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Facebook’s Instant Articles are touted as being the fastest way to deliver content on the web. They are even supposed to be faster than Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, which similarly streamline content to load as quickly as possible on mobile devices.

There’s just one problem: no one seems to be using them.

Even big publishers that initially led the charge to Instant Articles have slowly started dropping the service, opting instead to use regular content hosted on their website or relying solely on Google’s AMP platform.

This week, Facebook made strides to attract publishers back to Instant Articles by announcing new ways to implement ads and monetize content shared on their fast-loading pages.

The ads are designed to be minimally invasive, only appearing within the “Related Articles” section appearing below the full articles. The company has been testing these ads since March of this year, and say they provide an “incremental increase” in the amount of revenue generated by Instant Articles, according to a blog post shared on Thursday.

As you can see in the image above, the ads look similar to most advertisements across Facebook. They put the focus on a large image, with a small bit of descriptive text and a link. For now, videos aren’t allowed but that could potentially change in the future.

The main difference between these ads and standard Facebook News Feed ads is they now appear at the bottom of the page among links to other articles, instead of in your feed.

There is one catch, however. To include the new ads in the “Related Articles” section of Instant Articles, you must also be a part of Facebook’s Audience Network.

Interestingly, Facebook says the ads can be used for virtually anything – not just branded content. The only requirement is that the ads link directly to a landing page.

While the ads may bring publishers back to using Instant Articles, the advertisers themselves may be less happy about the new ad placement. Advertisers who opt-in to placing their ads in Instant Articles can’t control whether they are prominently placed above the ad or within the “Related Articles” section at the bottom. The good news is, they can choose to block specific publishers or types of content from including their ads. That means you can at least be sure your ads aren’t appearing alongside questionable or objectionable content that could hurt your image.

FacebookClick

In the age of the internet, Facebook has become one of the premier ways to advertise a local business. Now, a new report from Borrell Associates shows just how many businesses are using the biggest social platform around to grow their business.

According to the report, almost 80% of local businesses have a Facebook page, and 62% are buying Facebook ads to reach a larger audience. In total, that adds up to more than 2.5 million US businesses paying to promote their brands or content on Facebook every year, spending $1,500 on average.

For the survey, Borrell Associates quizzed a mix of US businesses – many of which qualify as small businesses. However, it is important to note that some respondents represent larger brands with annual marketing and media budgets over $100,000.

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Among those surveyed, 85% said they maintain a presence on at least one social media site. The vast majority of those (96%) were on Facebook, with Twitter in second place. Surprisingly, Snapchat does not appear on the list at all.

The data also shows that online marketing of all forms have firmly overtaken more traditional advertising mediums like print or TV ads as the best source of new customers for businesses. Company website and social media were second and third respectively, only outranked by word of mouth referrals.

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A significant number of the respondents were categorized as “social media mavens” by the report, because they consider social media as the absolute best channel for acquiring new customers for their business. However, these businesses are probably not who you think.

Instead of new, high-tech start-ups or large businesses with the budget for extensive social media marketing, these “mavens” are described as being:

  • “Smaller, older, independent companies with less than $1 million in gross sales.”
  • “More likely to have a single location or be home-based than have multiple locations and slightly more likely to cater to consumers (B2C) versus only businesses (B2B).”
  • 76% manage social media themselves.
  • 57% pay to boost posts

A significant number of these companies are also looking at cutting or eliminating traditional advertising from their marketing mix in the near future.

The findings highlight that you don’t have to be a Forbes 500 company or a typical online-based business to benefit from marketing your business on Facebook. Businesses of all sizes are seeing the social platform as an enormously powerful tool for reaching new customers.

messenger

Facebook has been expanding their advertising service across every aspect of their platform for years, but one area has remained completely ad-free for users despite this – until now.

Facebook has officially launched ads within its Messenger app with ad bots.

The company has been testing sponsored messages since April, and now it has announced it is opening the messaging app’s ad format to all brands using Messenger’s developer tools to manage their chats.

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The ads are pretty much exactly like the format they have been testing, with straightforward ad messages. However, you can’t spam out ads to everybody. You can only show sponsored messages to those who “have an open, existing conversation with” a brand, according to Facebook.

To help with this limitation, the company says it is also allowing advertisers to create ads that link directly to their Messenger account to spark more conversations with brands.

The ads are also limited to just one link and photo. Unlike most Facebook ads, sponsored message campaigns also cannot be modified to automatically run on Facebook or Instagram.

In another departure from Facebook’s normal ad formats, the company says it will charge advertisers anytime the ad appears on a Messenger user’s screen in their Messenger Inbox – even if it is never opened.

facebookadvertising

Earlier this year, Facebook was excited to announce that over three million businesses actively advertise on their social ad network. Now, just seven months later, the company has added another million businesses to that number.

