Facebook Launches Canvas So Publishers Can Create “Instant” Ads

Canvas ads mimic the features of Facebook’s Instant Articles platform.

Facebook has officially rolled out its Canvas ad platform. Canvas has been in testing since last year and has often been referred to as “instant ads” because of the way it mimics Facebook’s Instant Articles platform for publishers.


Canvas was created to give advertisers easy tools to create media-rich full-screen ads in the Facebook app itself that load almost instantly—just like Instant Articles do. Before the rollout of Canvas, ads in Facebook’s mobile News Feed needed to load and open in an in-app web browser window when clicked and once displayed an ad could never truly be full-screen as it was constrained by the in-app browser. Also as mobile websites have grown more complex, the load times for these ads hosted on mobile websites have increased, some taking as long as 10 seconds to load—a length of time in which the person who clicked on the ad could grow tired of waiting to see it.

Canvas solves both these problems for publishers by displaying such ads in the Facebook mobile app itself and by having the endpoints of these ads preloaded so they appear almost instantly when a user clicks on the ad link in the news feed. The Canvas tools for ad makers features a drag-and-drop design with no coding needed. Brands can create ads with videos, animations, carousels, GIFs, product catalogs, and tilt-to-view images.

In its testing Facebook has found that Canvas ads keep users engaged for longer than traditional ads. Canvas ads can be up to 70 seconds long and 53% of users that click on a Canvas ad stick around to view at least half of it. The average Canvas ad view time is an astonishing 31 seconds.

For advertisers, Canvas ads won’t cost more, either. They’ll be priced at the exact same rate as Facebook’s normal news feed ads are. And users of Facebook’s mobile apps need not worry either. The company says Canvas won’t result in users seeing more ads than they do now.

Advertisers who are interested in Canvas can sign up to use the platform here. Currently Canvas ads are only available in Facebook’s mobile app, but the company is working on ways to bring them to its other apps, like Instagram.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at