytime you ask for something. Facebook – stop! You’re too kind!
Instead, you can just drag and drop elements once they’re designed to Facebook’s Canvas creative specs.
But before you get started on throwing some art together, let’s back up a little bit.
Creating new Canvas ads isn’t like the traditional approach of creating static ads that people see and then click. Or the annoying auto-play video that’s not sized properly on your mobile screen so you click out as quickly as possible. End of interaction.
Instead, it’s a little more dynamic and fluid which creates it’s own opportunities and potential headaches.
For example, these Canvas ads insert an additional step in between the ad people see, and what (if anything) they do on your website. Kinda like a landing page before the landing page. That means this entire user flow needs to be optimized to increase conversions.
So here’s how people get from their Facebook News Feed to your website landing page:
‘Message match‘ is a critical concept that creates a connection between the promise you’re offering and the expectations people have. A good message match increases the relevancy between your ad creative and what the landing page is promising to deliver. In other words, it’s the link between ad elements that can result in higher conversions or cause disconnect that gets people to bounce.
That means if you want to increase conversions of an ad campaign, you don’t just dive straight into A/B testing the images. Instead, start by optimizing the entire ‘path’ or ‘conversion funnel’ first:
Once you’ve thought about how that sequence should play out, you can get into the details of creating content for mobile devices specifically.
Canvas is a storytelling tool. So storyboard how this interaction should play out. Facebook’s Canvas creative specs will show you how to use different layouts and media types.
From there, you can use PowerPoint or a mockup tool like Balsamiq to create a working model for how users should convert. In that sense, creating a new Canvas ad campaign is more like creating a mini application or website where you need to think through the interactions.
The most beautiful art – created by brilliant designers with print backgrounds – might fail spectacularly. There’s some subtly that needs to be taken into account.
Facebook Canvas transforms how advertisers can reach and engage with consumers.
To date, mobile advertising options have been incredibly lackluster despite the huge potential for profit.
But Canvas changes that by helps advertisers create beautiful, interactive experiences with different media types. All without code, or the technical headache of worrying over slow load times.
Early adopters have shown promising results for consumer-focused brands interested in boosting awareness and increasing engagement. While even retailers can get in on the action by using it to encourage eCommerce sales.
And while Canvas ads have opened up a new world for mobile storytelling, there should be an extra emphasis placed on how the entire mobile experience will play out: from ad creative, through Canvas interactions and to your site’s landing page.
Facebook’s new Canvas ads can deliver an incredible opportunity to finally engage mobile visitors better than ever before. But only if executed properly, providing those users with a cohesive journey that matches their expectations.
What do you think? Are you using Canvas already? Share your experience with us in the comments!