We’ve been hearing that it’s “the year of mobile” repeatedly for the past few years. But 2016 isn't the year of mobile. It’s the year of Facebook -- or at least the dawn of a new era.
Ever since their initial public offering (IPO) in 2012, Facebook’s success has been defined by their focus on the mobile experience. But once users are on the Facebook app, the company wants to keep them there. And Facebook’s more recently announced features give consumers an excuse never to leave.
From live streaming to native content, Facebook is consolidating the mobile experience into one location. This is exciting for mobile users, but might be alarming for advertisers. These are just a few of Facebook’s new initiatives that might throw a wrench into your advertising strategy.
Facebook Live Video.
Just like Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live Video allows you to live stream video to your followers. Videos can be up to 90 minutes long, and your followers can receive notifications when you start streaming. But even if they don’t receive notifications, these live videos show up in your followers’ news feeds. In fact, while you’re streaming live, these videos are more likely to appear higher in their news feed than previously recorded videos.
The power of Live Video can be seen in the success of the viral Chewbacca mom video. The video has been viewed more than 158 million times and has received more than 3 million shares. And since, retailers like Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Toys ‘R’ Us received boosts in sales. Kohl’s also saw a 100 percent increase in digital engagement.
Why would advertisers be worried? Facebook Live Video could potentially hurt paid video ad performance. Live videos appear higher on people’s feeds and receive 10 times as many comments than regular videos. And with Facebook’s new Live Map, it’s easier than ever to discover trending videos organically.
Facebook is investing big time in Live Video, and advertisers could see a negative impact on the effectiveness of video advertising.
Nothing has rattled publishers more than Facebook’s new native publishing platform, Instant Articles. Instant Articles open directly on Facebook’s platform, rather than redirecting the user to a separate site.
According to Facebook, these articles can receive 20 percent more clicks, 30 percent more shares and 70 percent fewer abandons than traditional mobile web articles. While few publishers have made the switch so far, more sites will be forced to publish articles straight to Facebook if they want to remain competitive. This means that viewers may not ever make it to the publisher’s site. That could have potentially negative consequences for their advertising partners.
When publishers post an Instant Article, they have the option to add advertisements. If they choose to use ads sold in-house through their own network, nothing changes. But the publisher could also choose to host ads from the Facebook Audience Network. In this case, your ad may not be shown to the user -- it would have been shown, had the user visited the publisher’s site directly.
Instant Articles currently do not rank higher than normal articles in Facebook’s news feed by default. But they generally get higher engagement, boosting their rank organically. Instant Articles are keeping users on Facebook, giving Facebook’s advertising a leg up and shaking up the advertising industry as we know it.
While Live Video and Instant Articles are free features, Canvas is a new ad format hosted on Facebook’s mobile app. While it looks like a standard Facebook ad at first, it expands to a full-screen experience after it’s clicked.
Canvas ads can include text, photos, videos, touch controls and vibrant call-to-action buttons. Brands can get creative, and add animations, image carousels, product catalogs, tilt-to-view images and embedded videos. While they’re only available on Facebook’s mobile app, Facebook has shown interest in expanding the format to their other properties, like Instagram.
These ads have seen stellar results so far. According to Facebook, one ASUS Canvas ad saw a 42 percent increase in clicks, with 70 percent of the viewers visiting the ASUS website. A L’Occitane Canvas had a 12 percent higher ad recall than a normal Facebook ad, and a Lowes Canvas had users interacting for an average of 28 seconds. Some of the best performing Canvases engage users for as long as 70 seconds.
Naturally some advertisers may be hesitant to utilize Canvas. After all, traditional display ads are standardized and require less time and manpower to implement. But if advertisers want to stay competitive, then they’re going to need to invest in a more custom experience like Canvas. And as Facebook evolves their advertising options, others in the industry will have to innovate to keep up.
The year of Facebook.
These Facebook features are forever changing digital marketing. With each innovation, Facebook is keeping more and more users on their platform, forcing advertisers to accommodate. And with each new feature, the status quo is shaken just a little more.
Should advertisers be worried? Perhaps. The shift to Facebook is much like the shift to mobile. Advertisers can benefit if they adopt new strategies early, and those who don’t could see heavy losses.
If you want to survive, and hopefully prosper through the year of Facebook, create a unique strategy for your Facebook marketing. Rather than lumping Facebook with other ad providers, advertisers need to treat Facebook as separate, and optimize for the Facebook experience. This will become even more important over time, as more users seldom leave the platform for any other site.