In comparison, Facebook’s biggest competition in the social advertising field, Twitter, only took in a little over 130,000 advertisers in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Facebook-owned social platform Instagram announced last week that it has reached 500,000 brands purchasing ads each month, more than doubling from around 200,000 in February 2016.

Really, the only ad network that counters the size of Facebook’s is Google, and they no longer say how many advertisers are active on their network.

While the highlight of Facebook’s advertising announcement was the overall growth in advertisers, they also highlighted just how big of a factor mobile is in their ad network. Not only do more than 80% of Facebook’s advertising revenue come from ads shown on smartphones and tablets, but approximately 40% of Facebook’s active advertisers also have created ads on mobile devices.

Another major player in Facebook’s ad network is video advertising. More than 20% of Facebook’s active advertisers have purchased video ads, and over four million new video ads are created on Facebook every month.

While every social network has its benefits, it is hard to argue with the sheer size of Facebook’s ad network. No other social platform gives you the massive audience and versatile tools that make Facebook ads so popular with advertisers.

FacebookVideo

Your site’s speed on mobile devices will soon be a factor deciding how many people see your Facebook ads, according to an announcement from the social network this week.

In Facebook’s words:

“Over the coming months, we’re working to improve ad experiences for people by considering website performance and a person’s network connection in our ad auction and delivery system.”

While it isn’t clear exactly how site speed and page performance will be implemented into Facebook’s algorithm for displaying ads, the social network is already introducing features to help brands deliver content more quickly across Facebook.

In addition to the use of Accelerated Mobile Pages, Facebook is introducing prefetching to help users see the content they are interested in as quickly as possible. This week’s announcement explains that prefetching starts loading mobile content in the Facebook in-app browser before a user ever clicks a link.

According to their estimates, this speeds up mobile site load time by as much as 29 percent and decreases the rate of site abandonment during the loading process.

The new Facebook help page dedicated to prefetching goes a bit more in-depth about how the system actually works:

“For each News Feed mobile ad, Facebook attempts to predict how likely a person is to click on an ad. If the prediction score meets the requirements, we prefetch the initial HTML page when the story first appears on a person’s screen. This content is cached locally on the person’s device for a short amount of time. If the person clicks on the ad, Facebook loads the initial page from the cache. The initial page then makes regular web requests to the publisher’s server to load the remainder of the page. We currently only cache the initial HTML page. Keep in mind that the CSS, Javascript or images on the website are not cached.”

Ultimately, Facebook’s changes are aimed at improving their overall ad performance and increasing engagement with ads. Advertisers with slow-performing sites tend to also underperform in many ad metrics.

While Facebook’s new feature will improve content delivery speed across the board, the company also offered five tips for tuning up your site:

  • Minimizing landing page redirects, plugins and link shorteners
  • Compressing files to decrease mobile rendering time
  • Improving server response time by utilizing multi-region hosting
  • Using a high-quality Content Delivery Network to reach audiences quickly
  • Removing render-blocking javascript

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Facebook operates one of the largest ad services on the internet and they claim they have finally figured out how to beat ad blockers with two new changes to their ad platform.

To start, the company has announced they have created a way to get past ad blocking extensions on desktop to show ads to everyone who visits their site – even if they don’t want to see them. The company was unwilling to say how they have accomplished this, but most likely they have created a way to ‘cloak’ their ads so they are not able to be targeted and blocked by popular ad blockers.

While Facebook is blocking ad blockers on desktop devices only, they are most likely working to do the same on mobile in the near future.

To compensate for this, Facebook is trying to make sure the ads users see are more relevant and useful to their lives by giving new control over what ads are shown in their news feeds.

The new ad control tool was released today and lets users add or remove interests from an “ad preferences” list to show what topics they are most interested in.

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“When they’re relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, by helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences—like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation,” Andrew Bosworth, VP of ads and business platform for Facebook, wrote in a blog post. “But because ads don’t always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date.

To help refine their ad service, Facebook commissioned research firm Ipsos MORI to survey users from around the world to determine why users are ad blockers have become so popular. The majority of those surveyed said the main reason they started using ad blockers was because advertising often disrupted their browsing experience.

“While people want a personalized online experience, they dislike ads that are disruptive, however personalized,” wrote Adam Isaacson, research director of Ipsos Connect. “Those that block the content on the page, that pop up with sound and that slow the content on the page were all seen to be disruptive by our qualitative sample.”

