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Facebook Canvas: The What, Why, How and Who Cares?

Painting and phone
Don’t be fooled, Facebook Canvas has nothing to do with paint! Image via Shutterstock.

Our phones have become our lifelines. We’re following presidential debates, registering for spin classes, answering work emails — heck, I’ve even been known to blog start-to-finish on my phone.

And yet for all the time we spend on our mobile devices, there are a plethora of ways the mobile experience is lacking. One such example is a poor Facebook ad experience.

If you’re a Facebook user (and come on, you likely are), you’ve experienced slow load times when clicking on ads — perhaps you’ve even closed out of a window before the landing page loaded. It makes me wonder: How many wasted dollars get spent on premature window closing?

Clearly this was on the minds of Zuckerberg et al, too, as the folks at Facebook have recently addressed it with Facebook Canvas, a quick-loading new ad feature that allows marketers to effectively warm up prospects to their brand and offerings, thereby nudging them closer toward the conversion goal.

Naturally, Facebook Canvas has marketers everywhere humming hallelujah. But is it worthy of all the hoopla?

We're not worthy
Whoa, whoa, Wayne and Garth – let’s dig in first before we decide. Image source.

In this post we’re going to cover the following:

  • What is Facebook Canvas?
  • Why does Facebook Canvas matter to marketers?
  • How can you can leverage Facebook Canvas for your or your client’s campaigns?
  • So does this mean you can stop using landing pages for Facebook ads? (Spoiler alert: Nope!)

In the words of Wayne, “Party on!”

What is Facebook Canvas?

What are this?
But seriously, what are this? Image source.

Facebook has positioned Canvas as an “immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products.” Confused? I was, too, so let’s go a little deeper.

As we know, storytelling is an effective conversion tool. As Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics and QuickSprout founder Neil Patel put it, “If you want to increase your conversions, then start captivating your target audience by speaking to their emotions.”

Facebook Canvas allows marketers to create a visually stunning storytelling experience where visitors can zoom in on images, swipe through image carousels and even tilt their mobile device to view panoramic images.

When you set up an ad using Facebook’s new feature, the visitor who clicks on the ad will instantaneously trigger the full-screen Canvas, right within the app.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Facebook Canvas ad
Oooo, it’s so fancy. Image source.

The visual storytelling combined with the Speedy Gonzales load time is a surefire way to get your prospects primed to click on the Canvas CTA.

But there are limitations to Canvas’ abilities. Firstly, it doesn’t offer lead capture functionality. And secondly, it’s only available for mobile, not desktop. So it’s not a replacement for landing pages, but rather a way to bolster your PPC efforts to get more conversions… but we’ll elaborate more on that later.

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Why does Facebook Canvas matter to marketers?

For Facebook the benefits are clear: Canvas ads encourage users to leave the Facebook platform less frequently, thus allowing Facebook to accumulate more data.

Pinky and the Brain
If only Brain had invented Facebook… Image source.

For in-house marketers and marketing agencies there are many benefits, including:

  • Increased conversions. Standard Facebook ads trigger a new browser window when clicked, which can take several seconds to load, often leading to prospects x-ing out of the window. With this new format, the Canvas is triggered almost immediately upon prospects clicking the ad, meaning you connect with your audience quickly and effectively.
  • Higher engagement. With Canvas’ advanced visual features (such as video, tilt-to-view panoramic images and image carousels) you can create an immersive storytelling experience for prospects. According to early testing results, Facebook reported that 53% of test subjects viewed at least half the ads (some of which are upwards of 70 seconds long).
  • Ecommerce made easy. With Canvas you can add product catalogues and even “Buy now” CTAs to your ads, sending users directly to a check-out page.

Pretty neat, right? So what now?

How can you can leverage Facebook Canvas for your or your client’s campaigns?

Storytelling and brand awareness

The beauty of Facebook Canvas is its ability to really engage and connect with the audience’s emotions using storytelling.

I don’t know about you, but one of the most powerful emotions for me is… wait for it… hanger. (It’s no joke — just ask my co-workers.) So you can imagine the appeal of this Wendy’s Canvas:

Wendy's Canvas ad
A fast food story is my favorite kind of story. Image source.

