Mobile-First Creative: How to Match Consumer Behavior on Facebook

by | Sep 9, 2019 | Education

Mobile-First Creative for Facebook Feature Image

For a campaign to be successful, you need not only a skilled campaign manager but, more importantly, you need captivating creative. You can have a seasoned veteran optimizing away but if they aren’t serving thumb-stopping creative, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

As Facebook continues to roll out features and updates that decrease targeting capabilities, they also continue to make changes to the format of creative run on their platform. 

On August 19, Facebook made some big updates to the design of their News Feed to make it more mobile-focused. This includes:

+  Changes to how much primary text is shown

Originally showing 7 lines of primary text, now only 3 lines of primary text will show. After those 3 lines, users will need to click to view additional text.

+  Changes to the maximum height for photos and videos

Now, the tallest supported aspect ratios for images without links and for videos is vertical —  4:5. Prior to August 19, the aspect ratio was 2:3.

Mobile-First Creative Facebook Update Comparison

These changes are designed to simplify ad formats and improve the consistency of the mobile experience. The end goal is to make it easier to use the same creative assets on Facebook and Instagram. 

With Facebook moving forwards with more mobile-friendly creative, it requires us to think about building and optimizing our ads to match how users consume content on their platforms — mobile first.

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Why mobile-first creative?

Consumption of content on mobile feed is inherently different than other audience touch points such as TV, Connected TV (CTV), and other digital desktop platforms. 

When it comes to users consuming mobile content, Facebook has found three aspects that make it unique:

1. It’s frequent — in that users are on Facebook’s family apps a lot. 

2. The sound is usually off when browsing.

3. The browsing behavior is fast when viewing content.

Consuming content in this way has shown us that mobile News Feed and Stories (i.e., Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories) ads are consumed at a high volume but for less time. This behavior is an important element to be aware of when building creative. 

Another element to consider is the overwhelmingly prevalence of video content. By 2020, an astounding 78% of all mobile data traffic will be video (#1)

This prevalence, along with how users consume content, has significant implications on what type of creative you should build and how you should build it.

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Mobile-first creative: what and how?

While static creative has its value, research has found video creative to be far more valuable for campaign performance. 

More specifically, Facebook found that campaigns (#2) using static plus video assets led to better performance in lower funnel objectives (engagement and conversion), resulting in more conversions than video or static images alone. They also found that video holds users attention 5x more than static images. 

Due to how users consume content in a mobile feed, attention is now an action, not a passive activity. Because of this, you must reward it. 

While attention should always be awarded, you need to give users a reason to pay attention. As it relates to video on mobile, we should reward this attention early

To back that up, Facebook found (#3) that 47% of value was demonstrated in the first three seconds, while 74% of the value in a video was in the first ten seconds. 

By matching consumers behavior on mobile, we can positively impact campaign performance in how we build / optimize the creative.

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How to optimize mobile-first video creative. 

When approaching the build of mobile-first video creative, there’s several elements that you want to keep top of mind.

Capture Attention

As I’ve described above, you should deliver the message quickly — starting with the most captivating moments and elements. Aside from that, you should ask yourself “What is the most important message to deliver in this video?”

If your objective is increasing brand awareness, you need to ensure your message delivers that clearly, quickly and impactfully.

If your objective is driving conversions, you need to focus on the product or service you provide. 

Length and Message

A mobile-first approach requires a different approach. You need to find a balance between the message and time. 

While 30 second videos allow advertisers to develop a more in-depth story, you should consider making your video as short as it can be and as long as it needs to be. 

In the end, though, shorter is better. Facebook found (#4) that ads under 15 seconds in length work best in the News Feed and ads under 10 seconds perform best in Stories. That said, focus on delivering the main message in the first 3-5 seconds.


Design the video to be watched with the sound off. This is about telling your story visually, so leveraging text, graphic overlays and captions are good ways to help deliver your message. Incorporating sound in the creative should delight the user, but it should be designed so that the message can be delivered with or without sound.



Pay attention to building the creative for where your audience is viewing it. You want to maximize your real estate as much as possible. With people using their phones vertically 98% of the time (#5), you’ll want to aim for a vertical build. In other words, a 4:5 aspect ratio.


Play More

If it’s in your budget, you should build creative in a number of different formats and styles. Top performing mobile ads have elements of surprise. Having multiple assets allow for more flexibility in the learning and campaign optimization process.

While implementing these elements may entail a new approach to video creative production, there’s data to back it. When built for mobile, research found people engaged with an ad 3x more when a brand name and message were presented in the first 10 seconds (#6). 

When compared to traditional video ads, mobile-first video saw aided recall was 2.4x lower for traditionally built video ads . As it relates to return on ad spend (ROAS), mobile-first video saw a 3.8x increase in ROAS and a 49% higher conversion rate (#7).

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How to optimize mobile-first static creative. 

Although video is the most effective format to serve, mobile-first static creative still has an important role. 

