Facebook on Thursday rolled out a platform for quick, immersive ads with the potential to become a tempting rival to television commercials.
The leading social network made Canvas available globally as a free tool marketers can use to turn smartphone or tablet ads into "experiences" mixing videos, photos, text and "call-to-action" buttons.
Mobile ads built with Canvas entice people to scroll through a cascade of full-screen images, swiping along carousels or tapping at points to trigger videos or dive deeply into topics along the way.
"People love these ads," Facebook product lead Paresh Rajwat said of early tests of Canvas.
"They interact with these ads; Like them; comment on them; share them. We see people spending over 30 seconds in these experiences."
Altimeter principal analyst Charlene Li said, who attended the Facebook unveiling, said the new program "is truly linear storytelling."
"Finally, we have an ad unit that can compete with a 30-second television ad," she said.
The analyst expected Canvas ads to bite into the multibillion-dollar television ad business, especially if the technology begins to personalize messages to individuals at Facebook.
"I do think this will start pulling from television," Li said.
"The killer part will be when you can customize these ads for each person."
She noted that given what Facebook knows about its members, the potential to personalize Canvas ads is strong.
Ads created using Canvas will be served up the same as other ads at the social network, and will cost the same to advertisers, according to Rajwat.
Canvas ads are designed to work on mobile devices powered by Apple or Android software.
Tom Brown of the creative shop at California-based Facebook likened making Canvas ads to working with Lego blocks, with components like photos, video and text easily "stacked" to simplify making immersive ads.
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