Facebook Canvas: Bringing Life to Brand Stories

You’re on the train, making the commute to work. The vast majority of passengers are looking at their phone and of course you’re one of them. Like many mobile users, you’re more likely to be consuming content via apps rather than a mobile browser, which can often have a slow load time. In fact, Australian mobile consumers are spending more than 80% of their time interacting with apps. So, when you take all of this into account, it was a smart move by Facebook to introduce ‘Canvas’. It’s an immersive, mobile ad format, housed within the Facebook app. What better way to pass time on a train ride that browsing through engaging content!

In case you haven’t seen a Canvas before, here’s a glimpse of one put together by cruise company, Carnival:


Image source: Facebook

Upon first glance, it looks quite similar to a standard link ad you see in your newsfeed. Once clicked on however, the audience are transported to an engaging, full-screen experience. From there, brands have the opportunity to tell a rich and meaningful story. The key is to plan a journey for your audience that is logical, yet compelling and encourages an action to be performed. For instance, this could be a click through to website or call to screenshot part of the Canvas to claim a free sample in store.

The Canvas Builder is easy to use, with six components available to choose from:

  • Button
  • Carousel
  • Photo
  • Text block
  • Video
  • Product Set

All components can be incorporated multiple times throughout the design or some not at all, it all depends on the story being told. They are also highly interactive, with linkable buttons and photos, as well as media such as videos and photos with tilt to pan viewability.

As a social designer, I was happy to learn that Facebook kept the creative community front of mind when building the format. With essentially a blank canvas to work with (pun intended), the content you fill the components with can be as creative as you wish! In the Carnival example, seamless integration has been used to tie video and photo components together, making them look beautiful and engaging.

Time for another example! I may be a bit biased, but a Canvas our team created recently for Clinique happens to be one of my favourite executions:


What I like about it is the clear story it tells the audience. The link copy, ‘Click here to redeem your free trial!’ provides an enticing offer, while informing the audience on the content of the Canvas. Once opened, the viewer can scroll through to learn more about the product. There is a strong call to action where the offer has been strategically placed at the end of the article. This enables the product information to be viewed first, without being skipped. Crucial tip: Take time in planning your Canvas structure, as you want to keep your audience engaged and scrolling to the end!

We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of Canvas design, as it hasn’t been in market for long. I’m looking forward to my future commutes, spent scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing amazing Canvas ads from brands (hopefully some that I have helped design!). There’s no doubt in my mind that brands will push the boundaries of this format to engage their audiences in better ways than ever before. Watch this space!

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