Facebook Canvas Ads: An Introduction to the New Immersive Advertising Platform

Facebook Canvas is Here

If you showed Facebook canvas to Don Draper he would be foaming at them mouth.

Don Draper Facebook Ads

Really, Facebook knows how to please the stock holders, play nice with the advertisers by giving them tools and assets that no other digital advertising medium can compete with.

Facebook Canvas Walkthrough

Facebooks release of Canvas might be the biggest upgrades to ads yet. Canvas allows brands to create incredibly immersive experiences within Facebook, but I can already see how marketers are going to screw it all up.So to make sure you are not one of those marketers and introduce you to this exciting new development, keep reading as we dive into CANVAS.

First What is Facebook Canvas Exactly?

In their own words - 

Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell the stories and showcase their products


People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an ad.” -Howard Luck Gossage

You could say Facebook Canvas is almost a direct response to that quote. People in todays day and age interact with content that interests them and sometimes it is an ad. That is what FB hopes brands and marketers will do with canvas.

Create engaging mobile optimize full screen experiences that wow their users to the point where they don’t care it is an ad. The user will get value from canvas.

This ad platform is a mobile optimized collection of photos, videos, text and call to action buttons, beautifully put together in an immersive full screen experience.

For a visual explanation here is a great video from Mr. Porter showing Canvas in action:

As you can see there are a number of powerful possibilities for advertisers to showcase their products and services. Because Facebook just launched this ad type to the public, you may be wondering how you get started, well let’s take a look.

How Do You Access Canvas Inside Facebook Ads?

Facebook canvas is available in multiple ad objectives. The two you wll mainly be using are clicks to website and website conversions.

To get started let’s create a website conversion campaign like we normally would inside the power editor.

Create a new campaign and set your audience targeting, budget, schedule, and optimization as you would any website conversions campaign.

[Not sure how to set your ads optimization type? Check out our post on website conversion optimization types here]

Once you have your campaign and ad set settings put in place head on over to the ad itself.

When you are in the ad editor you will have “ad with image or video” selected, and you will see a new option under the website URL field.

where ti find canvas in power editor

Its Canvas!

Because you do not have any canvas’s already created the field will be highlighted in red so you need to click the + sign on the right to ad a new Canvas.Once you have a Canvas saved you can use it again by selecting it from that field. Pretty cool that you won’t have to make a new Canvas everytime.

Once you click the + sign a new window will appear where you can create your new Canvas. So what can you do inside Facebook Canvas? Lets see…..

Special Features of Canvas Ads

Pick Your Background Theme:

picking a theme in canvas

Once inside there are a number of pieces to the Canvas to edit. Facebook gives you 3 themes to choose from, white background, black, or custom color. This helps you brand the background of the content to fit business.

Your Canvas Header:

The header is fixed to the top of hte screen and it has a space to upload your logo. Facebook recommend 120 x 44 pixels for the log size and a transparent PNG file. You can then customize the header background color. This background color is separate from the theme color.

creating a facebook canvas ad

Once you have your main theme color and header set up you are free to layout and design the rest of your canvas as you see fit. Facebook has some default components already inserted for you to edit. You can follow along with the pre-made layout or do something different.

If you follow along with what Facebook has layed out the next component should be an image. This is where things get fun!

Facebook Canvas Images and Video

Remember how we talked about Canvas being an immersive experience builder inside of Facebook, this is accomplished with rich media. You see, when a user clicks on a canvas ad, it opens up full screen on their device.

Big bold images and video works well, and Facebook gives you some options as to how you can display them. Facebook recommend images no small than 640 lixels at 72 dpi. However you need to remember that canvas is going to open up FULl SCREEN. So you should try to use images at least 1080 pixels wide. Yet if you want to make a big impact on mobile, go for a big widescreen landscape image and choose the tilt to pan option. This will utilize the mobile device gyroscope so when you tilt the device from side to side it will reveal more of the image.This can allow for some really creative design and storytelling ideas.

For an easy reference of all the Canvas specs DOWNLOAD the FREE  Canvas Media Cheat Sheet by clicking the button below!

Image Design Requirements

  • Image ratio: Images use the full width of the screen by default

  • Image size: A full width image is 1,080 pixels, but you can use wider images if you select the fit to height (tilt to pan) display option. A full-height image is 1,920 pixels high, but you can use a taller image if you select the fit to width (tap to expand) display option

  • File type: .png, .jpg

  • Up to 20 photos can be used in a Canvas

Video Design Requirements

  • Video: Minimum resolution of 720p

  • Orientation: Portrait orientation is recommended, and it's also recommended that you not make videos full screen. Note: Landscape orientation videos will automatically resize themselves to play in portrait. This causes them to shrink and have black bars on either side

  • Length: You can have multiple videos in your Canvas, but their collective run time can't exceed 2 minutes

  • Format: .mp4 or .mov

  • Thumbnail: This will be the first frame of the video

How to Put Together Your First Canvas Ad

Now that we know what type of images and videos we need to create immersive ads, how do we layout the rest of our immersive ad experience.

Every component block in the editor is modular meaning you can move them up an ddown in the order you want them to display. To ad a new component it is pretty easy, just click the bottom where it says add component.

From there a window will open and you will have some choices of different content blocks to add. Kind of feels like Mailchimps drag and drop editor.

