Facebook Canvas 101

There has been lots of talk about the new ad format for Facebook, so to save your time, here is all you need to know about it:

What is Facebook Canvas?
Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products (according to Facebook)

So what does that really mean?
Essentially it is expandable Facebook ad with interactive features. It uses the same technology as Instant Articles, so you could almost call them Instant ads. The main benefit is that they load faster than mobile web in general, up to 10x faster.
fb-canvas

What are the features?
Currently you can add following features to your Canvas:

  • Button
  • Carousel
  • Photo
  • Text Block
  • Video
  • Product Set

What brands will benefit from it?
Not surprisingly many of the first examples have been popular culture properties (movies, TV shows) with a lot of interactive elements.
minions

The real opportunity is in my opinion with product catalogues. Swiping set of different product is intuitive and also gets you closer to actually buying of the product. Good example is Verizon´s Holidone-campaign, which was one of the first uses of Facebook canvas (done by R/GA New York):
holidone

I have seen these already before?
This ad format was previously available to only selected premium advertisers, but it is now opened for every one.

How I can do one?
You can do one by utilizing the Facebook self-service tool. There are easy step-by-step tutorials on how to do them. Technically it is easy, but of course making something cut-through requires lot of craft and innovation.

Is it a game-changer?
On a surface it is just a new ad format. However with more room to play in Facebook (and keeping in mind its massive reach in majority of countries), you should seriously consider do you need to create separate mobile campaign pages. Or maybe it is just better to create interactive experiences where people already are? Clicking to go to a site is just an artifact of the previous generation of Internet. Also whereas social posts are more about branding, with Canvas you can actually create a more utility to your ad unit (like finding your nearest Wendy´s):
wendys

Will we see a sudden surge of crappy canvas ads?
There are definitely early mover advantages reaped out of Canvas. When format gets more common, it will require more finesse and craft to catch the attention. As with other Facebook advertising, the news feed should not favor ads which are not liked:
 “If an ad doesn’t perform well, News Feed doesn’t show it to many people. And the advertiser gets a lot of feedback very early on.”
-Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

What have been the best executions in Facebook Canvas thus far?

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