If you compare the amount of time luxury consumers spend on mobile devices with the proportion of their budgets luxury brands spend on the channel, it’s clear mobile advertising is an area of chronic under-investment. However, it’s not difficult to see why – there’s simply a lack of premium formats which luxury marketers feel are suitable for showcasing their products. But Facebook Canvas may be able to change all that.
When this new, immersive ad product launched at the end of February, luxury brands were clearly one of the key sectors that Facebook had in mind. A brief glance at the list of beta testers – including the likes of Burberry, L’Occitane en Provence and Gucci – makes their intentions very clear.
“ Does Canvas make Facebook a more appealing destination for luxury brands to spend their precious advertising budgets? ”
But have Facebook succeeded in their aim? Does Canvas make Facebook in particular, and mobile advertising in general, a more appealing destination for luxury brands to spend their precious advertising budgets? I believe it does – let me explain why.
The Canvas experience starts with a Facebook ad which the user taps on – this opens a full screen ad. This ad can feature a range of content including videos, image carousels, ’tilt to view’ panoramic images and ‘zoomable’ images, as well as static images, text and call to action buttons. The name is appropriate, because Canvas is just that – a blank canvas which brands can fill to create full screen interactive ads to immerse users in their products and brands.
“ Not only is the Canvas ad format immersive and engaging, it’s also quick to load ”
L’Occitane’s Canvas ad is a prime example. Click on the ad and the creative is revealed – a video showing the Immortelle flower being harvested with some explanatory text below. Scroll across and you can find out more about this ageless flower and how it’s used in L’Occitane’s products, scroll down and you can access a carousel of products in the Divine Collection that feature Immortelle and its anti-aging properties.
Scroll down again and a video starts to play that reveals the origins of shea butter. Scroll down further from this and a carousel of shea butter based moisturising products can be found, and so on. The ad also features plenty of links to ‘shop’ those ranges on L’Occitane’s mobile site, as well as a panoramic image that users can ’tilt to view’ all of the products featured in the ad.
Not only is the Canvas ad format immersive and engaging, it’s also quick to load. It uses the same technology that makes video and photos load so quickly on Facebook, so it loads 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. As a better mobile optimised experience than their own sites, it makes sense for luxury brands to keep customers on Canvas for as long as they can – only guiding them to their own site at the point when interest is about to translate to purchase. I can see some sort of ‘in ad’ ecommerce experience being the next step for Facebook.
Of course, that’s all fine in theory but does it work as well in practice? Well, the initial results have been impressive.
In its testing phase Canvas ads generated an average viewing time of 31 seconds per user – with top ads achieving up to 70 seconds. Compare that with the current average time spent viewing ads within social media of 3 to 5 seconds – who wouldn’t want users to spend up to 10 times more time engaging with their ads?
Specifically, L’Occitane’s Canvas ad delivered a reach of 2.3m within 2 weeks, a dwell time of 34 seconds and an 11% higher ad recall when compared to link ads.
In short, Canvas allows luxury brands to create highly engaging, content rich and highly optimised mobile microsites which offer all of the advantages of rich media (i.e. engagement) with none of the pitfalls (i.e. slow loading times). It seems like a great format for luxury brands, and the early results that have been released suggest that it is.
Although there hasn’t been a stampede of luxury brands to the new format, we think that’s in part due to the opportunities it presents and the complexity of the format – it’ll take time and investment to get it right. And although Canvas won’t solve the shortfall in luxury brand spend on mobile advertising by itself, it will help significant strides to be made in redressing the balance.
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