Facebook Audience Network Adds New Formats, Including Autoplay Video

FAN autoplay videoFacebook on Tuesday expanded the ad formats publishers can add to their mobile apps via the Facebook Audience Network (FAN).

These formats include a native video unit that shows in-feed as well as three interstitial formats: carousel ads, which show up to five ads in a single unit; dynamic product ads, often used by retailers for remarketing; and click-to-play video.

Since the mobile ad network FAN launched in April 2014, app publishers had been limited to display banners or static native ads. While Facebook introduced in-feed autoplay video and interactive ads on its O&O properties, those units previously hadn’t been available on its mobile ad network.

Publishers that want to use the native unit must update their SDK. Publishers that already use interstitials can now show carousel ads, dynamic product ads and click-to-play video.

Facebook product marketing manager Brett Vogel called the addition of these units the most significant FAN update to date. It’s notable that two of these additions involve video.

“Video tends to drive a higher performance for a publisher,” Vogel said. “We anticipate over time that video will be a growing share of the Audience Network.”

Facebook is especially bullish about native in-feed video that autoplays on mute, which it argues is less interruptive to users than mobile banners.

“By adopting native, publishers don’t have to sprinkle IAB banner ads and interstitial ads throughout the app,” Vogel said. “We see IAB ads as interruptive of experience vs. supportive of it.” Facebook claims publishers will see better performance with autoplay video.

That the format is native is also a selling point. CPMs for native ads on FAN are seven times higher than display ads, Vogel said.

Despite Facebook’s preference for native, the three interstitial ad unit expansions were too difficult to execute in-feed on FAN. There was a lot of technical complexity making the ads match the look and feel of various app publisher environments.

“As a guiding principle, we try to make all these formats available to publishers in feed-like environments, but we haven’t gotten there yet,” Vogel said. He expects, eventually, to offer these interstitial units in-feed.

In the future, ads first tested and released on Facebook’s mobile app will generally be rolled out to FAN. But not everything will cross over.

FAN doesn’t support ad formats that make little sense outside Facebook’s walls, like a campaign to add “likes” to a brand’s page. It also can’t support the technically complex “local awareness” ads, which allow users to call or get directions to a local business.

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