Whether its limitations in budget or just a preference for static, there are a number of quick and easy tricks you can do to improve static creative and its subsequent performance. These tricks all center around one unifying element: motion. 

While Facebook recommends focusing on a single message and a strong, clear call-to-action, adding lightweight motion to static images can have a significant impact on a campaigns performance, especially for lower funnel campaigns. 

As it relates to particular elements or text within the static image, there are a number of ways you can add motion. These strategies, as defined by Facebook, are part of their “Create to Convert” concept.


The four ways to add motion include:


1.  Basic in Motion – adding motion to 1-2 elements in the still.

2.  Brand in Motion – adding motion to the brand and/or logo.

3.  Benefit in Motion – adding motion to a benefit or offer that you want to draw attention to.

4.  Demo in Motion – adding motion to demonstrate the product, feature, or website.


Adding motion may seem like a large, expensive task but there’s actually a number of inexpensive and easy-to-use resources that help implement motion within static creative (I’ll touch on those resources in just a second).


Motion – Slideshow Ads

Another great way to add motion to static creative is through the production of slideshow ads. Slideshow ads allow you to combine multiple images (3-10 to be exact), text, and sound to your creative. By adding motion to your creative, it allows you to stand out amongst content while simultaneously allowing you to tell your story.

There are many benefits to implementing slideshow ads in a campaign. Due to its low production cost, slideshow ads allow you to create immersive experiences quickly while also telling compelling stories. In addition, slideshow ads use 5x less data than videos, enabling you to market towards people with slower connections or older devices. Slideshow ads also play automatically like videos and will continue to loop once it’s done.


In one case study, adding motion to creative was found to decrease CPAs up to 70%, increase ROAs by 8x and cut the cost per lead (CPL) in half. Other case studies have also seen a large increase in sales, among other performance improvements.

Of course, motion can be added to both static and video creative! It has a much more pronounced impact on static creative, though, which is why I focus on it this way.

Overall, when optimizing creative (both video and static) for a mobile-first world, motion is a solid solution. It solves for many of the new issues mobile raises and leverages its strengths.

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How to add motion to your creative.

To summarize, there’s four main methods/tools for adding motion to your existing creative. These include:

1.  Animating Text – add animated text to existing footage or static imagery

2.  Adding Simple Animation – animate elements like a logo, offer, or the transitions between static images

3.  Create a Slideshow – show a variety of products, explain steps, or highlight benefits

4.  Video Creation Kit – add motion to static images with easy-to-use templates in Ads Manager

While the task of creative production lies mainly with the creative agency/department, digital campaign managers can still play a role in enhancing the creative. 

On the contrary, both creative producers and digital campaign managers can not only add motion to existing creative fairly quickly, but they can do it for free too. Whether it’s using several images to tell a story, adding music to creative, or creating videos that loop, there’s an abundance of resources available to accomplish these tasks. 

Resources recommended by Facebook include:

1.  Mobile and Desktop Applications

+  Ripl – layer animated templates on top of images.

+  Unfold – create stories with multiple images.

+  Adobe Spark Post – transform images with design and animation templates.

+  Adobe Photoshop Mix – cut and combine multiple images.

+  Plotaverse – add motion to images.

+  Quik – animate your images to music.

+  Videoshop – combine images and videos, experiment with stop-motion, resize, and edit videos.

+  Boomerang – create short looping videos.

+  Mojo – create stories from templates.

2.  Leverage a Facebook Marketing Partner (FMP)

+  Use a FMP to add motion to your static

Don’t have a FMP? Find one that works with your industry and budget here.

3. Video Creation Kit in Ads Manager

+  Here, you can browse templates built for various objectives and edit both static and video creative to incorporate motion.

As each day passes, we are moving to a more and more mobile-first world. As it relates to the digital advertising world, new features and updates from Facebook demand not only innovation by campaign managers, but creative agencies and producers as well.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, everybody working in the digital advertising should be up-to-date with what works, what doesn’t and what’s to come. And as Facebook continues to demonstrate — that could be anything.

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  1. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020” by Cisco, Feb 3, 2016.

  2. Creative Considerations for Driving Action, Facebook, June 2018.

  3. Facebook research and Nielsen to analyze it’s database of brand effects studies, n+ 173 studies included worldwide, mid-December 2014 to mid-February 2015.

  4. “Video Viewability and Sales Lift Research” by Facebook and Oracle, Sept 2017.

  5. “The Rise of Vertical Video” by Ogilvy, July 2017.

  6. Facebook IQ Source: Video ad rating conducted internally by Facebook in Q4 2015: 2,183 Video Ad ratings corresponding to 965 video ads in market in the US and EMEA between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015. Video ad metadata obtained from Facebook internal data. Brand performance data based on Nielsen Brand Effect norms database.

  7. Facebook IQ Source: Metrixlab data – Facebook IQ commissioned study of 759 video ads distributed across 25 countries: Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, US, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, India, Greater China (Hong Kong), Korea, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, UK ,Italy, Poland, France, Germany, Romania, Turkey, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and The Netherlands. 2017.

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