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Facebook just opened the floodgates to interactive AR, poll and game-based ads — but media buyers say it doesn’t hold a candle to Snapchat (FB, SNAP)

Facebook just opened the floodgates to interactive AR, poll and game-based ads — but media buyers say it doesn’t hold a candle to Snapchat (FB, SNAP)

Facebook just rolled out interactive ads that will let people do everything from trying on make-up to playing games on the News Feed.

The move is a bid to cater to people ditching words in favor of GIFs, emojis, filters, and stickers, and marketers that want to reach them. Sixty percent of businesses on Instagram already use interactive elements like a mention, hashtag or poll sticker in Stories every month, Facebook said.

Read More: Snap has been racing ahead to build for a post-mobile world. And it's a world that it very well could dominate.

The three formats, which have been tested by brands including Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Uber, and Warner Bros., are:

  • Poll Ads: Video ads that give users an option and are meant to help brands drive awareness and conversions, per Facebook. A clothing company, for example, could ask its customers if they want to see a pink or a yellow-colored shirt.
  • Augmented Reality Ads: These let people virtually try on products like a lipstick, already popularized by Snapchat. Beta tests for Facebook AR ads will become available to all advertisers this fall on Facebook's mobile feed.
  • Playable Ads: An in-feed format that lets people play games. Uber India used it to drive awareness for its 2019 Cricket World Cup promotion, leading to a 3 times higher-ad recall lift rate and a 10% higher-click through rate compared to other brand awareness campaigns, per Facebook.

Facebook is trying to drive more people to the News Feed

Facebook has recently been pushing new ad formats and porting formats already popular on other apps within the family like Instagram to the main app in a bid to boost its stalling user growth — and sustain ad revenue.

Last fall, the company rolled out ads on Facebook and Messenger Stories while Instagram rolled out poll sticker ads. The new formats are meant to get people to participate with them, Facebook wrote in the blog post announcing the new formats.

"Ultimately, they want to make sure that they remain sticky," said Kieley Taylor, managing partner and global head of social at GroupM.

These new formats contrast with earlier ones that sent people out of its own ecosystem to brands and retailers' own websites, which ran counter to Facebook's interests, she said.

Poll ads in particular could be a draw for adertisers by providing faster feedback and speeding up innovation, said Jeanne Bright, vp of global platform investment at media agency Essence.

But Snapchat has a better experience when it comes to AR

But buyers saw Facebook's AR ads as its latest attempt to copy Snapchat — which has had versions of AR ads since 2017, and said Snapchat's were better in terms of design and user experience.

"With the AR format particularly, they're going after what Snap's excelling at," said Essence's Bright. "Something we've talked to Facebook about a lot is increasing their innovation pipeline. A lot of their new ad products seem to be borrowed, and we'd love to see something a little bit more different."

Further, the AR ad format does not fit in on Facebook's News Feed and could be a jarring experience for consumers just scrolling through, said Bright.

"We've tested out AR ads on Facebook and it is not as seamless," she said. "It's just not as native to the user experience on Facebook as it is on Snapchat."