New BIGGER Facebook Right Hand Column Ads: What You Need to Know

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new bigger facebook sidebar right hand column ads New BIGGER Facebook Right Hand Column Ads: What You Need to Know

[AUDIO VERSION: I also recorded an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen. Let me know if this is something you find helpful!]

Back in April, Facebook announced that right hand column (or sidebar) ads would soon see a major overhaul to make them bigger and more engaging. Effective today (June 24), that change is being rolled out.

In this post, we’re going to cover the following:

  • What the Change Looks Like
  • How it Impacts Ad Creation
  • New Sidebar Ad Dimensions
  • How it Impacts Ad Delivery and Costs
  • The 20% Rule
  • The Rollout Timeline

What the Change Looks Like

NewSidebarAds New BIGGER Facebook Right Hand Column Ads: What You Need to Know

In the past, you may have seen as many as seven ads in your sidebar. All had a small image (100×72 for link thumbnails, 120×120 for photo shares and 128×128 for video thumbnails), making them easy to ignore.

Now, however, sidebar 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.

In Facebook’s tests, this has resulted in far more engagement with these ads. This, of course, is great for advertisers!

How it Impacts Ad Creation

There has been a lot of confusion over this among advertisers. Many are checking Power Editor or the ad create tool, expecting to see something different in the way they create ads.

Nothing changes in the flow of creating ads. This isn’t a matter of rolling out functionality to ad accounts, for example. The rollout applies to users and what they see.

If you were previously creating ads using dimensions that apply to desktop and mobile News Feeds but send those ads to all placements, those ads will now be shown with the bigger sizes to those users who have received the rollout.

If you were previously creating ads using the old sidebar dimensions, however, those ads will continue to render smaller. For now, at least!

More on that later…

New Sidebar Ad Dimensions

First, know that this significantly simplifies ad creation. In the past, you’d need to do one of three things:

  • Create separate ads for sidebar and News Feed
  • Run your ad to all placements, but get a poorly cropped image in the sidebar
  • Optimize copy and imagery so one ad would look okay in all placements

Now, however, there is less to worry about. 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.

On one hand, you could just create one ad that goes across all placements now without issues. To break down performance, of course, you’d use Facebook’s powerful ad reports.

But you may want to know the specific dimensions for these new sidebar ads. Here they are…

Page Post Photo, Link, Offer, Desktop App and Domain Ads:

  • Image Dimensions: 254×133 px
  • Consistent Aspect ratio: 1.91:1

Page Post Video Ad:

  • Image Dimensions: 254×143 px
  • Consistent Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Page Like or Event Ad:

  • Image Dimensions: 254×94 px
  • Consistent Aspect Ratio: 2.7:1

Note that this indicates a consistent aspect ratio for image and link shares, which is not currently the case. I’ve checked in with Facebook to get clarification.

How it Impacts Ad Delivery and Costs

Let’s think this through…

Bigger Sidebar Ads > Fewer Ads > More Competition > Higher Costs

Expect the following:

  • CPM price will go up significantly due to far less inventory and higher competition
  • CPC price will go up at least slightly
  • oCPM price will go up significantly

The price to reach users based on placement has never been equal. I’ve documented in the past how I’ve seen oCPM prices that are 50 times higher on mobile and 20 times higher on desktop News Feed than in the sidebar.

Expect that to change significantly. It may remain cheapest to reach users in the sidebar, but these costs will begin to even out.

However, those sidebar ads will also become more effective. In the past, I’ve found those right hand column ads to be worthwhile, even though the click through rate was awful. This was due to the low cost to reach users.

Now, costs to reach users will increase, but engagement should increase dramatically as well. When all is said and done, you may see very little difference in terms of Cost Per Action.

But we’ll need to wait and see. ALWAYS monitor your results. But this underscores the necessity to focus on Cost Per Desired Action, not secondary stats like CTR or CPM.

The 20% Rule

One pretty big pain for advertisers who create News Feed ads is the dreaded 20% rule. No ad image can include more than 20% text (inexactly measured with a grid).

Of course, this didn’t apply to the sidebar, which was nice. You could create small images with big text for the sidebar and not have any issues.

That now changes.

Going forward, the 20% text rule will apply to all ads, including sidebar ads with the new, bigger images. Actually, that won’t be enforced immediately.

More on that now…

The Rollout Timeline

Facebook notified Preferred Marketing Developers of the following timeline (shared by InsideFacebook.com):

  • June 24: We will begin rolling out the new RHC ad format. Ads that meet the specs for the new RHC ad format will automatically be rendered in the large format. Ads that are not eligible will render in the original smaller format.
  • From June 24 onwards: We will expect a moderate increase in CPMs as ads start rendering in the larger format. CPMs will increase over time as more advertisers adopt the new, larger ad format and stop using the original, smaller format ads.
  • August 1: All new RHC ads that are created on or after August 1 will be subject to the 20% text policy.
  • September 1: The 20% text policy will apply retroactively to existing RHC ads. We will also stop rendering the original, smaller format ads so all of your RHC ads must be updated by this time.

