Posted at Apr 29, 2016 2:15:24 PM by Michelle Sternbauer | Share
Fast. Seamless. Smart.
Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, is launching an “immersive and expressive” experience that will enable businesses to tell their stories in vibrant, compelling ways. Canvas empowers brands to retain maximum control over their message – while delivering it to audiences in a powerful way.
Continual Innovation for a Mobile World
In an effort to retain, and grow, its 1.59 billion members, Facebook must continually innovate ways to improve user experience – and to ensure that the network remains a viable marketing platform for its 40 million+ business members.
Today, improving user experience boils down to one fundamental tenet: mobile. 1.19 billion active monthly users accesses Facebook via their mobile devices. And, more incredible still, 526 million active monthly users access the social network exclusively on mobile devices.
On the business side of social, mobile accounts for $2.48 billion (69 percent) of Facebook’s $3.59 billion ad revenue. That’s up from 53 percent last year, and growth is only trending upwards.
As the statistics clearly show, it’s not enough to be mobile-friendly or mobile-ready; Facebook – and brands – must be mobile-first and mobile-aggressive. To this end, Facebook has created initiatives such as Instant Articles. As Product Manager Josh Roberts writes, “We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem – slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones.”
With this platform, publishers can leverage the same technology that enables photos and videos to display so quickly in the Facebook app. Their articles are loaded instantly in-app at a rate 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles. This results in 20 percent more Instant Articles consumed and people are an astonishing 70 percent less likely to abandon an article.
Brands can reach people fast, and they can do it right in the Facebook app, which is far more convenient and preferable to users. At the same time, businesses retain complete control over their stories, their design elements, and their ad revenue. Facebook brings this freedom, flexibility, and functionality to the newly launched Canvas.
TechCrunch's Josh Constine calls Canvas "Instant Articles for ads." Why? Canvas is designed with mobile top of mind. Like Instant Articles, it promises a "fast-loading and seamless experience" for iOS and Android users. And like Instant Articles, Canvas loads as much as 10 times faster than standard mobile ads. This means that in the time it takes a user to load a competitor's ad, they will already be engrossed in a full, satisfying experience with your brand.
Speed is critical: as mobile sites increase in number, load times increase right along with them. It can take five to 10 seconds to load an ad. Brands face a catch-22 in that the more memorable the ad, the longer it typically takes to load. And the longer it takes to load, the more likely their audience is to opt out. Canvas addresses this concern, providing a fast, streamlined experience for consumers – and a significant competitive edge for businesses.
Your Story, Your Way
Marketers, advertisers, and brands can create dynamic ads that feature a combination of still images, videos, GIFs, and critical call-to-action buttons. Fully responsive, users can swipe through images and carousels, tilt to re-position, and zoom in on specific areas of the ad.
The best way to learn about Canvas is to see it in action. Following are stills from an ad that fast-food restaurant chain Wendy's created to answer the oft-asked question: what makes Wendy's burgers different?
Source: Facebook via Wendy's
They do indeed "take it from the top," guiding Facebook users through a quick – and surprisingly engaging – ad experience that demonstrates why Wendy's burgers are the best, from bun to bun. Fans can work up an appetite swiping through the vertical-oriented display.
Says Mike Bueno, Wendy's director of digital marketing, "Wendy's quality story carries a lot of equity with our fans and we wanted to invite them into that story, literally layer by layer. We're always looking for new ways to have fun with digital, and Facebook is a great partner in helping us do that."
(You can check out the full Wendy's Canvas experience at Adweek.)
But Does It Work?
Brands like Wendy's create engaging ads with Canvas. But the proof is in the pudding – or the hamburger. Do the ads enable businesses to reach their overarching objectives? According to Facebook tests, users want to experience the ads. More than half (53 percent) of users who open a Canvas watch at least half of it. The average view time: 31 seconds. Thirty-one seconds – given that the average attention span is about seven seconds, this is remarkable. Top-ranked Canvas ads garner 70 second of view time per user or more.
Wendy's "From the Top" ad saw an average of 65 seconds of view time per user, and 2.9 percent navigated all the way to the bottom to use the restaurant locator. Given conversion rates of typical ads, this, too, is remarkable.
Carnival Cruises has also seen success, thanks to Canvas. It's (jealousy-inducing, book-a-cruise-now) ad features screens of pristine water, sandy beaches, and sunshine while highlighting the ship, ports-of-call, and activities.
According to Carnival, 50 percent of people who opened the ad stayed with it until the end. Average time spent was between 135 and 174 seconds – which is longer than the ad itself (which runs 120 seconds).
Stephanie Parker of Arnold Worldwide, the firm that designed the ad, says, "It becomes a completely immersive experience on someone's phone. That really allowed us to digitally build out a cruise itinerary." (You can see the full ad here.)
Making Canvas Work for You
Immersive and story are the keywords behind Canvas. These ads empower brands to share their narratives in new ways – ways that, early testing shows, that consumers love. Canvas is designed for ultimate ease of use. For Facebook users, this means quick, seamless play. And if they accidentally hit the ad? They can quickly swipe back out to their newsfeeds. No pain. No irritation.
The same is true for brands. They can create and launch Canvas ads with no pain, no irritation, and, most importantly, no need for complex coding knowledge. Facebook's full video and text tutorial provides an in-depth, easy-to-follow walk-through that will enable businesses to get started immediately. While creating great ads is always an investment, with Canvas, brands can in high-quality, compelling content instead of just the package it comes in.
As the world goes mobile, so too must brands. Facebook appeals to people on the go, and savvy businesses are capitalizing on this fact to ensure their ads make maximum impact. Canvas gives audiences what they crave: content delivered in an entertaining, engaging, easy way. At the same time, it gives businesses what they need: a way to deliver their message in a way that resonates. Make sure your brand isn't left behind.