Why Facebook’s Redesigned News Feed Will Push Click Through Rates To New Heights

Why Facebook’s Redesigned News Feed Will Push Click Through Rates To New Heights

August 20, 2013

Advertisers are already finding incredible success through Facebook’s News Feed ads, with Click-Through Rates (CTR) over 1% and sometimes up to 10%. It’s likely those numbers will go even higher as the social network rolls out its redesigned desktop feed to more users.

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Facebook unveiled a new look for News Feed in March, but has offered limited access to it so far. The company hasn’t revealed what percentage of its user base is seeing the new layout, so it’s hard to understand the true impact of the cleaner design and larger images yet. But the new News Feed is such an improvement on the harsh and cluttered design before it that it’s clear engagement with posts and ads is poised to rise when it becomes the default for all users.

Photos are 50 to 100 times larger in the new design. The font on link previews is also larger. Overall, individual ads, posts, and stories can take up to twice as much screen space than they did in the old design, which means there are fewer things competing for their attention as users scroll through the feed. The buttons to Like, Comment, and Share have a bigger font and new icons to make them more prominent. And some photos, while larger overall, appear cropped in the feed and have the caption overlaid at the top, which actually encourages users to click to see them full size rather than simply scrolling past them.

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All of these attributes can significantly benefit marketers, who may have in the past felt that Facebook was working against them with various design constraints and algorithm tweaks. Finally, brands have a larger canvas within the feed, helping them catch users’ eyes, better convey their message, and promote feedback.

There is a caveat, however. The greatest gains in engagement will only come to those who are actually engaging. With each story and ad within News Feed appearing so much larger, the good stands out just as much as the bad. And though the Like button is more prominent, so is the Hide button. Banner-like images with text overlay and calls to action feel so much more out of place in the new feed, which is otherwise filled with beautiful and interesting photos from friends. Unless these ads are well-targeted, they stick out like a sore thumb and are more likely to receive negative feedback than they would in the previous News Feed layout.

Side-by-Side Walmart

Facebook specifically treats these kinds of posts differently in the new design. Images with text overlay are displayed at a smaller size, whereas simple photos are given more pixels and are simultaneously cropped to fit a horizontal frame, which means users are more likely to click on the image to see the full picture. Those clicks end up being signals to Facebook that your ad is more engaging and will improve your ad rates. See a comparison below of how two fashion ads appear in the old and new News Feed.

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Whether or not Facebook enforces its 20-percent text overlay rule, the News Feed layout itself will reward and punish advertisers for using different tactics. Those who understand the differences between the two News Feed designs will reap the greatest rewards as the social network transitions to the new look. Facebook’s feed is about to be the most engaging it has ever been, but only brands with truly engaging marketing will feel the effects.