Facebook announced the Expandable Ad Unit last week at Advertising Week in New York. Expandable ads? The first image that comes to mind when I hear “expandable” is of the “boyfriend” I was given several years ago as a funny Valentine’s Day gift. My friends gave me a Grow a Boyfriend:
You are supposed to put this tiny man figure in water and watch it expand into a “boyfriend”. Silly, right? The gift was funny and made me laugh, however, the idea of it, an item that expands when you interact with it, something recommended by a friend to capture your attention, is precisely what Facebook’s expandable ad unit is going to do for ads.
The screen shot below, from the popular infographic The History of Advertising on Facebook, illustrates the advertising evolution we are experiencing on Facebook. Navigating the new features can be tricky, so let’s clarify the expandable ad in relation to other ad types available on Facebook.
● The new ad will expand when a user or one of their friends “like” or comment on the brand.
● You will be able to see other ad-related content.
● It will contain an advertiser’s message.
● In short, users will be able to interact with the ad as if it was any other piece of shared content.
What the ads won’t do:
● The ads won’t appear in the news feed as a “like”.
● It won’t tell you if a friend took action with the brand, such as with Social Ads.
Below is an example of what the ads will look like:
The trend towards blurring content so it doesn’t necessarily appear as an ad or a wall post is epitomized in the expandable ad. Have you ever been influenced by your friends? Have you ever experienced a brand or activity so great that you really want to get the word out? Think about a movie you’ve seen, or a great new restaurant you tried. On the other hand, if you are looking for a show or a place to eat, who is the first person you ask? I’d bet pretty high that it’s your friends. The desire to share is innate, and the new ad unit makes it easier than ever. Engaging their audience’s friend base is a natural way for brands to expand. It’s a win-win for the user and the business when sharing becomes seamless.
Given that the new ads will not “feel” like an ad, they will become more relevant and less obtrusive, utilizing the evidence that users are best able to influence their friends. The expandable ad gives them another tool to do so.
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