You’ll notice that the Wendy’s Facebook ad asks a question: What makes Wendy’s hamburgers different? And rather than simply answering the question (e.g., We use grade A beef, fresh produce, warm buns — ha, I said warm buns), Wendy’s shows their audience exactly what makes its burgers different, with mouthwatering images and playful copy.

The Canvas even features a video of someone drawing with ketchup. How’s that for playing with your food?

Wendy's burger
I’m more of a Burger King girl myself. It’s the square patties — they freak me out. Image source.

Canvas allows marketers to… wait, is that a triple cheeseburger?

(Sorry, I got distracted.)

Canvas allows marketers trigger an emotional response in their audience using storytelling, which — when paired with a dedicated lead gen landing page — could result in conversion boosts.


Ecommerce brands in particular  can do a little happy dance knowing they can add product catalogues and CTAs to the Canvas, making in-app browsing a breeze.

Check out how Target is using this new feature:

Target Canvas ad
Everything up until the prospect actually keying in their credit card info can be done in Facebook. Image source.

You’ll notice that all actions — from clicking on the ad to browsing the catalogue to viewing individual items — are done in the app, resulting in less friction and ultimately more sales.

So does this mean you can stop using landing pages?


If anything this highlights the importance of using Facebook Canvas alongside a dedicated landing page.

Here’s the thing: what Canvas does really well is storytelling, which is really great for evoking emotion. If you’re successful in hitting your audience in the feels, they’re way more likely to engage in an exchange with your brand.

But Facebook Canvas doesn’t offer lead capture, only a single call to action. Which is why pairing Canvas with a dedicated lead gen landing page is crucial. Don’t get your visitors all hyped up, only to drop the ball.

Yes, it’s true, in cases of mobile ecommerce, you may be able to bypass the landing page in lieu of a well-crafted Canvas that leads to a checkout page. However, you’ll still need a dedicated landing page for all desktop visitors.

Next steps

Facebook Canvas is still in its infancy, and unless you’re a Power Editor user you need to request access to it, as it’s not enabled for everyone.

Keep in mind that while these benefits have the potential to boost your brand awareness and sales, it’s important to test Facebook Canvas and then measure its impact. It may be an excellent addition to your marketing arsenal, but only by testing that for yourself can you know for sure.

About Amy Wood
Amy Wood is a writer and editor at Unbounce. She previously worked as an editor at a nationally published health and wellness magazine, where she learned about the benefits of vitamin D and em-dashes. She enjoys eating tacos, reading graphic novels and binge-watching tv series on Netflix. But mostly eating tacos. Find her on Twitter: @phoenixorflame
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  1. Ryan Whyte

    We just launched our first Canvas campaign for a client with clicks from Canvas driving to an Unbounce landing page ;) Canvas is definitely an interesting new experience, but the interface does leave something to be desired. It requires a fair amount of planning and design savvy to execute well given the inability to overlay text and the absolutely abysmal approach to creating buttons. Canvas also really speaks to the need for marketers to consider the mobile experience first given Canvas is a mobile only product. Message and design match will be important considerations in planning your conversion flow from ad > Canvas > landing page. Can’t wait t see what else folks come up with and how the product evolves as knowing Facebook it will only continue to get better.

    • Amy Wood

      Wow, Ryan! I’d be super interested to hear how whether or not the Canvas actually helped the campaign. Let me know the results, if you’re feeling generous :)

      • Australian assignment writers

        Honestly I am addicted by Facebook. even I can say my morning starts with Facebook. And it is good to read and know about Facebook Canvas as I can easily build Canvas using a combination of videos, images and call-to-action buttons. It is helpful me at my work as I am social media marketer and writer. I would love to use it. And it could be the Best thing That ever happened to mobile facebooking.

      • Ryan Whyte

        Difficult to tell wether or not the canvas is directly responsible for any incremental campaign performance as we haven’t setup and proper control groups for a/b testing purposes, but from what we’re seeing thus far the CTRs have been higher than average for FB ads with the CPCs being pretty much in line with what we’ve seen for Facebook mobile news feed ads, though somewhat lower than CPCs for IG ads (Which are typically quite high).

  2. Scott

    🌮. Thanks Amy! News to me!

  3. Rohit Gupta

    Nice Amy , thank for this facebook canvas related information, thanks for sharing.

