Facebook Bets On Interactive News Feed Advertising With Polls, Playables And AR

Advertising in the news feed is set to get more interactive with the introduction of three new ad products: poll ads, playables and augmented reality ads.

“This is advertising that users can play with, and I use the term ‘play,’ because it should be fun,” said Mark D’Arcy, VP of global business marketing and chief creative officer at Facebook, speaking at a press event in New York City on Wednesday.

All three offerings are expansions of existing capabilities.

Advertisers have been able to add sticker polls to Instagram Stories ads since March. Starting later this month, video poll ads will also be available in the Facebook mobile feed.

Facebook first launched playable ads in August 2018 to help game developers spur downloads. Starting Thursday, playables will be available to all advertisers globally to buy against brand objectives.

Last up, augmented reality ads, which Facebook began testing in July, will enter an open global beta this autumn.

Although poll ads and playables can be bought like any other ad unit through Ad Manager, advertisers will have to apply to Facebook to participate in the AR ads open beta.

Interactivity in advertising is the next frontier, D’Arcy said, “what was niche and obscure can become mainstream and interesting.”

Advertisers have tried to layer interactivity into their ad creative for years, he said, but the result was often heavyweight one-off experiences without much reach.

“This is the promise of interaction and usability available at vast scale,” D’Arcy said.

BuzzFeed is hot on interactive advertising, because it opens up a new data set to tap into for the growing commerce content side of its business, said Nilla Ali, VP of strategic partnerships at BuzzFeed.

Polls, for example, simultaneously encourage engagement and help BuzzFeed get a sense of what people are interested in. Beyond driving purchase activity, knowing the sort of products people like can be useful from a content-framing perspective, Ali said.

“It’s a way for us to get more personal based on what people love,” she said.

BuzzFeed-owned food site Tasty, for example, partnered with interactive video company Eko and used polls to craft a choose-your-own-adventure-style poll video in which viewers can select the ingredients.

To help simplify the creative execution itself, Facebook has a bunch of official marketing partners working to support the interactive units, including mobile creative company Shuttlerock, and TreSensa and CrossInstall, both of which support playables.

TreSensa has a creative builder that advertisers can use to produce, package, distribute and develop multiple versions of playable ads.

Although game publishers were the first advertisers to use playable formats to boost installs with teaser content, non-gaming advertisers are also starting to use game mechanics to develop brand experiences.

Sneaker brand Vans, for example, created an interactive game that lets players guide a cartoon version of Vans scion and skate industry icon Steve Van Doren down a mountain on a skateboard and to collect virtual gifts as they move through the game. Vans saw a 4.4 point lift in ad recall and a 2.4 point uptick in favorability related to its playable.

As to whether people want to spend their time playing branded mini games in their news feed, D’Arcy said around 700 million people play games on Facebook a month.

“We know this behavior of playing games in feed is a big thing,” D’Arcy said, “and we want to capitalize on that.”

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