Facebook Canvas: Paint a Brand’s Story

March 23, 2016

Collective Measures
Facebook released a new ad format called Canvas that allows a new, flexible way to advertise on social. Read more about Facebook Canvas ads here.


When one in five of all minutes spent on mobile devices occurs in Facebook’s mobile app, it’s no surprise brands are actively spending marketing dollars here.

In January 2016, Facebook announced that over 1.4 billion of its ­users were accessing the social platform via mobile devices each month. Additionally, Q4 of 2015 saw 823 million users accessing the platform exclusively from mobile – no desktop use whatsoever.

Facebook Canvas 1

PHOTO: Facebook Q4 2015 Results – investor presentation.

How is Facebook responding to all of this? By allowing advertisers to make their own rules. Introducing Facebook Canvas, “an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for Businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products.”


Gone are the days of limiting a brand message to 25-character headlines and only seven call-to-actions (CTAs). Now, advertisers have the option of including as many photos, videos, text blocks and CTA buttons as their hearts desire – in any order, all fully customizable.


1.Brands can become storytellers

Canvas provides the ability to tell brand stories in more engaging and unique ways, for virtually the same price as traditional ads. Facebook stated that, for now, these ads will be charged roughly the same cost as their other ads. They will also appear very similar to traditional ads within users’ newsfeeds – however, once clicked, they take over the user’s screen for a fully interactive experience.

Facebook Canvas

PHOTO: BlueKrill

2. Faster Load Time

In addition, one of Facebook’s selling points of Canvas is that the ads will load significantly faster than when traditional ads were sending users to the brand’s website immediately after clicking. Last year, the average web page was three times bigger than in 2011, meaning slow load times – which can cause users to completely abandon websites. Canvas provides a faster, more engaging way to share information with users after they click on an ad, as well as allowing these users to take action more easily.

3. Engages Users with Immersive Experience

Now, we know that content marketing is king – and Canvas takes advantage of this. Today, it is widely understood that the user experience has become one of the most (if not the single most) important components of mobile advertising. Brands are beginning to understand that their ads must be something users want to consume, or they will be ignored. Rather than using underwhelming traditional ads to drive users to one’s website (where this awesome content may already exist), Canvas allows brands to bring that content directly to users in an interactive storytelling experience.

4. Adaptable to Brands’ Needs

What if a brand focuses more on selling its products than brand storytelling? Canvas answers that challenge by including the option to integrate one’s product feeds directly into the ads – essentially creating a miniature, more accessible version of an e-commerce site. In addition, Canvas allows advertisers to add multiple CTA buttons with links to a site, anywhere in the ad, while including any amount or type copy. Want to tell consumers to “Zing a New Pair of Shoes”? Go right ahead.


But there has to be a catch, right? Nothing is perfect, especially in the advertising world. So here are a few things to know before jumping in.

1. Prepare to invest in creative

Facebook Canvas 3

Increased creative freedom means much more investment in the creative process. With traditional ads, it was easy to create A/B tests based on lists of ad copy, images and the like. With Canvas, the options are endless – so the process for creating and testing these options is as yet undefined. As with anything, advertisers should have a clear strategy before creating ads.

2. Create Captivating Content

That content creation being invested in? It had better be good, or brands won’t be gaining any traction on Canvas. To get an idea of what’s been working for others, reference the successful Canvas ads created by brands such as Coca-Cola and ASUS first.

3. Assess the Audience

Some marketers, such as Kanika Gupta, predict that Canvas will actually make Facebook ads more annoying for consumers, causing them to engage less with the content or even the platform itself. Until the new ad style has had time to run on a larger scale and gather insight into users’ interactions with it, this prediction will be an unknown. At this point in time, however, Canvas is definitely a fresh take on Facebook ads, and will likely remain so for a decent amount of time.


Regardless of any of its perceived benefits or challenges, many marketers believe the Canvas style of ad is the future of social media marketing.

“I would expect other platforms to emerge that imitate the fast, seamless and immersive nature of this platform outside of Facebook. The appeal for brands and consumers is real. But the ultimate success will be determined by brands’ willingness to invest in content people actually want to consume. ” – Adam Kleinberg of Ad Age.

Facebook Canvas

Indeed, Snapchat’s ads were some of the first to take advantage of this full-screen, interactive format – and Canvas may be Facebook’s answer to the competition it currently faces with Snapchat. However, the targeting options, data insights and immense user base available on Facebook are still unparalleled – meaning Canvas effectively offers the best of both worlds.

For now, if a brand is well-established on Facebook, taking advantage of Canvas while it’s still a novelty in the ad game will likely pay off big time.