Video advertising is an effective way to engage mobile-device users, but it doesn't work as well for people with slower feature phones or low-speed (or expensive) connectivity. With many such users in developing economies, Facebook this week introduced a new way to help marketers reach those audiences: Slideshow ads.
Facebook said that Slideshow ads will deliver a video-like experience in a "lightweight" -- as well as easy-to-produce -- manner. Early tests of the format, which animates a series of three to seven still images, have shown that a 15-second Slideshow ad results in a file that's one-fifth the size of a comparable video advertisement.
Slideshow ads have already helped Coca-Cola promote the new season of its show, Coke Studio Africa, in Kenya and Nigeria, Facebook said. By adapting a regular mobile video ad to the Slideshow format, the company was able to double its ad reach goals, according to Facebook.
Aiming for 'Seamless and Interactive'
"[W]e're committed to making everyone's experience seamless and interactive no matter how or where they connect," Facebook noted Thursday in its online announcement about Slideshow. "But video poses some challenges to advertisers, especially for small businesses and businesses reaching people in emerging and high-growth countries around the world."
The announcement cited a recent 42-country study by the brand research and consulting company Millward Brown, indicating that people in slow-connectivity markets like Nigeria and the Philippines can be "even more receptive to video ads."
In addition to delivering a video-like experience with lower bandwidth demands, Slideshow also makes it easier, quicker and less expensive for marketers to create mobile ads for their audiences, Facebook said.
"We created slideshow to help businesses reach the people in emerging and high-growth markets who want to watch more video content, but businesses everywhere are adopting Slideshow as a way to overcome the challenges of creating videos, or simply to try a new and engaging ad format," the company noted.
The Next Billion and Beyond
Facebook said it will roll out the Slideshow option to its Power Editor and Ads Manager users "over the coming weeks." The company has also scheduled a November 18 Webinar for businesses that want to learn more about how to use the new ad format.
While it's already one of the most-used online businesses in the world, Facebook connects with -- at most -- just half of the world's Internet users and an even smaller proportion of the overall human population, now closing in on 7.4 billion. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been focusing his energies on ways to reach the next billion and beyond.
For example, the company's Internet.org app -- launched in 2014 -- is partnering with mobile service providers in underserved markets to bring billions of yet-unconnected people online. And earlier this month, Facebook revealed changes to how it loads content onto News Feed aimed at improving usability on mobile devices with slow network connections.
"People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets and, in most cases, are doing so on mobile via 2G connections," noted emerging markets product manager Chris Marra and emerging markets engineering manager Alex Sourov in a recent blog post. "In order to make sure another billion people can connect using Facebook we need to design features of the product that work seamlessly regardless of mobile network and device."