Facebook Expands Mobile Ads With New Unit, Canvas

Anyone who thought Facebook’s mobile app was already ad-heavy, think again. The social giant on Thursday began a broad release of an interactive full-screen unit named Canvas.

“Facebook built Canvas in collaboration with brands and agencies … giving them a fully customizable space on which to build multimedia stories,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “Advertisers can use a mix of video, still images, text and call-to-action buttons.”

Facebook is particularly proud of the unit’s fast load times. Canvas loads “nearly instantaneously when someone taps on a News Feed ad,” the spokeswoman said.

In tests, the unit loads as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile Web, by Facebook’s calculations.

No niche unit, Facebook is hoping for broad adoption with Canvas. As such, the unit is immediately being made available to any brand around the world; it works on both Android and iOS at launch. Building the ads require no code or software.

Facebook declined to discuss pricing on Thursday.

In tests, brands like Coca-Cola, Lowe’s, Taiwanese computer maker ASUS, and French beauty brand L’Occitane reported positive results with Canvas.

Promoting its aluminum bottles, Coca-Cola said a Canvas ad reached nearly 16 million people, and had an average view time of 18 seconds. On average, Lowe’s and mobile users spent 28 seconds exploring its Canvas ads.

In an effort to improve overall user experiences, faster loading times are key to Facebook’s mobile strategy. To that end, the company continues to expand its Instant Articles initiative.

At the risk of turning off users, Facebook is also embracing an increasingly aggressive ad strategy. By the second quarter of the year, the company is even reportedly planning to begin putting ads directly into Facebook Messenger.

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