12 Steps to Making a Facebook Canvas Ad

What is Facebook Canvas?

Let’s dive right in. Facebook Canvas is an interactive ad that provides the user with an immersive mobile experience. It’s easy enough to create, optimized for mobile, loads quickly (10X faster than standard mobile web), and sucks you in as it takes up the whole screen of your device. Canvas starts as just a regular ad, but when a user gives it a tap, that’s when the interactive magic happens. The audience becomes an active part of the brand story as they swipe and scroll, progressing at their own pace. Canvas ads also play into the big picture of intent marketing:

1.)  Generate intent with ads
2.)  Nurture intent with Facebook Canvas
3.)  Harvest intent on website/app

Why Do I Care?

Try this stat on for size: "A remarkable 53% of users that open a Canvas ad view at least half of it, and the average view time per ad is a shocking 31 seconds." Considering how hard it is to win over the whittling attention span of today’s increasingly multitasking and brand-agnostic consumers, we think that’s pretty damn impressive. GlobalWebIndex found that people shop more on mobile devices than PCs/laptops for the first time ever, so with most of Facebook’s users hitting up the platform on their smartphones, the mobile optimization piece really pays off. On top of that, there are optimized templates to fit any industry, landing pages have a crystal-clear CTA, and the audience gets up to speed on the brand’s story without ever leaving the trusted comfort of Facebook. 

When Do I Use It?

Our money is on using Facebook Canvas ads when mobile users are in the intent phase. Advertising research from Psychology Today found “that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content.” Thanks to the creative freedom in Canvas, brands have every opportunity to inspire some feels. There’s also good reason to deploy Canvas ads for brand discovery. It’s a more than capable format for rich storytelling, making it a solid vessel for sharing who you are as a brand.

How Do I Make a Facebook Canvas Ad?

We thought you’d never ask. Take a look at our step-by-step guide below and you’ll be dazzling your audience with Canvas in time for supper. Or whatever meal you’re looking forward to. It doesn’t take long. That’s our point. (This assumes you have a Facebook Business and Advertising account.)

Step 1: Log In

Start by going to https://business.facebook.com and logging in. 

Step 2: Create the Ad

Once you’re redirected to the Business Manager homepage, click the menu button icon in the upper left corner (three horizontal white bars) and select “Ads Manager” from the drop-down menu. On the Ad Manager page, click the green “Create Ad” button. 

Pro Tip: There are three main parts to a Facebook Ad: Campaign, Ad Set, and Ad. Each one is responsible for different attributes. The Campaign is the simplest; it sets the objective of the ad (clicks, impressions, etc.). The Ad Set controls the delivery of the ad (who, where, when, how much to spend) and is arguably just as important as the ad media itself. Finally, the ad is the actual ad unit; it defines the copy, media, and other visual attributes that consumers will see.

Step 3: Define the Campaign’s Objective

Facebook provides lots of options that are divided into three subcategories: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. The first two categories are solutions offered out of the box; whereas, conversions require more advanced integration via Facebook Pixels. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to go with “Traffic” (traffic to a website, app, or messenger). Simply click traffic, provide a Campaign name, and click the “Continue” button.

In order to get a basic ad up and running, we need to define the Ad Set: Traffic, Audience, Placement, and Budget & Schedule. We already took care of traffic, so…

Step 4: Defining Audience

You can create a new one or use a saved one, which is handy if you’re revisiting the same crowd. To create a new audience, choose a geographical location for your ads to be delivered, then select the age and gender of the audience. You should also specify a language if you want your audience to be able to read the ad. Usually helps. If you were to just use these criteria, you would still get link clicks, but the audience members who are clicking might not be relevant at all (and may evEN BE ROBOTS OMG), and you’ll waste ad dollars. “Detailed Targeting” allows us to narrow down the enormous audience pool, to a niche audience that is interested in your page. You can target people based on pages they like, keywords, interests, and a bunch of other ways. Facebook provides an estimation of how many people you will reach, so you’re not completely in the dark.

Step 5: Defining Placement

You can choose which platforms to advertise on by selecting the “Edit Placements” option. Since Canvas ads are for Facebook Feed mobile only, select “Mobile Only” from the drop menu under “Device Types” and deselect everything except for “Feeds” under the “Facebook” platform. Further aggregation can also be specified such as the types of mobile devices and operating systems. 

Step 6: Define Budget & Schedule

The budget and schedule are also taken care of in this same spot. You can set Daily or Lifetime Budget for the Ad Set, and even schedule your ads to only run at certain times of day when your audience is most likely to be online. Hit ‘em where they sleep, as they say. Or rather, when they’re not asleep. That would be better. 

The Ad Set setup is now complete. Click the blue “Continue” button to set up the ad.

Step 7: Link Facebook Page

Next up is linking your Facebook. If you only have a single Facebook page linked to your account, it will automatically fill it in. Otherwise you can specify a Facebook for this ad to represent.

Step 8: Choose Ad Format

There are several options, most of which you’ve probably seen yourself. We’ll use the “Single Image” format here, but do whatever tickles your fancy when you’re doing the real thing. Dealer’s choice. Note: Any of the formats have the option for Canvas, but the newest ad format “Collections” is a Canvas ad by definition. To make an ad a Canvas ad, select the format and then select the “Add a fullscreen Canvas” directly below.

Step 9: Design Your Canvas

Now it’s time to stretch those creativity muscles! Or hire someone with creativity muscles at a fair rate that suits both parties! That works too. Either way, Facebook already has some simple templates prebuilt for you. You can pick a template, or to see more click the “Use the advanced Canvas builder” link to insert your own HTML5/CSS.

Let’s explore the templates options first. We previously selected clickthroughs as our objective, so we’ll go with the “Showcase Your Business” option since we’re trying to drive an educated audience to your website. Click “Use Template” button and then “Showcase Your Business” to continue.

Step 10: Customize Template

A popup will appear that allows you to customize the template. The left-hand side controls the media and copy, which you can replace line by line with your own content. The right panel will render a preview for you in real time, or you can preview your ad by clicking the “Preview on Mobile” button and then logging onto Facebook with the same account via a mobile device. Once you have everything to your liking, click the “Done” button.

Step 11: Compose Main Ad

Upload an image that you want displayed on the main ad in the “Images” box. Then enter a headline and text in the “Links” box.

Step 12: Review & Publish Canvas Ad

Scroll all the way to the bottom and double check your ad configuration is correct by clicking the “Review” button. If everything looks good, click the green “Confirm” button to publish your ad. Boom. You just made your very own Facebook Canvas Ad. Feels good, right? NAILED IT.

Some Cool Facebook Canvas Ads

That’s all there is to it. Now that you’re ready to go out there and capture attention with Facebook Canvas, here are a couple examples of Canvas ads that caught our eye here at Uptown Treehouse. If you’re looking for inspiration, these are a good place to start.



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