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Facebook announced last week that, in an effort to streamline its ad creation process, the platform will cut the number of ad formats.
Retiring ad formats is hardly a new phenomenon, especially with so many new and more effective formats are coming in. But the scale of this change created quite a stir in the online ad world.
By cutting half of its 27 ad formats, Facebook is basically revising their whole ad system.
The details are currently scant but from the few examples Facebook released to the process the key changes are:
- Online offer and question ad formats have been cancelled altogether
- Sponsored Stories formats will disappear as independent ad formats
- More streamlined visual theme for all ad formats
- Focus on goal based advertising
Courting Small Businesses
The move, aimed to increase adoption of Facebook’s ad product by small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), shouldn’t have surprised advertisers who’ve been following the platform in the last few years.
Facebook has been alternating development of its ad platform between catering to savvy advertisers with money (Power editor, Conversion tracking, FB exchange) and SMB advertisers with smaller budgets (simplified ads creation process, automatically optimized options).
Facebook ads are essentially splitting into two advertising options, for large and small businesses.
Big Business Success = Better Small Business Tools
Savvy advertisers have found the platform more convenient to work with and recent articles proved the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook for both driving direct acquisitions and influencing offline purchase decisions. The Power Editor and 3rd party tools helped advertisers expand on the more limited features of Facebook ads in the early days and have helped drive results on a larger scale.
So now, as Facebook becomes more confident in its success with larger advertisers, it is turning its focus to SMBs who will find the new advertising platform more accessible than ever. Dealing with 27 ad formats is hard for everyone but if you don’t have a professional staff to help you, knowing which ad format to use becomes a really daunting task.
Facebook knows this is stopping many small businesses from putting money into Facebook ads.
Once the changes take effect, campaign creation will become easier as advertisers will first choose their goal and the platform will choose the best ad format for their goal. Many SMBs who tried and failed with Facebook advertising will now find the platform easy to use, giving them a simple tool for driving up sales and customer engagement.
What About Sponsored Stories?
Sponsored story ads, a favorite of professional advertisers, is a very effective and easy to use ad format (as Facebook takes care of the creative for you) will still exist. The social context will now be added automatically when it is available.
This will give less control to the pros and large businesses but will enable SMBs to utilize this format more efficiently and improve their overall ad performance.
Scaling The Use Of Facebook Ads
Facebook’s vision has always been that anyone will be able to use its ad platform. Facebook knows that while it can and should compete with all major platforms on large branding and performance budgets, it has a huge untapped potential with local and national SMBs who may already have presence on the platform (Facebook page or location) but haven’t been using its ad platform yet.
In the coming months, SMBs will find it easier to advertise on Facebook and will see their ROI increasing.
As for the impact of the changes on large advertisers, this is yet to be seen but something tells me, Facebook is not going to suddenly abandon Madison Avenue – Expect more surprises soon.