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Here's What Facebook Wants Mobile Ads to Look Like

Facebook showed off a new ad mockup to marketers at Cannes Lions on Tuesday.

Asa Mathat

Facebook isn’t rolling out any new ad products at Cannes Lions on Tuesday, the ad industry’s week-long annual festival in the south of France.

But it does have an idea for a new ad product — one that will host advertiser content the way the social network now hosts publisher content — and it’s showing advertisers a mockup featuring the kinds of ads it soon wants to sell.

Facebook product boss Chris Cox, who is speaking at Cannes for the first time, is presenting this mockup in a video alongside his presentation Tuesday afternoon. The video, which you can see below, depicts what Facebook ads could look like on a smartphone down the road. It’s a glimpse into Facebook’s vision for mobile advertising.

Imagine a mashup of all Facebook’s current ad products rolled into one: A post that opens into full screen images, videos and even product shots that rotate 360 degrees as you move your finger across the screen. The ads would essentially give marketers a mini-version of their own website on Facebook’s app, bringing the user “away” from the News Feed without ever taking them out of the app.

It’s a strategy Facebook has also employed with traditional content, like news stories. The company rolled out Instant Articles earlier this year, hosting content from publishers like the New York Times and BuzzFeed on Facebook rather than driving traffic back to those publishers’ websites. Facebook’s vision for mobile advertising looks like it does something similar, but with a retailer’s content instead.

The key here is that this is all just a mockup; it’s not a Facebook ad. At least not yet. The company isn’t even testing these ad units, but instead will spend the week at Cannes meeting with hundreds of marketers and asking them for feedback. The example in the video above is just a launching pad for where Facebook may be headed.

In other words, Facebook is catering to the ad industry, which is a smart move considering 94 percent of its revenue comes from advertising, nearly three quarters of that from mobile devices. Facebook’s future is mobile — it already has more than half a billion people whose only interaction with Facebook each month comes from a mobile device — and it’s giving marketers a hand in designing the very ad units the company will be selling them in a few months. Not a bad move.

Of course, Facebook will also be tasked with walking the line between advertiser wants and user happiness. Users are rarely fond of advertising — although with Facebook the issue tends to be targeting more than anything — and it’ll be up to Facebook to ensure whatever ads they create strike the right balance.

There’s no timetable for when Facebook might roll out a new ad like this one. But it can’t be too far off if the company’s already showing a design to marketers.

This article originally appeared on

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