Facebook’s new Slideshow ads could transform how the company sells ads in …

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook To Bring The Next Billion People Online (And Help Marketers Reach Them, Too).

Facebook has hit user saturation in its core developed world markets, so to boost revenue, it needs to make ads work in emerging markets with older technology.

Facebook loves video content — specifically video ads — and now it’s looking for ways to get video ads in front of people who might have trouble viewing them. But what happens when the users are in countries like India, Nigeria and the Phillippines, where video hogs expensive bandwidth that few people can afford? Overseas expansion has proven to be a huge driver of growth for Facebook: the company now makes more than half of its advertising revenue from outside the United States.

But in a way, it was also a sign that the company was reaching the end of the phase of its history that was mostly about signing up people in developed economies and getting them to spend time on the service. So today Facebook announced Slideshow, an ad format that takes three to seven photos and auto-plays them as a slideshow with transitions so it looks like a normal video but can quickly load on any connection or device. To do that, it has increasingly become mindful of connectivity speeds and modifying its tools to make sure that it can reach the next set of users slowly coming online.

To do this, the social network rolled out a new ad product called “Slideshows” on Thursday that’s exactly what it sounds like: A photo slideshow, created by a brand, that works on all devices and connectivity levels that Facebook users might be using, including 2G and 3G networks common throughout India, South America and Southeast Asia. But as more people, and businesses as well, begin to jump online, Facebook has unveiled a new advertising option called Slideshow for brands to reach these new users no matter the device, connection, and where they are. At an event on Thursday morning at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., the company provided an update on its efforts to make Facebook inviting to people in new markets, as well as to help marketers reach those users.

At a whiteboard event at the company’s Menlo Park, California headquarters, chief product officer Chris Cox spoke about how Facebook has evolved to target the next billion people coming online. “The story of [Facebook] for the last 10 years has been about breaking barriers for the next people to use [the social network],” Cox said. “It started with letting high school students join, then letting adults join, then letting people who didn’t speak English join … what we’re trying to do is get the empathy inside the company to really appreciate that the people we’re building for look less and less like us, and it requires a different level of discipline and commitment to understand why people are coming to Instagram, Facebook, and Oculus — one day.” Much of the company’s focus will likely be on India, where Cox said a third of the next billion to come online will come from. For big brands, like beta testers Coca-Cola and Netflix, Slideshow offers a way to reach everyone in the world regardless of how they connect to Facebook with a single style of creative. And while you could debate whether a slideshow is actually a video, it is video-like, and probably more engaging than the static images most advertisers typically use. Facebook is launching a new lightweight type of ad on Thursday that uses a slideshow of up to seven high-resolution images that fade or flip into one another in a sequence to mimic the experience of a video without the taxing data usage. The ads make use of Facebook’s ability to read what connection speed a user tends to log in to the site from most and adjusts the type of ads it serves accordingly.

Instead of using the term “last name” in signup screens, for instance, it now uses the more universal “family name.” Things that Facebook has assumed everyone knows, it’s now reassessing. “A word like ‘password’ is not a word that can be taken for granted,” Cox said. One of the major tenets that Facebook sought to emphasize is that it’s thinking about how to help brands and consumers better connect with each other. People may know they want Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but not understand the basics of creating an account. “We need to help them get started, rather than [say] ‘Hey, you’re a sophisticated American college student, set up your profile.'” The company is also reacting to the fact that people in different countries use Facebook in different ways. Video ads are typically more lucrative for Facebook than a static image, so it’s reasonable to assume a slideshow ad offers a similar bump in ad costs.

Earlier this year, Facebook launched its Creative Accelerator program to help big brands better understand the technical and cultural considerations of advertising to emerging markets. Merchants can easily shoot the photos themselves or even use stock images from Facebook’s Shutterstock library, whereas producing and editing a whole video would cost too much.

That effort is often presented by Facebook as a humanitarian effort — Zuckerberg said yesterday that it was our “moral responsibility” to get the world connected — but it’s abundantly clear that universal Internet access also benefits Facebook’s bottom line. A new technology called Network Connection Class lets Facebook build a News Feed designed to identify and accommodate the speed of the network it finds.

The ad unit is now available through all of Facebook’s global ad buying interfaces, and it eventually hopes to make it available on Instagram as well. Facebook also provided updates on several of its other efforts around advertising to the developing world — an area of contention since Facebook has been criticized for using its theoretically-philanthropic Internet.org Internet access initiative to just recruit new users and ad viewers.

Srinivasan said that small and medium-sized businesses need “an easier, cost-effective way to create video assets,” and this is what Slideshow aims to provide. Even though emerging countries operate under technological constraints, MacLean said, marketers should know that they can outpace established markets when it comes to embracing innovation. Connecting brands with these users is the goal of Facebook’s Creative Accelerator, where by “Partnering with some of the world’s top brands and agencies, we proved that beautiful creative drives real results in emerging and high-growth countries.” Facebook today highlighted its work with 7 brands through 6 agencies in 5 countries. The program originally launched in February. [Correction: The program did not launch today, but we’re getting new details.] For example, Coke used Facebook ad targeting to create campaigns just for Kenya, and used “expat targeting” to reach Kenyans abroad.

Called “Slideshows,” they’re rotating sequences of between three and seven still images, designed to provide the ability to tell a story with some visual pizzazz without clogging networks. The new developing world-focused ad initiatives increase criticism about Facebook building Internet.org just to score new users, rather than as a philanthropic effort.

Facebook’s efforts in emerging economies—from its Free Basics app to the drones it’s developing to shoot Internet connectivity down by laser—are not without their controversies. Without the resources to shoot expensive video ads or contract agencies to target their promotions, business ownners in Facebook’s emerging markets can still produce high-quality campaigns. Also, when dealing with retail fragmentation, it’s difficult to track who’s coming in your store because people are paying with cash and there’s no CRM system in place. Bringing another billion people onto the Internet will be good for those individuals and the world in general—and new offerings such as Slideshows are meant to ensure that it’s also good for Facebook’s bottom line. Tom Alison, Facebook’s engineering director of emerging markets, said that 240 million people have shifted their usage patterns to mobile, and the company has focused on delivering a product across different environments to address these shifts.

More than just talking the talk about emerging markets, Facebook said that it’s walking the walk: The company gives employees a chance to see what running on a 2G data connection is like every Tuesday.

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