Facebook is no stranger to innovation – in the last year alone marketers have been treated to a glittering array of fresh features in which to tap into; from super smooth 360 degree video adverts, to multi-product, carousel style ads.
Yet despite even this impressive track record, it appears that Facebook may well have outdone themselves. We talk, of course, of Facebook Canvas – a tool that has got the marketing community buzzing and businesses of all shapes, sizes and descriptions excited at the potential for demonstrating their wears on the enduring, unshakeable social leader platform.
In this blog, we take a close look at all that this feature promises, and how marketers can gain a definitive edge over and above their competitors through getting to grips with some key concepts.
First things first: Just what is Facebook Canvas?
Facebook describes its new Canvas feature as “A Full-Screen Ad Experience Built for Bringing Brands and Products to Life on Mobile”. In the simplest sense, this feature has been built to tell brand stories beautifully. Expanding on the Canvas overcomes a common bugbear that users previously experienced when moving from a Facebook advert, to the advertiser’s website: the issue of a slow loading, unresponsive, or otherwise underwhelming mobile website experiences. Facebook has been so focused on this issue that Canvas is delivering load times that are as much as 10 times faster than the average mobile website.
With Canvas, users can be presented with a compelling, seamless and superfast to load, product story without the need for even leaving Facebook (which marketers know all too well is a timeless challenge in itself).
Already we can see how global leaders have harnessed this feature for all that it’s worth: including Burberry, Coca Cola, Asus and L’Occitane. Of course, each of these brands have a few things in common: not least of which are huge marketing budgets and a rich collection of resources – including experts in every area of digital media and design. Yet Canvas has been built for every business – intuitive, easy to use and quick to produce visualisations that bring products to life.
Facebook Canvas: Four core concepts to get to grips with
1. Facebook Canvas provides three main benefits for the average marketer
When ‘selling’ the idea of Canvas to potential clients, or to the managers who control marketing direction, there are three central benefits: Increased conversions (overcoming the notorious bounce rates that traditional Facebook-to-website ads have become known for); better engagement (Facebook has already reported that Canvas is achieving 53% of users who view at least half of the adverts that arrive in their stream) and ecommerce functionality (with the ability to add product catalogues and Buy Now CTAs).
2. Facebook Canvas integrates many popular Facebook advertising features
Image carousels, buttons, and video content can all be included within a Canvas – and a total of 20 images may be displayed.
Because of the sheer number of features it’s essential that marketers take time to study how others have harnessed them in creative ways (a great blog for this comes from Adage); you can then experiment with all of Canvas’ capabilities (you access the tool by visiting your Facebook page and looking under ‘Publishing Tools’ – this should be towards the bottom left of the sidebar).
3. Canvas Ads can have added metrics – for essential analysis and deeper understanding
Whilst the Ad Manager will present all of the usual metrics and advert insights when you run a Canvas ad, you can (and should) add columns for further metrics.
Simply visit your Ad Manager, click on the Columns to customise the layout and select up to two metrics – the most useful of which may be average duration of Canvas viewed and average % of Canvas used. Both of which can help you improve your Canvas for better engagement and improved conversions.
4. Canvas should not replace landing pages – instead it should work alongside them
Canvas is at its most powerful when teamed with a dedicated landing page.
It provides a captivating way to engage a user and a beautifully visual tool for bringing about emotion. However it provides only the ability for a singular call to action, and it doesn’t offer any way of capturing leads (such as the invaluable email address for lead nurturing). Because of this, landing pages are far from a thing of the past – and the most effective of marketers will design for a seamless experience from Canvas, to landing page.
Facebook Canvas is promising some exciting things for marketers from every area of the industry – yet this innovative tool is as yet in its first fledgling months. How this feature progresses, and the ways in which Facebook are influenced by the feedback received from their Beta testing, may well make this tool all the more feature rich.