The hope of the new changes to Facebook’s advertising service is that giving people more control will make users more interested in the ads their shown and provide a more seamless browsing experience. While many will complain about the move to thwart ad blocking software, the ability to choose what you’re shown will hopefully make the change easier to swallow.

Facebook Video has quickly grown to rival YouTube, so it is unsurprising that video ads have also become a major part of Facebook’s advertising platform. But, as more and more companies share their ads on Facebook, it is becoming significantly more difficult to stand out.

To help companies make the best ads possible for their platform and best engage their audience, Facebook took it upon itself to test out their video ads to see what is best in the eyes of consumers.

Facebook showed 965 video ads targeted to the United States and Europe to a panel of consumers in a way that mimicked Facebook News Feed on mobile and asked the participants to evaluate each ad based on four factors: first impressions, branding, messaging, and video features.

Let’s break down the biggest findings of the report:

Engage Users Fast Without Audio

The majority of marketers aren’t taking how users watch videos into account when they create their ads, according to the report. Despite the fact that videos play silently in the News Feed by default and many users watch without sound entirely, only 24% of the ads were comprehensible without ads.

Additionally, only 23% of these ads included brand messaging that was easy to understand within the first 10 seconds of video and less than half (46%) featured recognizable brand links.

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Brands that ensured their ads quickly established their messaging and were understandable without sound were drastically more popular among respondents than those who didn’t.

Keep Your Messaging Clear To Spark Engagement

Videos that were intended to create a conversation and succinctly communicated a brands’ message were also more liked by participants in the study.

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For more insights from Facebook’s study, read the report here.

FacebookClick

Facebook is changing its mind on branded content, though it isn’t ready to completely dive in. The social media giant is revising its policy on branded content, which is anything that specifically “mentions or features a third party product, brand, or sponsor.”

With the latest change, Facebook is allowing any verified page to share branded content, however, the content must be labeled as such. This is a significant turn from the company’s previous stance against branded content and ads.

To help brands with verified pages label their branded content, Facebook is also offering a new tool to assist in tagging brands mentioned in the content. The company says the tool must be used every time branded content is published.

By changing their policy, Facebook is allowing companies with existing partnerships or sponsorships to bring their relationship into the world’s largest social network.

Notably, branded content can also be pushed via sponsored posts or leveraged in paid ads. The company says the new tool will hopefully lead to greater transparency while continuing to help users find valuable information.

When a brand is tagged in a piece of branded content, they will also receive access to post insights and can share the boosted post themselves.

While this is a notable change, Facebook still has some restrictions. Here is what Facebook will still not allow:

“…our branded content guidelines prohibit overly promotional features, such as persistent watermarks and pre-roll advertisements. Additionally, cover photos and profile pictures must not feature third party products, brands, or sponsors. Branded content integrations that are allowed to be posted on Facebook include content like product placement, endcards, and marketer’s logos.”

While most users still think of Facebook as mostly a way to interact with their friends, post selfies, and share information, many businesses and marketers are starting to realize just how powerful Facebook’s advertising platform is.

While Facebook ads can be an incredibly powerful way to boost your content and your brand’s recognition, it can be hard to stand out among the over 3 million advertisers on the platform.

Creating the perfect ad to rise above the noise and grab the attention of your audience means balancing several different factors, including the optimal amount of text, creating images and videos with the perfect dimensions, and knowing where to best reach users on the page.

For a brand just getting started with Facebook ads, it can all be a little overwhelming. Thankfully, WebpageFX recently shared the infographic below, which details everything you need to know to make the perfect Facebook ad.

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Want to make the perfect Facebook ad for your business and guarantee you reach your audience? TMO can help. Contact us and we can review your advertising efforts and tell you how to optimize them to get the most out of your advertising.

YourBusinessStory

Facebook announced a new video offering for small businesses called Your Business Story, which would allow Pages to easily create and share montage-videos incorporating still images and music. At the same time, the company let slip that it now has over three million advertisers.

Your Business Story is a simple tool similar to the previously announced SlideShow offering. The company didn’t say anything about ads being included in the platform, but the note about their recent advertising milestone suggests the new offering will eventually work its way into Facebook Ads.

In the announcement, Facebook said:

To celebrate the businesses that use Facebook to grow, we created Your Business Story — a tool that makes it easy to create a video that shows what your business brings to the world. Because we believe the best way to tell the story of three million businesses is to empower each one to share their own.

Three million advertisers is a significant milestone for the social media platform. In September, the company announced it had reached 2.5 million. Before that, it claimed two million advertisers in February 2015. That means Facebook has been bringing in about half a million advertisers every six months for about the past year.

The announcement also said the majority of the businesses that use Facebook’s ad services are small businesses, also saying “50 million small businesses now use Pages on Facebok.”