Craving pizza? Your favorite pizza is en route to your door in matter of a few clicks. Need a ride? Uber is on its way to pick you up seconds after your request. Need Directions? Google Maps instantly provides nearby points of interest and options based on your current location. In recent years digital advancements have dramatically simplified the process to complete these everyday actions. Advertising platforms are following this simplification trend by creating new ad formats that cut down the steps to complete an action.
Last week, Facebook announced testing of a new ad format that will simplify the lead acquisition process on mobile devices called “lead ads”. These new lead ads will appear on mobile devices and look similar to existing Facebook mobile ads, with headline and description text, an image, and a call to action button. The difference will be when users click the subscribe button, an in-app short form will populate, rather than users transferring to an external landing page. Facebook will automatically fill user information into the fields allowing users to finish the form merely by pressing the submit button.
In recent years the lead form submission process has already become a bit simpler. Browser autofill technology saves users a step by automatically filling information into available fields. HubSpot smart form fields remove form fields all together if the information has been previously attained. The new Facebook lead ads take it even a step further by allowing lead forms for newsletters, follow up information requests, pricing quotes, and more to be completed in just two clicks! Lead ads will allow users to subscribe quickly and seamlessly without leaving the app – likely allowing companies to acquire more leads.
Other Ad Formats with Similar Simplification Goals
The debut of these new lead ads does not mark the first time Facebook has attempted to make it easier for users to complete actions through ads. Last year, Facebook began testing buy product ads and auto-play video ads, which both aim to simplify the user acquisition process.
Buy Product Ads
Facebook’s buy product ads allow users to purchase products directly from a business, without leaving the Facebook app. Like the new lead ads, buy product ads remove a step from the conversion process by allowing users to purchase products without visiting an external website. These ads also allow users to save their payment information if they choose which removes even another step the next time they would like to purchase something.
Auto-play Video Ads
Facebook’s auto-play video feature, simplifies the process to watch a videos by removing the need to press play on a video. As users scroll through their news feed videos will automatically start playing without sound as they come into view. The user may watch with sound by clicking on the ad or if the user is not interested and keeps scrolling the video will stop playing.
Initially the auto-play feature was only available on video posts by pages of musicians, bands or individuals. When it became evident that auto-play ads led to more engagement by users, not only in views, but also comments and likes, Facebook expanded auto-play to video ads as well.
Pros & Cons
Facebook’s lead ads, buy product ads, and auto-play video ads all simplify the user's path to conversion by removing steps. With these ad formats and surely others to come in the future, users can quickly subscribe to a company’s email list, request more information, purchase a product, and watch video content.
These simplified conversion paths quickly provide users with what they want and provide companies more customers, which is great for both parties. With that said, these new ad formats can also come with some challenges for companies. Lead ads and buy product ads do not use landing pages, so companies must provide compelling reasons and enough information to sign up or buy with only a very limited amount space on the ad itself. Using auto-play video ads, companies no longer have to entice users to press play, but entice them enough to stop, click to turn on the sound, watch the video content and potentially engage. Hotels.com creative digital advertisers found a way to catch the eye of potential customers with an auto-play video ad that’s even better without sound!
What to Expect
At this time the lead and buy product Facebook ad formats are still being tested and have not yet been rolled out in full, but auto-play video ads are currently available to all advertisers. Facebook, along with the other major ad platforms, are constantly testing and releasing new ad formats, so keen advertisers and marketers remain aware of new trends and prepare ways to utilize new formats that fit with their business’s marketing strategy. We can expect that even more exciting ad formats aimed to simplify the conversion process will become available in the future, so get ready!