Facebook is hoping that the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words rings true with the new redesign of its news feed. In fact, the popular social network made a big bet that larger images in the site's new news feed will help to attract online advertisers to the platform.
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Those changes, announced at a press event on Thursday (March 7), will allow Facebook users to view specialized feeds that include news from close friends, brands, public figures, music, games and a photo-only feed. The changes have been likened to the sections of a traditional newspaper, TechNewsDaily reported.
While those changes will have a big effect across the 1 billion mobile and desktop Facebook users, the changes will have a similarly big effect on advertisers. Experts say the changes will combine the targeting power of Facebook with an ability to create richer and more attractive ads, something that the old design lacked.
"It gives advertisers a stronger ability to connect visually with users," said Eric Covino, president and founder of digital marketing agency Creative Signals. "Now ads are mostly in the right column and are easy to ignore. This is definitely a move that should benefit the reach and number of eyeballs that see ads on Facebook."
One particular group of advertisers that stands to benefit from the redesigned news feed is small businesses.
"Small businesses can now create more engaging advertisements and it is easier for them to promote specific products and different lines of businesses that they might sell," Covino said. "Rather than them having a real small thumbnail off to the side, randomly having posts inserted into the news feed offers the opportunity to be more creative and improve branding opportunities."
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Marc Poirier, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Acquisio, a media platform for marketing and advertising agencies, agreed, saying that bigger more creative ads are sure to get noticed more by users.
"Click-through rates on Facebook are notoriously low because it is hard to get clicks on the platform," Poirier said. "However, if you are able to create larger ads and put them in the news feed, then clearly you are going to draw a lot more attention and more clicks."
In addition to being able to produce richer advertisements, the new news feed still offers users the ability to specifically target users based on demographics.
"The opportunity for small businesses is that you can target at the city level and even ZIP codes so you can limit the geographic reach of your ad to a really well-defined area," Poirier said. "You can then layer gender, age and interest, so if you are a local merchant, you can target those specific people."
In addition to more specific targeting, Facebook also allows advertisers the ability to better track who sees, responds to and is driven to a sale from their advertisements. Additionally, costs are low to break in with Facebook ads and advertisers can easily control their budgets. Small businesses, however, are far from the only businesses set to benefit from Facebook's image-heavy news feed.
"This is the vehicle to allow brands to come on Facebook with the kind of advertising they want to do," Poirier said. "Brands have always wanted to have the ability to create experiences on Facebook and they don’t like the current ad format of a tiny image with some text around it. That is not pretty and it is not what brands were looking to do, since they want to create an experience. This may be the vessel that allows Facebook to attract brand advertisers."