So my advice: Start creating your ads using the proper aspect ratio going forward. Get into the practice of considering the amount of text in sidebar ads, though that won’t be enforced immediately.

Your Turn

Are you seeing these new ads yet as a user? Are you seeing an impact as an advertiser?

Let me know in the comments below!

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About Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital).

  • Michael C

    You sound sick :( Thank you for the heads up though Jon!
    These dimensions are slightly off of the proper dimensions for previous desktop ads, does that mean those are changing too? Or we should make two images one for desktop/mobile one for sidebar.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Michael. I noted that as well and have reached out to Facebook for clarification.

  • http://LoneStarInternetMarketing.com Carlin Stanton

    Jon, Thank you for warning us so promptly of these FB changes. Your an invaluable information source.

    Sincerely,
    Carlin Stanton

  • http://affordable-website-optimization.com D’Anne F

    Any idea how Facebook chooses what 2 new larger ads of the original 7 smaller ones would get a spot? Or will the ads be rotated more often? Do you know the criteria facebook uses?

  • http://www.bedheadmarketing.com/ Steve Hawn

    Jon, Thanks as always for the quick insights. When your stuff arrives I read it almost immediately…Most others go to the dreaded “to be read” box of death. Much appreciated sir!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Love hearing that, Steve!

    • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

      LOL.. glad to see that I’m not the only one obsessed with Jon’s blog :)

  • Matt Donnelly

    John I don’t understand how my ads are down currently? Right now with 1,400 likes I have been hitting only like 4 – 8 newsfeeds? It doesn’t make any sense since I’ve gained like 300 likes in the past week from advertising.

  • Mathilda Wu

    Thank you for keeping us updated, Jon! My question is, will the sidebar ads appear on Ipad placement?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      No mobile.

  • http://www.pierrelechelle.com Pierre Lechelle

    I’m not seing these ads yet. I guess they’re probably rolling out this now. What bothers me is that advertising on Facebook was very cheap for us on the sidebar. I guess we’ll soon get an increase on our CPA.

    I’m expecting to see more and more changes like this over time. We’ll soon have Videos Ads in the sidebar, Ads in pictures… I don’t know what they can imagine.

    Facebook Ads will become as expensive as AdWords; decreasing the possibilities for us to advertise on these networks…

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I don’t think you can assume an increase in CPA. CPM and CPC definitely go up. But they should also be far more effective than in the past.

      • http://www.pierrelechelle.com Pierre Lechelle

        I guess that CPA is based on CPM / CPC. So if CPM / CPC go up; CPA go up. After it’s only a guess. Great article anyway ;)

        • https://www.elance.com/s/scott-benson/ Scott Benson

          I don’t know that I’d agree that CPA will go up just because CPM goes
          up. Just peeking at the reports for my last few ads, the CPM for the
          sidebar was only 3.5% of what I paid for news feed on mobile, but mobile
          CTR was about 60x higher. This made CPC twice as high for the sidebar.
          Even though I’m paying a fraction per impression on the sidebar, most of
          these impressions are a lie. Nobody actually looked right!

          Don’t
          forget that there’s actual people on the other side of your metrics.
          It’s not that the mobile ad was just begging for clicks compared to the
          sidebar — it’s the same ad, haha. It’s just that “Impressions” is the
          only way to operationalize and monetize “people seeing my ad,” and it
          just happens to be more accurate in the news feed because we actually
          put the ad right where the user is looking. Now, with bigger ads, more
          people will actually be looking!

          So that nobody thinks I’m just here
          trolling Mr Lechelle, (the new sidebar could fail miserably after all), I can offer
          this little nugget from my life as a Psych major: use as much bright
          green as you can in your new, larger sidebar ads. I’m talking #00FF00.
          Your peripheral color vision is terrible, but you’ll get a much stronger
          signal from green cones in the eye than any other color. That might
          help make impressions that much more meaningful and keep your CPA down.

    • Boo Blades

      You my friend understand performance marketing. These new ad changes will slowly push CPA lead gen marketers or sellers of mid-priced products and services out to the fringes just as Adwords did. Most people complain about RHS ads because they dont know how to optimize their ads or nail their targeting. Facebook is smart about recognizing this and attempting to close the marketing knowledge gap with technology, but those who knew how to navigate the platform and squeeze out high quality cheap clicks may be effected. Damn, I guess its back to PPV??

