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Facebook Shrinking Ads From 19th August

News Feed Ads Shrinking To Match New FB5 Facebook Redesign

From next month Facebook ads will be getting a design refresh, although the bad news for marketers is they’re getting quite a bit smaller.

In just over three weeks, posts and ads in the mobile News Feed will display at a 4:5 aspect ratio, which means they’ll be shorter than at the current 2:3 aspect ratio.

The tallest supported aspect ratio for images without links and for videos is now vertical (4:5). Media taller than 4:5 will be masked on Facebook mobile News Feed.  

Not only that, but Facebook ad copy is seriously getting its wings clipped.

The new ad layout will only allow for three lines of text, after which users will see a prompt to display more of the text.

That’s quite a significant change from displaying as many as seven lines of text currently, before any possible copy truncation.

For marketers, the shift perhaps heralds a greater focus on developing more compelling creative, as the ratio of copy -> imagery swings away from the written word.

Native To New Mobile News Feed

From the initial announcement, it is worth noting that the changes refer to Mobile News Feed ad placements only.

However, given this is Facebook’s prime real estate, it’s clearly a big deal which impacts all advertisers.

There’s no mention, at this point, of desktop News Feed ads, so enjoy the extra screen real estate there while you can. Although to be fair, Facebook desktop ad costs have blown out over the past 12 months so that you will be paying for that extra pixelage!  

According to Big Blue, the mobile News Feed ad shrinkage ties to the launch of the redesigned Facebook platform, FB5, which went live in May.

FB5 has rolled out to the Facebook app (it did this during Facebook F8) but has yet to roll out on desktop or even mobile web. These will come later in 2019.

Social ads, whether Facebook or LinkedIn, are generally native in design, as are most commercial features. Therefore, when platforms iterate on user experience, the same changes trickle through to ads eventually.

Will Smaller Ads Be Cheaper? Maybe, But Probably Not

Few advertisers will immediately be pleased about seeing their paid exposure shrink while costs stay the same.

Or worse, Facebook ad costs will likely begin to escalate now, as they do each year, in the run-up to Xmas.

Many marketers are already experiencing substantial diminishing returns on Facebook, year on year, due to poor organic results and rising ad costs.

While Facebook gets better and better as an advertising channel quarterly, few marketers’ paid strategies iterate quickly enough to capitalise on these new opportunities.

Resultantly, a growing chorus of brand marketers are looking for scalable paid options outside of Facebook and considering shifting budgets back to TV, reports Digiday.

One interesting interpretation is that with smaller mobile News Feed ads, and feed posts in general, this should squeeze more posts into each News Feed frame, which *could* lift ad supply.

Facebook’s CFO, David Wehner, remarked earlier this year that Stories was the only real growth area within Facebook, in terms of ad impressions.

Therefore, this could possibly help keep a check on costs, or at least dampen spikes, as we head into the business portion of 2019.

Also, with ads looking more native in design, akin to other mobile News Feed content, this *could* improve performance. Only time will tell.

Less Ad Creative, But Better

On the plus side – ‘every cloud’ after all – this latest update will reduce the need for creative iterations, since Facebook and Instagram mobile News Feed ads will now be standardised.

One of the issues with Facebook ads, especially for advertisers who have ad placements automatically selected, is ensuring that creative looks and performs consistently well across all ad placements.

Since most have differing technical specs.

Facebook can auto-convert creative to fit most placements, but it ends up looking ‘a bit pants’. Hence, it pays to tailor.

The latest Facebook redesign FB5 brings several sweeping changes, such as greater emphasis for Groups, Messaging, Facebook Watch, and, soon to be, Events.

Not to mention new Facebook ‘Search’ ads which were announced in 2018, but yet to launch widely.

It may well be that the latest ad redesign sets the scene for a more seamless integration of current Facebook ads into new placements within each of these areas. Naturally, as emphasis and eyeballs shift there, paid offerings will follow.

As always, it pays to be proactive, so it would be wise to start iterating your ad creative today.

What a great way to start the week…

 

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