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Facebook's Canvas a ‘big moment’ for mobile ads

Matt Kapko | Feb. 29, 2016
Facebook on Thursday announced a new full-screen, mobile ad format called Canvas that's designed to help advertisers engage customers with detailed brand experiences.

"Our goal is to build ad experiences that deserve to live in your News Feed," Watson says. "We recognize that the ads we're serving are living next to content from the people and pages that you care about most. The bar for content in News Feed is very high."

When users engage with Canvas ads, Facebook wants them to feel the time was well-spent, the company said. In its early tests, 53 percent of users viewed more than half of the Canvas ads they saw, and the average viewing time was 31 seconds, according to Paresh Rajwat, a Facebook product manager.

Canvas is also designed to address the slow page load times that plague so many sites on mobile devices. Nearly half of all responsive mobile sites take longer than five seconds to load, and 40 percent of users leave sites after four seconds of load time, according to Jessica Watson, a Facebook product design manager. The company says Canvas ads load in less than a second; however, CIO.com tested a Canvas ad on a demonstration device at Facebook's press briefing, and it took significantly longer to load.

Same old price for advertisers, new Canvas features and metrics

Facebook's pricing models, ranking mechanics and frequency of ads remain unchanged. "All the objectives and delivery that already work for ads on Facebook will continue to work here," says Zack Hendlin, a Facebook product manager. "We don't charge by the number of things you put in a Canvas. You build it in the same way you would build a video or a photo or any other post, and it's ranked in the same way as everything else."

While the foundation of Facebook's ad business hasn't changed, advertisers now get new data points to measure the effectiveness of Canvas ads including how long users engage with ads. The levels of engagement and other successful outcomes will determine the frequency and reach of Canvas ads, according to Rajwat. "We serve ad space on how people interact and engage with ads, that's how we sell ads."

Canvas ads started to appear on Thursday in the News Feed of Facebook's more than 1.44 billion monthly active mobile users. The company says it has more than 2.5 million active advertisers. And Canvas ads can be built in a matter of minutes, according to the company.

"We think [Canvas] is a very big moment not just for Facebook, but for mobile," D'Arcy says. "Some of the most beautiful, elegant, rewarding things that the community can build around the world are finally going to come to realization."

 

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