The ads had been focused on driving results, such as a sale or app download. Now merchants can use Canvas to help build their brands.

Since Facebook Inc. launched Canvas ads in February, the mobile ad format that gives retailers broad leeway to tell stories and showcase products had focused on driving results, such as a sale on a retailer’s mobile site or an app download. Now, during Advertising Week, the social network is expanding the scope of the ads to retailers looking to build their brand awareness.

What that means is when a merchant sets the objective of its ad on Facebook, it can now select goals such as building brand awareness or boosting video views, in addition to direct response measures like app downloads.

Canvas ads are distinct from other Facebook ad formats because when a consumer clicks on one of the news feed ads, it opens up a full-screen mobile ad. The name Canvas reflects that the ads are fully customizable to enable retailers and other advertisers to include a mix of video, still images, text and call-to-action buttons within the full-screen ad.

For example, online-only men’s shoeretailer Eager&Co. uses Canvas to demonstrate to consumers that it’s different from traditional retailers. When a consumer sees the merchant’s Canvas post in his news feed, he sees an partial-screena pair of the retailer’s shoes with the tag line “It’s simple lads. We offer bespoke, handcrafted footwear at fair prices.” Clicking the image then takes the consumer to a full-screen ad that includes a flow chart showing how the retailer cuts out the wholesaler, middleman and physical store to sell a pair of shoes for up to $130 less than traditional merchants. The shopper can scroll down to see multiple products, as well as a tilt-to-pan photo that lets him see the shoes’ various features. The Canvas post also lets him swipe through a carousel that highlights the retailer’s free shipping, “quality without compromise” approach and 30-day return policy.

Facebook aims to drive more advertisers to use Canvas ads by making it easier to create the ads, which are made via the HTML5 format. The social network says in the next few months it will begin providing advertisers with templates that incorporate the “best practices for their marketing use cases.”


Facebook also is adding features to the format. For example, retailers can now incorporate 360-degree videos into the ads, as well as links to other Canvas experiences on Facebook instead of the retailer’s website.

A 360 video is created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. Viewers can pan and rotate a 360 video’s perspective to watch it from different angles. Adding 360 video to Canvas gives merchants another way to engage consumers and urge them to interact with the ad, Facebook writes in a blog post. For example, Brazilian bank ITAU used Canvas with 360 video to tell a story for children in an effort to highlight its work to support education.

Adding the ability to link buttons and images to another Canvas post lets a merchant create a multipage experience that tells a more in-depth and engaging brand story, Facebook says. Beats by Dre, for example, drove consumers to explore different colored versions of its iconic headphones, designed after countries’ flags. When a consumer tapped on a Beats option, instead of being driven to the merchant’s website, the link took him to another Canvas post. The approach led consumers to spend an average of 39 seconds in the Canvas ad, and 73% of the Canvas post was viewed on average.