  4. Dianne Gutierrez

    New stuff! Thanks for sharing. Loved how entertaining the read was. ♥

    • Amy Wood

      Thanks, Dianne! Glad you found it informative *and* entertaining :)

  5. James Lackey

    New stuff.Truly an incredible narrative. Thank you for such a sweet tutorial – all this time later, I’ve found it and love the end result. I appreciate the time you spent sharing your skills.

  6. Nick Halkitis

    Hi Amy,
    I found this post really informative and interesting because here you have explained some best and rarely known facts and best strategies about Facebook. Surely this will help me to increase social traffic for my small business website and also other people who looks to increase traffic of their website.
    Thanks to you Amy, for this information and please keep this on.

    • Caroline

      Thanks for sharing this amazing post of Facebook canvas. One of our academy students has given a good presentation on it who is also taking personal statement help that Facebook Canvas is a pretty amazing way to offer users an immersive, mobile experience through ads as well as allows to Canvas allows us to build a unique experience with the combination of text, images, videos, carousels, product feeds and more.

  7. Kocaeli web Tasarım

    Well, not all marketers. I’ve actually seen an improvement in terms of marketers taking a level-headed approach to changes. But that could also be because so many of the crazies have already jumped ship.

    But make no mistake, there are plenty of crazies around. Facebook remains the biggest show in town, both for users and marketers. As a result, it seems no change can be released without a bit of controversy.

  8. aydintelcit

    That’s a complete guide about Facebook Canvas. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Jack

      As you said in your first paragraph that many of the Facebook users have experienced slow load times when clicking on ads and maybe they have even closed out of a window before the landing page loaded. I admit that I am one to them. I just hate those kind of ads. However Facebook is designed for the making friends, to chat, share image, video etc. But after introducing Facebook for business, he has made it messy after all it is all about earning money from the sponsored ad but it bothering some people while checking Facebook. I am dissertation writing help provider in UK and also love to social media and I mostly prefer Twitter in comparison of Facebook. By the way thank for sharing your opinion on it and for giving information about its new feature Facebook Canvas which may be helpful some businessmen.

  9. dhanush

    That was an amazing post !
    You explained very rare and unknown facts and strategies about Facebook
    Thanks for the Post :)

  10. Innothoughts

    This is wonderful blog. Keep Sharing…

    This concept is really new… and you explained it very well.
    Thanks for sharing…!

  11. Tudor

    That’s a very nice description about the canvas. Very helpful.
    Thank you for the effort

  12. Shinji

    Great reading and insights. I’m excited to see the future of this platform develop with the recent inclusion of 360video. Thanks Amy for the primer!

  13. bharat

    That’s a complete guide about Facebook Canvas. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  14. Scott

    Hi Amy,

    I spent several frustrating hours with Canvas builder and ended up having to scrap the project after losing my saved draft. I chalked it up to the product being new and perhaps in need of some additional debugging. Have you had any success using the tool?

    • Amy Wood

      Oh, no! We haven’t tested Canvas yet here at Unbounce, but it’s definitely on our to-do list, and we’ll happily share our results on the ol’ blog here. Let us know if you give it another go, as we’d love to hear about it!

  15. Vaishali

    Great stuff….. Information provided by you is very helpful and seo strategies are very much effective.
    Thanks for sharing this nice information on SEO learned a lot from it… This text supplied me with some nice methods I will implement it into my plan. you’ve simply motivated me to start being involved in SEO..
    Really thank you for helping SEO Fresher like us… :)

  16. Fred

    Facebook Canvas ads are fast loading multimedia mobile ads. They are kind of like a Twitter Moment, where you scroll through them and they have full screen vertical photos, GIFs, photos. They’re for big branding campaigns for brands like Carnival Cruise and Wendy’s. They are effective in building general awareness, and Facebook can help brands follow up with other formats of targeted ads to the people who engaged with the Canvas ad. You can also build audiences and then hit them with Instagram ads, too. Eventually serving an actionable ad to the people most engaged to book, buy or take some other action.

  17. Kodi App

    Good If you are looking for a state-of-the-art multimedia control panel that will provide excellent playback of your movies and music, Kodi is one of the best choices. nice