2013 has been great for Facebook. This past year, the social network introduced its powerful Graph Search capability as well as a redesigned News Feed, greatly simplified its ad offerings, and made huge inroads into mobile advertising. Facebook also acquired Instagram, which in turn rolled out Sponsored Photos and Videos, which should pay great dividends in the future.
As we head into 2014, we expect Facebook to continue innovating and making bold new moves. The social network will certainly continue to improve its ads capabilities, enhance the News Feed, and introduce exciting features that will benefit both advertisers and users alike. Here are the top three things marketers should keep in mind as they prepare their social advertising efforts for 2014:
Content is king (even more so in 2014)
Facebook wants to make the News Feed show smarter and more relevant content to its users. A recent update explains how the News Feed algorithm will be changed to demote lesser-quality content, such as meme photos, while promoting higher-quality articles to ensure that they show up more prominently in the News Feed.
This could have severe negative consequences for the questionable content mills that depend on Facebook for traffic. But for most advertisers, this will be a good thing. Our advice to them is pretty straightforward: in 2014, be honest and produce high-quality content. It will be difficult to “trick” Facebook’s ever-improving algorithm, and moreover, it’s simply not worth it to damage one’s own brand by sharing low-quality content.
Auto-play video ads may soon arrive in the News Feed (update: yup)
Not long ago, Facebook introduced auto-play videos for the mobile News Feed. How it works is that whenever someone comes across a video in the News Feed, the video starts playing automatically and silently. One can then tap the video for sound or scroll around in the News Feed to avoid watching it.
In 2014, we should expect to see auto-play videos enter the desktop News Feed as well. But most notably, we expect to see Facebook introduce auto-play video ads. Indeed, Facebook hinted that, “over time, we’ll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.” The implications for marketers are tremendous, as these video ads can attract much more attention than static images from users due to their immersive nature. Large brand advertisers should start to brainstorm interesting video ads to take advantage of this new opportunity.
An improved and unified News Feed will roll out
Earlier this year, Facebook introduced the redesign of its News Feed, which has been released slowly to a small percentage of users. The slick design (see below) features less clutter, bigger stories and pictures, and a unified look across all devices – desktop, mobile, and tablets.
It’s rumored that Facebook has been testing and improving the redesigned News Feed all year. In 2014, advertisers should expect further changes in ad formats (specifications + dimensions) as the exciting next iteration unfolds.
Advertisers can find the latest ad formats in Facebook’s Ads and Sponsored Stories Guide, the newest version of which can be found here.
What do you think? What’s your boldest prediction for Facebook advertising in 2014?