Facebook announced earlier this spring that the right-hand ad column would be getting a redesign. Well, the time has come. Facebook rolled out its new design last week with the goal of giving advertisers "a more engaging creative canvas." The new design also strives to offer a better ad experience for users. The new ad design will streamline the overall ad format across desktop News Feed and the sidebar. Right-hand column ads will be up to three times bigger, nearly as big as the content in the News Feed. Instead of being cluttered with ads from seven different brands, the sidebar will now focus on only one or two ad units. Facebook's redesign, combined with targeting features such as Custom Audiences and Partner Categories, means that marketers will be able to deliver relevant and esthetically-pleasing messages to help drive key business results.
Ad impressions on Facebook are extremely valuable so the recent re-design is part of Facebook's ongoing initiative to improve their advertisements overall. In early tests Facebook claims to have seen increased engagement — up to 3X more — from people seeing the new design. Facebook aims to have the ads be a helpful and productive part of people's experience on the social media platform. They are also hoping that users find the new right-hand column ads more engaging and, therefore, more profitable for advertisers and their ad impressions.
The new ad format on Facebook means that users will see fewer ads. Competition for space will increase because there will be less advertisements. Although it may seem that the new design for right-hand column ads isn't all that great, businesses can use this new phase to their advantage. Keep in mind that once people have seen a certain format for ads a few times, it may not be as effective. As a new format is released, early adopters can see big advantages because users aren't used to the new format and are more likely to click.
In the past, users may have seen about seven ads in the sidebar. All these ads had a small image (100×72 for link thumbnails, 120×120 for photo shares and 128×128 for video thumbnails), making it easy to ignore. If you were previously creating ads using dimensions that apply to desktop and mobile News Feeds (but sending those ads to all placements), those ads will now be shown with the bigger sizes to those users who have received the rollout. While the images will render larger in desktop and mobile News Feed, they will now have the same aspect ratio across all placements, including the right hand column. Those images will now scale accordingly.
Another advantage to the new design is that marketers will no longer have to choose separate images for News Feed and right-hand sidebars. The ad product will be simpler because you will be able to use the same image for both. Some advertisers will see the new design options this month and all advertisers will be able to use the new format later this year. Also, as we mentioned above, in Facebook’s tests, the new format has resulted in far more engagement with these ads. This, of course, is great for advertisers!
The sidebar ads will become more effective with the new changes. In the past, those right hand column ads, although worthwhile, didn't have the greatest click through rates due to the low cost to reach users. Now, the cost to reach users is increasing, but so is engagement. You should always monitor your results using analytics and test out what works best for your business!