Facebook launches ‘Canvas’ – the new interactive, full-screen mobile ad format

March 3, 2016

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As a nation, our share of time spent online and on mobile devices is rapidly increasing, with a staggering 80.3% of digital shoppers using mobile to complete their transactions.  This recent discovery highlights the growing need for brands to generate more engaging creative and an all-around better user experience for potential customers.


Source: eMarketer.com

Introducing Canvas: a new feature within Facebook that expands on Carousel ads, where businesses can create scrollable videos, catalogues and animation in a full-screen format on smartphone and tablet devices. This will enable advertisers, businesses and brands to tell a more in-depth story of their products and their brand using a mix of video, text, still images and call-to-action buttons.

Canvas was built to bring content to life in an experience that is almost instantaneous – as much as ten times faster than the mobile web. You don’t have to have an exhilarating brand story to tell – Canvas is flexible for any optimisation goal or objective, and is particularly useful for companies who wish to showcase their products in innovative ways that surpass the abilities of the Carousel format.

At first glance, Canvas ads look virtually like any other ad in a users’ News Feed, until they are expanded to full-screen where the immersive experience begins and users can tilt, zoom, swipe and scroll through digital stories with ease.

Below are some examples of how advertisers are already using the Canvas format:

Source: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/introducing-canvas


Coca-Cola used the format to promote the new special edition aluminium bottles – they reached almost 16 million people with an average view time of 18 seconds.


Source: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/introducing-canvas


Lowe’s, a home-improvement chain, used Canvas to connect with people looking for easy DIY tips for their home. People spent an average 28 seconds viewing and exploring their content.

In my opinion, I think the concept of Canvas, along with its predecessor the Carousel Ad, is a great one. I’m positive that all of our Paid Social clients will see a huge benefit in this new and engaging format, especially ones looking to really increase their brand awareness and consumer engagement. Using the new format doesn’t result in an exasperating amount of effort; they are priced the same as regular ads, creation and the ranking system remains the same and no coding or design skills are necessary, making it an easily accessible tool for pretty much anyone who knows a thing or two about Power Editor!

Another great thing about Canvas ads is the load time – I, for one, am furiously impatient when waiting to view content online, and it seems I’m not alone with a reported 40% of users abandoning sites after four seconds of load time. As Canvas ads are within the News Feed, Facebook has reported that the load time is less than a second – meaning more time spent with that brand engaging with their content. 53% of users view more than half the canvas with an average engagement time of 31 seconds per ad, according to early tests by Facebook.

Word of mouth is that there are plans to expand this product to Instagram in the second half of 2016, which seems like the perfect fit for such a branding-heavy format. This definitely is not the last we will hear of Canvas, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a desktop-friendly prototype is being tested out as we speak!

My ‘Top Tips’ to maximise your Facebook Canvas:

  • Before jumping straight into this new format, look at what other advertisers have created and how they have been able to portray their brand through the messaging, layout etc. You can find some example Canvas ads here.
  • If your image width is larger than the maximum 1080px, you can still use it on condition that you select the ‘Tilt to Pan Image’ option – however, it is worth noting that you will not be able to provide a destination URL when someone taps on the image. NB: This is the same for an image with height larger than the maximum 1920px, assisted by using the ‘Tap to Expand’ option.
  • I highly suggest adding a Call to Action button, which can be up to 30 characters of text. If your campaign is performance-driven, you have the option to pin your CTA to the bottom of your Canvas so that it is always visible.
  • If you’re planning to add a video component, of which you can have multiple, the total run time of all videos must be less than 2 minutes. It’s also worth mentioning that the first frame of your video will automatically become the thumbnail, which cannot be changed – choose wisely!
  • Videos will autoplay with sound and replay on a loop until you scroll passed; captions are a great way to engage those users who don’t have their audio enabled.
  • Frequently click the ‘Save Draft’ button – a great deal of time and effort can go into a Canvas, and the worst thing to happen would be for it all to go to waste!

Overall, Canvas will be a great tool to help businesses break out from traditional ad formats, as well as provide them with a quick way to establish a storytelling narrative. We can’t wait to see how brands use it in the future.

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