Facebook introduces a new ad format — product-focused ‘collection’

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Facebook is introducing a new ad format that should help retailers showcase their products.

The last big addition to Facebook’s ad lineup came last year, with the launch of Canvas, a fast-loading, rich media ad. Like Canvas, a collection is created specifically for mobile, and seems designed to win users over in the Facebook app — before directing them to the advertiser’s mobile website.

Facebook monetization director Maz Sharafi told me the goal with the collection format is “to really build a great new shopping experience for people and to help marketers really drive discovery and sales in mobile.” Collections are also designed to be easy for merchants to set up, with Facebook doing the heavy lifting of choosing the right products to showcase from the merchants’ broader catalog.

Sharafi added that collections take advantage of a number of broader trends: The growth of mobile commerce and video, plus the increasing importance of fast performance on smartphones.

So the ad shows up in users’ News Feeds — it leads with a video or image, followed by four product images below. If someone taps on the ad, it opens up a broader catalog of up to 50 different products. Then if they tap on a specific product, they’ll go to the advertiser’s website or app to make the purchase.

Sharafi said that while the advertiser can choose the initial four products that show up in a collection, the rest are automatically selected by Facebook, based on the merchant’s preferences and on user targeting, aiming to create an experience that’s “as relevant as possible for the consumer.”

Facebook is also announcing a change to the way advertisers can measure their results. For units like collections and Canvas, it won’t just tell advertisers when someone clicks an ad — it will also measure outbound clicks, namely when someone clicks out of the ad to the business’ website. This will also be available to advertisers on Instagram.