The number of people using Facebook Stories on a daily basis has doubled since May, and their experiences are about to change drastically. The social network announced this morning that Facebook Stories ads are now available to all advertisers globally.
Facebook said in May that Stories had 150 million daily users, and it began a test with select advertisers in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.
That user total now tops 300 million, and the monetization machine is humming—all brands worldwide can now add Facebook Stories ads to campaigns that already include news feed ads and Instagram Stories ads.
Joshua Lowcock, global brand safety officer at IPG Mediabrands’ UM marketing and media agency network, said he would recommend Facebook Stories ads to clients, believing the full-screen, vertical content they contain is the best way to connect and engage via mobile devices. But, he cautioned that Facebook and other platforms must “put the appropriate controls in place so that the Stories format doesn’t get tarnished due to inappropriate content or behavior by some users.”
Facebook Stories ads offer the same targeting, measurement and optimization capabilities as other ad products on the Facebook platform as well as the same objectives available via Instagram Stories ads: reach, brand awareness, video views, app installs, conversion, traffic and lead generation.
James Douglas, senior vice president, executive director and head of media at global agency Reprise Digital, said that while the consistency among Facebook’s various platforms is great for broad-based advertisers, he feared that some of the elements that make Stories compelling—the immediacy and authentic nature he finds important from an advertising standpoint—may be compromised.
Instagram opened up Stories ads to all businesses in March 2017, and it announced on Aug. 2, the feature’s second birthday, that Instagram Stories had more than 400 million daily users, and about one-third of the most-viewed Stories came from the 25 million-plus businesses using the feature.
Corporate sibling WhatsApp revealed in August that it would begin showing ads within its WhatsApp Status, its equivalent of Stories, next year, adding that 450 million people were using the feature on a daily basis, even more than Instagram.
Facebook cited a survey by Ipsos in which 62 percent of respondents became interested in brands or products after discovering them via Stories, more than half are making more purchases online due to Stories, 38 percent discussed products or services they found in Stories with other people and 34 percent went to stores to look for those products or services.
Alison Hoffman, chief marketing officer of Starz, one of the brands involved in the Facebook Stories ad test, said the cable network was seeing video completion rates roughly double those of Facebook’s news feed.
However, Douglas reported the opposite, saying that while Stories are a great vehicle for driving traffic from social to brands’ sites, they don’t work well for video views due to the impatience of users.
Hoffman said Starz’s use of Facebook Stories has run the gamut from highly produced, trailer-type videos to casual creative displaying the personality of its shows’ talent and production, adding that the networks’ goals include “fueling the fandom” for shows and influencing existing fans to check out new series.
World Surf League chief community officer Tim Greenberg encouraged the league’s roughly 2,500 athletes to share content via Stories, saying a surfer waxing his or her board on a beach in Tahiti may be mundane for him or her but exciting to someone in Kansas.
The vertical format of Facebook Stories, which is crucial in leveraging its full-screen experience, does present some challenges for brands.
Brittany Johnson and Court Williams of Facebook Creative Shop pointed out that Facebook made it easier for brands to reuse creative by adding a background to fill the space when the horizontal format is used, for example, or including the ad text beneath the video or photo.