Slideshow: An Easy, Bandwidth-Friendly Alternative to Facebook Video Ads

Facebook Thursday introduced slideshow, a new video ad product aimed at far greater accessibility by both brands and users in emerging markets.

Facebook Thursday introduced slideshow, a new video ad product aimed at far greater accessibility by both brands and users in emerging markets.

During a press briefing Thursday, the social network stressed its efforts to serve its users and advertisers in emerging markets and with poor performing Internet connections, such as 2G.

Emerging markets product lead Kelly MacLean said during the press briefing that emerging markets make up 85 percent of the world’s population, with 90 percent of those people under the age of 30, adding that marketers turn connectivity challenges into real-time marketing opportunities and pointing out that users in emerging markets “really love connecting with businesses” and view ads favorably, including the data below from eMarketer to enforce her point.


Facebook executives discussed the explosion of video content—both ads and videos posted by pages and users—and the increasing percentage of users accessing the social network via mobile, pointing out the difficulties for both brands and users in emerging markets when it comes to both creating/producing and viewing video via slower connections.

Chief product officer Chris Cox spoke of “breaking down barriers for the next group of people to use Facebook,” adding that “the people we’re building this for look less and less like us,” and stressing the “completely different level of discipline and commitment” required to serve those users.

“The next billion” was a common theme throughout the press briefing, and Cox said one-third of those next billion would come from India, mostly via 2G connections.

Illustrating the importance of connection speed, Cox said:

You’d much rather have a 10-year-old phone on a good connection than a brand-new phone on a bad connection.

Engineering director Tom Alison spoke about Facebook’s efforts to serve emerging markets, discussing the creation of the emerging markets engineering team within the past year, with its focus on “delivering a great product experience on Facebook to people in emerging markets, particularly 2G.:

Alison mentioned network connection class, which enables Facebook to understand the quality of networks being used to access the social network, as well as how the social network tweaks News Feed for those slower connections, with steps such as loading content incrementally, loading stories “below the fold” ahead of time, prioritizing the story that is currently being viewed, loading lower-quality images quickly and eventually replacing them with high-resolution images and, in cases where connection is lost, fetching stories that were previously loaded but not viewed by users.

Alison also mentioned Facebook’s 2G Tuesdays initiative, whereby employees at the social network are given the option to experience Facebook via a connection that simulates 2G speed for one hour every Tuesday.

slideshow—which was launched Thursday globally, not just in emerging markets, via Facebook’s ads create tool–enables advertisers on the social network to, as the feature’s name suggests, stitch images into a slideshow, easily creating ads that draw attention the way video ads do, but lessening the stress on them, as well as on the mobile connections of users with slower access.

The social network added in a Facebook for Business post that slideshow will be rolled out to Power Editor and Ads Manager “over the coming weeks,” adding that slideshow ads are made up of three to seven still images from any source, including stock imagery from Facebook’s library.

Product manager, emerging markets Nikila Srinivasan said during the press briefing that slideshow ads can run from five to 15 seconds, and the social network pointed out that the file size for a 15-second slideshow can be up to five times smaller than that of a 15-second video.

She called slideshow a “lightweight, responsive ad format that reaches users across all devices and connectivity, as well as a creative tool for brands looking to create videos,” and she said Facebook has been testing the product with “several close partners.”

Coca-Cola was one of the partners mentioned by Srinivasan, with the social network saying in the Facebook for Business post that the beverage company ran a slideshow ad in Kenya and Nigeria to raise awareness for the new season of its Coke Studio Africa television show.

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Facebook said the ads reached 2 million users, doubling Coca-Cola’s goal of 1 million, and raised ad awareness by 10 points in Kenya, and Coca-Cola central, east and west Africa marketing director Ahmed Rady added:

We are pleased with how the Facebook slideshow campaign performed across our key markets in Africa, particularly in Nigeria and Kenya. The campaign over-delivered on reach by 1 million and had a 10-point increase in ad awareness in Kenya. We recognize that our consumers may have constraints when accessing video content, hence the slideshow option by Facebook is spot-on in enabling us to still deliver impactful and quality content. As such, we are excited to use the slideshow feature to deliver high-quality content from Coke Studio Africa to our consumers on the continent.

Srinivasan also mentioned slideshow campaigns by Brazil-based cosmetics manufacturer O Boticário, which showed users how to apply smoky eye (pictured below), and by Netflix in the U.S. to introduce new characters in its original series.

slideshowOBoticário1 slideshowOBoticário2 slideshowOBoticário3 slideshowOBoticário4

Srinivasan said the same ad review and policy guidelines that apply to other Facebook ad units apply to those created via slideshow, adding that the social network was looking to extend slideshow to Instagram, but not to WhatsApp.

Readers: What are your early thoughts on slideshow? David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.