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Facebook Testing New, Immersive Mobile Ad Format

Back in June, at the Cannes Lions Festival in France, Facebook didn't have any new products to show. But they did have a preview, a mock-up of what they envisioned Facebook ads might soon look like.

(video via Re/Code)

It was new way of looking at Facebook ads, a whole new perspective on how Facebook marketing could work. And now, Facebook is officially testing this new format, which they’re calling ‘immersive experiences’.

Immersion Theory

Facebook’s immersive experience ads are, effectively, fully-branded and interactive destinations within Facebook - like a branded app, contained within the Facebook eco-system (and, important to note, not on the brand’s website). The ads appear as regular Facebook News Feed posts on mobile which, when clicked, expand to full screen and can be scrolled up and down and left and right. 

(video via Marketing Land)

The idea behind this new format is that advertisers can make the ad experience “whatever they want it to be,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. As noted by Marketing Land:

“It’s like an alternate version of a brand’s website, but will load more quickly and be more interactive because the content is native to Facebook.” 

It’s a similar lure to Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’ offering – brands get all the advantages that come with Facebook's native content - faster load times, more responsive functionality, and likely, increased organic reach. But that content is hosted on Facebook, you’re not re-directing that traffic back to your owned properties. It’s a trade-off than many marketers are hesitant to take up, knowing that they'll then be beholden to Facebook's rules on reach and regulation, rules which Facebook can change at any moment. Building reliance on such tools could prove to be costly, if, in future, Facebook decided to tip the scales more into their favor.  

In this case, the ad offerings do look particularly enticing, and you can imagine, in combination with Facebook’s advanced audience targeting, they’ll likely be a hit. But it will mean ceding more control over to Zuckerberg and Co at the same time. 

(video via Marketing Land)

Testing Times

The initial tests are being conducted with Gatorade, Michael Kors, Mr Porter and Carrefour, with the test ads appearing on Facebook’s iPhone and iPad apps. Facebook will be monitoring the overall performance of the ads, as well as the combinations of content within them to assess what elements work best for different kinds of advertisers. Definitely, the mock-ups and examples look very slick, a lot of brands will have a difficult decision to make on whether they take up the new option or not.

What do you think – would you consider Facebook’s immersive mobile ads for your brand?

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