The Ins and Outs of Creating Canvas Ads

With 1.15 billion daily active users accessing Facebook through their mobile app, the social networking platform recognized an opportunity to create an immersive and experiential ad placement that acts as a landing page of sorts. Enter in the picture: Canvas ads. Fast forward nearly two years and Canvas ads have made their way into Instagram Stories’ feeds and are capturing the attention of users all over the world.

So what makes these ads stand out? The fact that you can provide your target audience with a personalized landing page experience with faster load speeds while using mixed medias; AND you can create one in 10 minutes or less. Keep reading to learn how you can kill the social advertising game by adding Canvas ads to your media mix.

Facebook Canvas Ads

It’s been two years since Facebook first launched Canvas ads. Within the year it launched, marketers saw ads that load 10x faster than standard mobile websites and found users spent an average of 31 seconds viewing the ads. While many marketers applaud the placement and its design, it has still been slow to catch on with many advertisers and businesses. There is definitely more planning involved with Canvas ads, but in the long run, it is worth the investment.

When determining if we should use Canvas ads for our clients, we keep four things in mind:

    1. Is their brand more experiential?
    2. Do they have a strong brand or creative assets available to use?
    3. Are we trying to convert users or generate brand awareness?
    4. What story can we tell through Canvas ads?

With these factors in mind, Spinato’s Pizzeria seemed like the perfect Canvas candidate. You may be thinking, “how the hell do you go about selling pizza through a Canvas ad?”I’ll tell you how: by creating a story rather than focusing on selling a pizza. We chose to push Spinato’s most popular delivery deal by telling the story of how to have the perfect date night at home. Using experiences people could relate to, we saw a conversion rate of 11% in the first month it ran. This proved that it isn’t about what you are selling, but the experience it provides your customer.

With low advertiser demand and a high inventory, we found that Facebook was rewarding early adopters of the placement with underpriced impressions allowing us to serve more people with our ad. That’s why it really came as no surprise when we heard the rumblings of where Facebook was going with this placement.

Instagram Canvas Ads

Earlier this year, Facebook announced they would spread the wealth of Canvas ads to their other major social platform, Instagram. These Canvas ads capitalize on the organic feel that users crave when scrolling through their feed or stories.

Different from Facebook, Instagram Canvas ads are displayed in the user’s Stories rather than the newsfeed of the platform. Why is that such a big deal? Well, mostly because, when done correctly, the Instagram placement can perform significantly better and increase engagement due to its innate organic appeal.

How do you achieve this? Avoid the route of an overly-produced video or designed image. Try out something more natural that someone would likely see and watch when viewing one of their friend’s post. As you move into designing your Canvas ad, keep that same feel going and always keep the user’s experience in mind. 

Using Canvas Ads in Your Advertising Mix

If you’re looking to incorporate Canvas ads into your business’s advertising plan, we have a few tips on how to get started and stand out from other brands.

    1. Define your goal: This step is the most important, and the one that is usually  forgotten. In order to create a story that resonates with your target demo and results in conversions, you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish.
    2. Define your audience: Who are you talking to? If you don’t have this answer down, you are going to create an ad experience that could very well be wasted on someone who won’t click or, worse, care about what you’re trying to show them. Define and outline who you are trying to reach before you begin anything.
    3. Determine placement: Facebook, Instagram or both? It’s an important question to address. Trying to target a younger audience with visuals? Instagram is likely the platform for you. If you want users to spend their time viewing products or services Facebook would be the better route. Remember when I said defining your goal was the most important step? Case in point.
    4. Wireframe your design: When we first started designing Canvas ads here at TJA, we skipped this step and it resulted in more issues and work after the fact. Get in a room with your core team members/designers and map out the user flow and points you want your ad to touch on.
    5. Get designing: Here comes the fun part! Once you have your design wireframed, you can get to designing each component of the ad. For a seamless experience, try to keep all patterns, backgrounds and themes lined up to create a smooth user experience. It keeps the user thinking that they are viewing a smooth ad experience.
    6. Upload: Using Ads Manager on Facebook, you will want to upload your Canvas ad. We always create our own ad rather than working off one of their templates, but the choice is yours. There is a bit of a learning curve when uploading your very first ad. After that, it is smooth sailing!
    7. Track your results: Once you’ve launched your ad, you’ll want to keep an eye on impressions, clicks and conversions. It’s important to understand if the people you chose to target are seeing the ad and interacting with it.

Still in the early stages of adoption, Canvas ads are proving to be an easy and affordable way to create a new, immersive ad experience for users. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be armed with everything you need to take on this new ad placement on yourself. Have you tried out Canvas ads yet? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. Comment below or tweet us @TheJamesAgency!

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