      • http://www.pierrelechelle.com Pierre Lechelle

        I think we’ll keep the same metrics. We’ll need to optimize the other side of the funnel to generate more revenue from users (CAC > LTV). Nonetheless, advertisers will need to seriously understand what’s behind CPC, CPM, oCPM & CPA in order to fully optimize their campaigns.

        One small hint: with a company I’m working with right now; we decided to target countries where advertisers in our niche are not going (Latin & South America; Eastern Europe…) and we got a very (very) low CPA.

        Advertisers of the future:
        – Be creative on Targeting
        – Nail your bidding
        – Forget about “best practices”: try everything
        – Experiment a lot: even if you loose money for a while…

  • Kinga Lusińska

    Hi Jon, thanks for info. No changes seen yet (CET zone). Do you know how long it will take to roll out to all the users?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Your guess is always as good as mine, Kinga!

  • http://www.adspringr.com/ Adspringr

    Haven’t started seeing the changes here yet and curious to see how ads in the sidebar will now perform compared to earlier.

    Jon, could we be seeing a case study from you on how ads performed before and following the change?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      You could be!

  • Andy Rao

    Thanks, Jon. Can I ask though…. They’re still not going to appear on mobile, are they? Isn’t that the fundamental problem with the right hand side ads? We are seeing such poor returns compared to the newsfeed ads.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      No mobile. Not really the fundamental problem with sidebar, Andy. If you target only Desktop News Feed, it’s the same thing. And actually, you’ll tend to get more impressions on the sidebar than anywhere else. The problem was with the engagement rate on those ads. This will improve that.

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    It will be interesting to see how Facebook enforces that 20% rule on sidebar ads. At the moment, I still see a lots of ads on my news feed that break this rule. Very frustrating for people like us who always try to comply with the rules…

  • Matt Donnelly

    JON YOUR FAILING TO ANSWER MY QUESTION? PLEASE

    I have currently spent $75 in order to grow my fanbase to 1,700 “LIKES” what’s the point of continuing to spend money on advertisements when my posts are reaching a penny for every dollar?

    I should not have to pay for my posts to reach the fan base that I paid to build.

    Your answer to where else are you going to go? Easy pinterest, twitter, linkedin. The fanbases are WAY lower FB agreed but they aren’t completely shitting on the people who pay tons of their hard earned money invested.

    • Nelson

      Hi Matt, remeber you’re competing against peoples friends and family. Facebook chooses to show posts based on engagement. This may sound harsh, but if your posts get low reach the blame falls in the content you are posting. Think of your fans as people who made a very small commitment to your brand, now you have an opportunity to engage them further with content they will engage with. You can then pay to reach this audience when you have something important to say or sell as they will be more likely to buy from you as you have been building a connection, and paying will make sure everyone sees that important message. I realize what I just wrote doesnt fix any of your problems, but hopefully it makes you see that getting people to like you’re page is only a very small part of everything. I hope that helps.

  • http://socialmediamethods.blogspot.com.au/ Rosemary Smith

    No I am see these larger side bar ads yet either. Will be interested to see if they are worth the extra cost.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    I’m digging these wider ads. Makes Facebook look more professional to me.

  • L

    Hi Jon – do you know when these sidebar ads will be in the UK?

  • https://www.facebook.com/tvnguyen24 nguyenthevuk46i1

    Hi Jon! Maybe with bigger sidebar ads Facebook would decrease impression on desktop New Feed and increase it on mobile?

  • Nelson

    How do we know what ad format facebook will show in the sidebar? When I’m creating the ad it previews the old size, but when I was browsing facebook I saw my ad in the new format. Makes selecting an image and analysing confusing as I’m not sure if they are using the same ad for both size formats or if they choose what type of sidebar ad to show based on the size of the image I upload.

  • http://www.facebook.com/realestateagentdirectory Eric Brown

    Interesting! I’ve directly asked Facebook when the right hand column ads, with the smaller image sizes, would stop delivery and the answer I was given is that the team has been intentionally vague with WHEN this was going to take place. You however, have September 1st as the date – may I ask where you came across this information? Thanks!

  • Spruce

    Thanks

  • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

    This is very useful information, Jon. Thanks :)

  • Yassine

    Hi Jon! Does the 20% rule apply as well to logos? (when logos are text)

    Thank you,
    Yassine

  • sodusty

    Thank you for your great blog Jon, learning a ton!

    Question: Does anyone know if the ad preview is inaccurate (very) regarding the image size? I am creating ad for right column only and thus in 254×133 – but preview during creation AND in ad manager workspace seems to have the ratio of the (for ads in general) recommended 1200x444px (very different ratio), thus my image is missing good part of its height, all mutilated. However, actual ads displayed in right column show 254×133. Is just the preview feature messed up? And is there an easy way for me to see the actual live ad? create a “me” custom audience? Thank you for your help!

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