Facebook Goes Big With Right-Hand Rail Ad Redesign

Now it looks more like News Feed posts

Facebook’s right-hand rail is getting a rare ad redesign with photos that are twice as large, the social network announced today. The right-hand rail on desktop has been mostly overlooked as secondary real estate on Facebook—the side of the highway compared to the mobile News Feed's Times Square.

Ad rates reflect the demand, according to analysts. The rail costs about 20 cents every thousand impressions, and the mobile News Feed costs $5.72, according to new data from Facebook marketing platform Nanigans.

Mobile feed space also is more expensive than desktop feed, which costs about $5.25 for every 1,000 impressions.

Now, with an image makeover—a more engaging look that more closely resembles sponsored News Feed posts—right-hand rail prices could rise. 

Facebook said that the new rail format was up to three times more effective in early tests. Also, there will be less room and fewer ads, which could increase the competition among advertisers looking to market there.

“In the coming months, we'll be rolling out an updated design for ads in the right-hand column,” Facebook said in a blog post today. “This updated look will make right-hand column ads more visually consistent with the ads you see in News Feed.

“They will use the same proportions as desktop News Feed ads, they will be larger in size, and there will be fewer of them. For advertisers, this means a simpler way to create ads and an enhanced visual creative canvas on the right-hand column of Facebook.”

Facebook emphasized that the proportions of the images are similar to News Feed photos, so advertisers only need to upload one file that works across both places.

The right-hand rail changes come as brands adjust their Facebook marketing strategies following changes to the platform that reduced their ability to reach audiences with unpaid posts. With lower organic reach on the pages, brands are paying to make up for diminished reach.

Facebook ad prices were up 10 percent across the board in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter, according to Nanigans.