Facebook update alert!
Fresh off the heels of its annual F8 Conference, Facebook has a few changes in store for advertisers.
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Facebook Ad Changes
For those unaware, Facebook unveiled an updated design at it’s April Conference.
The new interface, coined FB5, was designed to be simpler, faster and more immersive. But most of all, it was designed with communities in mind.
Part of that design change, naturally, is aesthetic. It’s a cleaner, more organized look that even abandons the signature blue Facebook bar in favor of an all-white space to increase readability.
FB5 also showcases Facebook’s increasing emphasis on Groups and community building, with a new Groups tab, a Groups recommendation tool, and new features to support certain communities.
Again, this all happened back in April, with the update coming almost immediately to the mobile app and rolling out over the ensuing months to desktop.
Now, to complement the shiny, new facelift, Facebook is updating its Page posts and ads in the Facebook mobile News Feed.
Starting August 19, the following changes will begin rolling out to mobile ads:
- Shorter lines of text will be shown. Instead of the previous 7, only 3 lines of primary text will be visible to users. If there is additional text in the ad, users will be prompted to click to reveal it.
- The maximum height for photos will be reduced. The tallest aspect ration supported is changing to 4:5. Previously, the supported ration was 2:3. For image ads with links, it will continue to only support a 1.91:1 to 1:1 ratio.
New or duplicated ads will automatically be shown in the 4:5 ratio by September 2, but – and this is important – any existing, unedited ads with media taller than 4:5 will be not be boosted anymore starting September 19.
Why is Facebook Updating its Ad Specs?
The updated ad design is going into effect to mirror the simpler, cleaner design of the FB5 aesthetic.
According to Facebook, the changes are designed to simplify ad formats and improve consistency.
As an added bonus, Facebook also notes that this will make it easier to use the same ad aspects on both Facebook and Instagram.
Does This Affect All Facebook Ads?
The updated specs apply specifically to mobile photo and video ads. These ads typically appear in user’s news feeds as they scroll through their mobile device, and the smaller specs are meant to cause less disruption.
Other ad types – think carousel ads, collection ads, etc. – should remain the same.
How the Facebook Ad Changes Will Affect Marketers
At first glance, these may not seem like the most major changes.
But shorter text and smaller images mean that marketers have considerably less room to play with – and they’ll need to find a way to get their message across in half the space.
Arguably, the text length will be the biggest change here for advertisers.
So, what can we expect?
Snappier sentence structure.
Immediate calls to action.
Words that absolutely wow users.
At least, that’s what advertisers will need to adopt in order to succeed in the new ad landscape.
While you do still have the option of including longer text, it will need to be clicked on and expanded by the user. If you don’t grab their attention in those first three lines, the chances of that happening are slim.
The new image size will also present a big challenge to advertisers, as many tend to have multiple ads running at once and will need to modify any and all existing ads if they wish to continue running them.
Facebook’s new policy means it will begin automatically cropping photos to meet the 4:5 ratio, which could be a major issue if that cuts out the focal part of your ad.
Let’s take a look at a few ways you can adapt your ads to fit the new Facebook ad specs.
How You Can Prepare for the New Facebook Ad Changes
Now, before you start thinking that adapting your existing ads is more work than it’s worth, think about this: in a Facebook study, photo-only ads outperformed other ads in driving unique traffic.
That, my friends, is well worth a little reworking on your end.
In addition to driving traffic, photo ads are extremely useful if your goal is brand awareness. Due to their photo-driven nature, they tend to pop, and because they live in the news feed they tend to get a lot of impressions.
But, while impressions are all well and good, what you really want are clicks.
Here’s how to make sure you get them.
Make the Photo the Star (and Try Including People)
The photo (or video) you choose will have the biggest impact on the success of your ad.
After all, if the image doesn’t initially grab them, you can’t expect users to stick around for the text.
As such, it’s incredibly important that you choose an image that will not only stand out in a crowded news feed, but accurately represents your brand.
Remember, this isn’t the place to throw in an image for shock value or just because it’s ‘cool’; this is the place to bring your brand to life through imagery.
If you’re in ecommerce, this will often be a product. But regardless of your industry, including people in your image will likely have a bigger impact on your audience.
Because Facebook (ideally) is a place where people connect with family and friends, featuring people will feel more organic and less out of place in their news feeds.
Show people using your products. Or, if you don’t sell something physical, try featuring your employees.
We recently started running ads on Facebook and Instagram of our CEO bringing the audience along on an office tour. It’s a unique spin on what could otherwise be a dry ad, and we’re seeing good results.
And as always, use high-resolution images. This is non-negotiable. People will equate low-quality ads with low-quality biz, and more than likely is not the effect you’re going for.
Limit Text in Images in Your Ads
While we’re talking images, it’s important to note that the less text, the better.
The reason for that is two-fold.
First, overly-wordy images historically perform worse. In fact, according to Facebook, ads with less than 20% text do best.
On top of that, Facebook may actually reject a boosted post that features too much text. Because of that, and Facebook’s focus on providing only the best experience to its users, each image is subjected to review by the social giant.
Ads that are determined to have too much text may not be shown at all.
The solution? Not so complicated: limit the text in your ads. Make an actual image (a good one, mind you) the focus of your photo, and you should be in the clear.
Note that image text is limited just to text that appears inside the image, not any text above (though that, of course, has been recently limited).
For reference, here’s an image straight from Facebook. Number 3, inside the image, is the text to be aware of here.
If you’re concerned, you can always use Facebook’s Image Text tool to check.
Copy’s More Important Than Ever
The limited, three-lines of text update is the real game-changer here.
Brands simply won’t have the space to include witty one-liners, build curiosity, and highlight the main features of an ad anymore.
Instead, they’ll have to make tough decisions about what to include and what to cut.
Jack Appleby, director of creative strategy at agency Midnight Oil, told Digiday that he predicts “[direct-to-consumer] brands will double-down on feature marketing, while bigger brands will stick with feel-good copy down the lifestyle line.”
Of course, users will still have the option to click to expand more text, but advertisers shouldn’t count on that as a reliable way to get their message across.
Think, instead, about what the most important part of your ad is. Word choice and tone will be important here, so make sure you stick with a voice that resonates with your audience.
Vary the Creatives in Your Campaigns
Because you have less space to play with now, it may be beneficial to create multiple ads for each campaign.
While before, you may have only needed five ads to highlight all the features of, say, your summer football camp, you might now spread that messaging across eight or ten ads.
That way, you can more efficiently use the smaller text space to narrow in on a specific feature. Campaigns with more creatives tend to benefit more from higher ad frequency, which will keep your ads popping up in front of your audience.
If that audience were to be shown the exact same ad multiple times, they would understandably be less receptive to it. But by showing them a different ad with the same goal, there’s a lesser chance that your audience will become annoyed or oversaturated by it.
Wrapping Up The Latest Facebook Ad Update
This isn’t the first Facebook ad update, and it certainly won’t be the last.
As always, keeping on top of the changes is the best way to make sure they don’t negatively affect your brand or ad strategy.
For Facebook advertisers, the key takeaways here are:
- Update your images and text before August 19 – or Facebook might try to do it for you
- Adjust all upcoming ads to meet the 4:5 ratio
- Work on brevity in the text portion of your ad
These aren’t major changes, and they shouldn’t throw anyone’s strategy too far off course.