Wendy’s wants to shove a cheeseburger in your face, virtually. Facebook handed over the tools to the fast-food chain with a new advertising option called “Canvas,” which opened to all advertisers Thursday.
The new ad unit provides a full-screen experience for advertisers within the News Feed on mobile. The ad appears as a traditional post on Facebook, but once users click, their screens will be taken over with a full-screen display ad. The ads can feature still images, text, videos and call-to-action buttons.
“We’ve only built the shelf. What’s more exciting to me is what is going to happen when this gets into the hands of the creators," Jessica Watson, the product design manager, said at the global launch event of Canvas in Facebook’s New York headquarters.
Wendy’s was one of several advertisers who built hundreds of Canvas ads for Facebook through its beta tests. The company was joined by Universal Pictures, BMW and Burberry. In January, Facebook Vice President of Global Marketing Carolyn Everson shared Target’s work on the product during the holiday season at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Facebook will be selling these ads on both a cost-per-thousand basis, like TV, for brand advertisers, as well as cost-per-click, a metric used by online advertisers looking to generate click-throughs or conversions. The new units are certain to boost Facebook’s mobile ads, which now account for 80 percent of the social network’s revenue.
Facebook revenue — almost entirely from ads — rose 52 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 to $5.6 billion, up from $3.6 billion a year ago.
The new mobile takeover ads will give advertisers a bigger canvas and more impact on mobile devices. Wendy’s ad provided a glimpse at the layers of its cheeseburger. It was “a burger’s journey,” Brandon Rhoten, Wendy’s, vice president of advertising, said at the launch event.
Rhoten said the company was impressed by the ability Canvas gave it to tell a story but also to try direct sales. Unlike a clothing retailer, Wendy’s does not sell its main products online. Yet, in its Canvas ad, Wendy’s included a link to its store locator. The average view time of Wendy’s cheeseburger ad was 65 seconds and 2.9 percent of viewers clicked through to the store locator.
Facebook users can react to Canvas ads by using the “like” button — and the five new reactions — as well as by commenting and sharing just like they can with other ads on the social network.
Full-screen mobile ads in a vertical format have gained traction in part from a push by popular mobile storytelling app Snapchat. Neither Facebook’s Canvas nor Snapchat’s ads are the traditional pop-up. Instead, they can be interactive.
“Facebook’s Canvas app can be great for advertisers with more complicated offerings or a need for more involved storytelling. It’s also very helpful if brands are trying to avoid building microsites,” Andy Amendola, director of digital strategy at ad agency The Community, wrote in an email. “I’m looking forward to having more space to play creatively while keeping the engagement within the Facebook experience.”
Canvas is now open for anyone in the creative community. The system requires no coding or software and works on Android and iOS. “We wanted to make a tool so even smaller advertisers could use it, just like Madison Avenue,” Paresh Rajwat, product lead for News Feed ads at Facebook, said at the launch event.
Facebook declined to provide the exact breakdown of prices. It does not charge based on components, so even the most data-heavy experiences are available to any advertiser. The same product is available to all markets overseas. The Facebook team has noticed advertisers have opted to use less video for slower connections.