Facebook is taking yet another step to connect its more than 1 billion users with marketers and businesses, uniting the powers of social media, mobile applications and commercial enterprise to drive sales.
Facebook has announced that it would pilot two new ad formats that allow people to view and purchase products on the social media platform from their mobile phones. The first feature is an update to Canvas, a service unveiled in June that allows businesses to promote sponsored content on Facebook. Now, the social network is adding a feature to Canvas that displays a fast-loading page of a business's products after a user clicks on an ad. The idea is to allow users to browse products on Facebook, instead of departing for a slow-loading Web page that might dissuade a user from following through on a potential purchase.
"When people click on products from ads in their News Feed, the mobile websites they’re directed to often take a while to load and aren't optimized [for mobile], increasing the chance that people will drop off," Facebook wrote on its blog. "For people, the mobile shopping experience is often difficult to navigate. Customers can experience slow load times and too many steps on the way to checkout. This is bad for people and bad for marketers."
The second new ad feature establishes a "Shopping" tab, which will curate the products for sale on Facebook. The move comes as a response to users searching for new products across multiple sections, including their News Feed, Pages and Groups. The Shopping tab builds on Facebook's July announcement allowing small businesses to sell their products directly from their Pages and consolidates the commercial aspects of the world's largest social media platform.
The new trial features come just days after Facebook announced a new mobile lead-ads feature, which allows users to sign up for newsletters and special offers from businesses.
Facebook has shown interest in harnessing the purchasing power of its users in recent history, from adding a "buy" button to carousel ads, which display multiple products and images in one advertisement. The new additions refine and build on Facebook's earlier commercial features, while expanding businesses' reach to mobile users.
As Facebook wrote on its blog, the end-game is simple: "Across each of these formats — from proven ad products such as carousel and dynamic products ads to new tests — our goal is to make it easier for people to discover relevant products on mobile while also driving results for businesses."