Facebook Inc.’s newest ad format aims to help retailers transform their print catalogs into mobile ads.
The ad format, which Facebook calls lifestyle templates, builds on the social network’s collection ads that feature a primary video or image above product images.
When a consumer taps on a lifestyle template image, she can see information about the various items within an image. For instance, a West Elm bedroom scene might feature a bed frame, quilt, rug, nightstands and lamps that a consumer could find information on. If she wants to buy an item or seek more details, she can tap Shop Now to go to the advertiser’s e-commerce site. A consumer also can scroll down the ad to tap to another “page” in the retailer’s catalog.
Retailers can add elements to the ads, such as a store locator card, to show consumers the store closest to their current location to drive store visits and in-store sales.
They also can use all of Facebook’s targeting tools to ensure they’re showing the ads to consumers who are likely interested in the brand’s products. For example, if a consumer’s actions on Facebook suggest she is interested in backyard furniture, a home goods retailer could present her with a lifestyle template filled with deck chairs and waterproof tables.
Facebook says a “dozen or so” retailers have been testing the ad format, including J.Crew, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma. The social network plans to expand the format to businesses globally next month.
The ads help link Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s legacy as a catalog marketer with its current business model in which more than half of its sales occur online, says Felix Carbullido, chief marketing officer for the retailer, No. 23 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500.
“Given the shift to digital, and as e-commerce accounts for more than 50% of our business, innovation is at our core to ensure we continue to tell our brand stories in new formats,” he says. “The lifestyle template for collection is an exciting opportunity to unify our heritage in catalog with a new lifestyle digital format designed to inspire our customers to discover new products, all on mobile where we know they are spending their time.”
The move comes as retailers send out fewer print catalogs. Merchants sent 9.8 billion print catalogs last year, down from a peak of 19.6 billion in 2007, according to the Data & Marketing Association.