Text - You can not make paragraph breaks inside a single text box, but we don’t want a wall of text in our canvas ad, just guide your customer through your story with small, easy to digest blocks of text.

Button - The button is pretty straight forward, you can add text, align the text inside the button, and choose the button color and style. Frame style or solid fill are the only two options. You can also choose to pin a button to the bottom of the screen so it is always visiable when the user is scrolling through the content.

carousel - One thing to note about adding a carousel to your content, all the images need to be the same size, so make sure you crop all the images you wish to use in your ad to the same size before you upload them.

Video - you can use multiple videos in your ads but they can not total more than 2 minutes combined.

Preview Facebook Canvas on Device

Once you have put together some content on your Canvas ad, you should test how your immersive experience is coming together. Facebook lets you preview your canvas on your device​.

Save your draft and click "Preview On Device" - Facebook will then send a notification to your account and you can open up the canvas ad on your phone or ipad and see how everything flows together.

Take this time to make sure you are giving your customers a great informative story about your product. Do the tilt to pan images work, or should they be switched the standard width.

Does each content block flow into the next smoothly guiding the user to the call to action. Preview the ad from the perspective of your target audience. How would they react to this piece of content. Yes it is a content piece, it just happens  to be an ad, treat it that way.

Another SUPER IMPORTANT reason you want to do a preview before you finish, is once you hit finish, that is it. You can no longer edit the canvas and you are given a URL to use in your ad. So you want to be sure.

can't edit canvas once you hit finish

Once you are satisfied with your genius marketing creation, click finish and you will then be able to get the URL for your canvas, and use it in your ads.

Facebook canvas URL

Once we have that done and we are ready to complete the ad, you can go ahead and upload a separate image that will show in the mobile newsfeed.  This is a must if your opening image is a wide angle shot using tilt to pan.

Then just like any ad, add in your headline, make it short and sweet. Then in the top text write copy that will convince the user to click on the image and view your canvas.

creating a facebook canvas ad

Here are 5 Things To Consider Before You Make Your First Facebook Canvas Ad

1. Think About Your Objective before you start creating

Know the mechanics of how a Canvas ad works and how to put it together is just the start. Like any ad or marketing campaign you have to think about your clear objective. What do you want this piece of media to accomplish?Is this a straight up direct response campaign to educate the consumer and have them buy your product right then and there. Or is it more brand awareness, are you throwing a jab instead of a right hook?

2. Plan Out Your Content

You have the specs for all the images and videos, but just throwing a bunch of random media into a canvas is not going to work. When telling a story inside this new medium you almost have to plan it out as you would a TV commercial. Remember canvas exists to tell stories, so create a storyboard on paper of what you want to say.

Once you have your story and message in place you can block in the content you need to tell it. Then when it comes time to actually put the Canvas together it is just a drag and drop operation and not an hours long creative road block.

Know the story you want to tell, plan it out, create the content pieces, and only then start creating the actual ad.

3. Make the AD an Immersive Experience, use the Technology to your advantage

In marketing we always want to WOW our customers, and Facebook is making that easier with this great technology, so USE IT.Don’t just use plain images and videos, get creative. Upload an extra wide panoramic image, and when the user titls their phone to view more of the image it reveals new facts, or features about your product. Check out how BMW pulled this off with the “virtual tour” style image.

Make you videos fast paced and exciting, tell a multipart story with multiple 15 second videos, using text blocks in between to narrate the action. Remember the total run time of all videos can not be over 2 mins, so use that time wisely.

Use the slick scrolling action of the carousel to showcase different variations of your product. Or maybe you are a service or construction type company, you can use the carousel as a neat way to showcase project progress shots.

4. Test bite sized Canvas ads versus long form content

Just like with our ad copy and video length in regular Facebook ads, you should test the length of the complexity of your canvas ads. Create short easy to digest versions as well as long in depth mobile sales pages. See what converts best with your audience.

5. Lead them to the conversion

Just because we are having fun telling stories on Facebook does not mean we don’t want our customers to actually do something inside the ad. Use you button placements wisely in your Canvas. Each piece of the content included in your ad should be leading to a call to action.

You can include multiple CTA buttons inside the ad, but be tasteful. I would say one under you main content piece at the top, and 1 down the bottom at the end is a good starting point.Or you could have the CTA button always visible by pinning it to the bottom, so the user can choose when to click through to your site.

What story is your brand going to tell with Canvas?

There is no doubt Canvas will become a powerful tool in the marketers toolbox. But it is just that a tool.

Is it a landing page killer? I don’t think so but if keeping users inside the Facebook ecosystem in a seamless environment leads to better engagement with your brand, it will be something to consider.

Gary Vaynerchuck says “The phone is the TV and TV is the radio and its 1960” - Facebook Canvas ads take us one step closer to a mobile dominated world commerce. As long as marketers don’t turn this platform into full screen ShamWow commercials Canvas should be a win for both the consumer and brands.

WHat is your take? Have you tried Canvas yet? Have any cool ideas for the platform?I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

For an easy reference of all the Canvas specs DOWNLOAD the FREE  Canvas Media Cheat Sheet by clicking the button below!

Jay Broyer

Hi I'm Jay the founder of Sellabletraffic.com , I been involved with small business web design and brick and mortar digital marketing since 2009. I cut my teeth in online marketing promoting my solo music career and brought those skills to my 9-5. Now I want to help other small businesses get ahead using paid traffic strategies.

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