After Years Of Restraint, Facebook Tries Allowing GIFs In Ads And Page Posts

Facebook refused to fill its site with flashy animated banner ads for a decade. Zuckerberg thought these interrupted the user experience, and could stunt growth. But after reaching near ubiquity and acclimating users to video ads, today the company tells me it’s relaxing its standards and starting to allow businesses to post GIFs as ads and Page posts.

Wendy’s and Coca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat are the first businesses with the ability to share them. Wendy’s ad shows a salad being constructed, while Kuat’s is basically the rainbow-shooting poptart meme Nyan Cat with a brand name slapped on.

Facebook Ad GifGIFs can’t go in the tiny sidebar ads Facebook is phasing out, only “Boosted” Page posts, which make up most of the ads you see in your feed.

The social network started supporting GIFs in user posts starting in May, but hadn’t allowed businesses to try the hip graphic interchange format all the kids are Tumbling over.

Facebook tells me “GIFs can be a fun and compelling way to communicate, so we’ve started testing GIF support in posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. We will evaluate whether it drives a great experience for people before rolling it out to more Pages.”

So basically, if users hate them and they don’t perform well, Facebook will scrap them. But if the eyegrabbing ads and Page posts drive business without annoying the hell out of people, all companies might soon get the option to animate your News Feed.

If Facebook’s smart, it will take a very aggressive approach to how the News Feed treats these posts in order to preserve the user experience. If they receive even a little negative feedback for being spam or being hidden, they should get banished from the feed.

GIFs are the visual equivalent of shouting. You have to really care about the message or you’d prefer they just shut up.