Strategy: Facebook Canvas Ads, Sparkloft Style

Facebook was definitely thinking about both the user-experience and the unique value for brands when it created the sleek, magazine-experience ad option, Canvas.

Canvas ads, only available on mobile, link out from a website click ad to take over a user’s screen with a combination of high-res images, videos, panoramas (viewable by tilting your phone from side-to-side), text, links out to multiple landing pages, and slideshows. The combination of rich media, intuitive scrolling, and a magazine-like layout (Flipboard anyone?) creates a truly one-of-a-kind experience for users to learn more about a destination or brand.

Based on our research, Facebook’s statements, and some early adopters (e.g. Carnival Cruise), we can tell you that users pay attention to Canvas ads for more minutes at a time than other Facebook ads, performing even stronger than most video. Specifically, Carnival Cruise found that a full 50% of users scrolled through the ads until the very end. Lastly, canvas ads are created to load super fast (faster than most video ads), to cater to mobile and users in areas without Wi-Fi or lower phone signals (i.e. countries with lower bandwidth).

With early access, Sparkloft has already run a set of Canvas Ads for Visit Santa Barbara:


We dove deep into the tool and came out with some early-adopter best practices:

  1. 3-4 blocks of media max. Don’t get carried away with the number of elements you include. While it appears as though this ad’s layout is resonating strongly with engagement, users still stop scrolling at a certain point. We recommend 3-4 blocks of media at most.

  2. Consider this a mini landing page. This means heavy emphasis on design. Canvas ads were made for and are dependent on the design and quality of your brand’s assets. If you are going to invest in a Canvas ad, ensure you set aside the proper time and resources to develop a top-notch short video, panoramas, and images. When we say high-quality, we mean it.

  3. 2-3 weeks of preparation. Because these ads require more forethought than any other Facebook ad, we recommend: 1 week for ideation and creative, 1-2 weeks for asset productions (timing depends on how much custom content is needed, and 2 days for Canvas build and campaign build, totaling 2-3 weeks for prep time.

  4. Tell a story and theme your ad. With 3-4 blocks of media at your disposal, ensure your message, assets, and branding are cohesive, ideally telling the user a compelling story. Your Canvas ad is a landing page meets a TV commercial, so plan accordingly.

  5. Use Canvas ads when you want to marry awareness and website click objectives. Canvas ads are not necessarily the best option when your sole objective is to generate clicks to a website, nor is it the strongest for solely awareness. However, should your objectives and campaign be both awareness and website clicks, Canvas ads are for you!

We may not know everything about everything, but we do know social. If you’re interested in joining the Canvas ads pioneers, ping us and we’ll make magic!


Once you publish your ad, there is currently no way of easily sending a link to others to view it (unless the person you are sending the link to is an admin of the page), furthermore, it must always be access via mobile. To remedy this non-shareability, we recommend that the administrator of the ad account access the ad on their mobile phone, plug it into their laptop, open Quicktime, select “File” > “New Movie Recording”, and next to the record button, click the dropdown menu and select your cell phone. You can then record your cell phone screen as you move through the ad to share with your friends and team. Lastly, it also captures sound, so either turn off the audio capture or edit the video in iMovie and remove the sound.

Interested in more self-education?

Facebook Canvas Ads Guide

Official Website

Carnival Cruise