Facebook Introduces Canvas, an Immersive, Full-Screen Mobile Ad Unit

Facebook Thursday announced the official rollout of its Canvas full-screen immersive advertising product for iOS and Android phones.

Facebook Thursday announced the official rollout of its Canvas full-screen immersive advertising product for iOS and Android phones.

Canvas is currently available to all advertisers, via an easy-to-user, self-service tool in Power Editor, and it creates News Feed ads for users with iOS and Android phones.

Product lead Paresh Rajwat said Facebook is working on expanding Canvas to areas such as Instagram and Facebook Audience Network, but this will likely not occur during the first half of 2016.

The social network said it created Canvas with input from the creative community throughout the entire process, which began in November 2014, adding that the goal was to present advertisers large and small with a “fully customizable digital space on which to build multimedia stories,” allowing them to mix video, photos, text and call-to-action buttons in a fully immersive environment for users.

Facebook chief creative officer Mark D’Arcy announced the launch of canvas at the company’s New York office, stressing that it was “designed, invented and inspired by Facebook’s relationship with the creative community” and calling it “a new space for big ideas.”

Product design manager Jessica Watson said the idea was to “raise the bar for what people and advertisers should see on their mobile phones,” adding that Canvas allows users to become immersed in a full-screen experience, just one click away from News Feed, and that from the advertiser standpoint, constraints were removed and they had “more variables to play with.”

A key on the user side was speed. Much like Facebook’s Instant Articles product for publishers allowed them to avoid the long load times of traditional Web posts, Canvas ads load almost instantaneously for users.

Watson said Facebook and its creative partners wanted Canvas ads to be “fast, fun and rewarding” for users, adding:

Once a user clicks, the advertiser must own 100 percent of the pixels. We wanted Canvas to be easy for all advertisers to build, from local coffee shops to Fortune 500 companies.

Rajwat echoed that theme, saying that the social network and its creative partners “set a goal to make a tool that was so easy and intuitive that even small advertisers can embrace it as easily as Madison Avenue.”

He stressed that Canvas is a self-service tool within Power Editor, and that no coding is required on the part of advertisers, and ditto for new software. The tool also includes real-time mobile previews for advertisers.

Rajwat said in early trials of Canvas ads, 53 percent of users viewed more than one-half of those ads, with an average view time of 31 seconds, rising to around 70 seconds for the top-performing ads.

When asked about Canvas’ impact on Facebook’s ad load and whether Canvas ads would receive higher priority within News Feed, Rajwat said the social network’s ad load would be unaffected, adding that Facebook serves ads based on how people interact and engage, and that there were no special rules for Canvas ads, but “if these ads are amazing, they will automatically start winning in the auction.”

Facebook said in a Facebook for Business post announcing the launch of Canvas:

We’re committed to building great mobile experiences for people, and doing so also opens up new creative possibilities for advertisers. We’ve invested in engaging experiences like video and the carousel format to empower advertisers with more creative space to share their brand and products on mobile. But the website that opens after someone clicks on an ad is often slow to load and not always optimized for mobile, creating a disjointed and frustrating experience for people. And website pages are only growing in file size. In 2015, the average website page was three times bigger than it was in 2011, and slow load times are a top reason people abandon a website.